Alternative medicineBy Mayo Clinic Staff
Many people with frequent heartburn use over-the-counter or alternative therapies for symptom relief. Remember that even natural remedies can have risks and side effects, including potentially serious interactions with prescription medications. Always do careful research and talk with your doctor before trying an alternative therapy.
There are no alternative therapies that have been found specifically to relieve bile reflux or protect against and relieve esophageal inflammation. Some herbal remedies may be helpful, but there is no evidence that they work and some may be harmful. If you decide to start any of these therapies, discuss them with your doctor. They include:
March 04, 2015
- Chamomile, which has anti-inflammatory properties. Chamomile teas are readily available and have a low risk of side effects.
- Licorice, which is commonly used to soothe inflammation associated with GERD, gastritis, ulcers and other digestive problems. However, licorice contains a chemical called glycyrrhizin (glis-uh-RIE-zin) that's associated with serious health risks, such as high blood pressure and tissue swelling, if used long term. Talk with your doctor before trying this therapy. Prescription preparations are available that don't contain glycyrrhizin.
- Slippery elm, a product of a tree bark and root, may help soothe the digestive tract. Slippery elm can be mixed with water and taken after meals and before bed. Slippery elm may decrease the absorption of prescription medications.
- Marshmallow (Althaea officinalis) is an herb — not the puffy white candy — that has been used for GERD symptom relief. Like slippery elm, marshmallow may cause problems with the absorption of medications.
- Townsend CM, et al. Sabiston Textbook of Surgery: The Biological Basis of Modern Surgical Practice. 19th ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: Saunders Elsevier; 2012. https://www.clinicalkey.com. Accessed Dec. 2, 2014.
- Feldman M, et al. Sleisenger & Fordtran's Gastrointestinal and Liver Disease: Pathophysiology, Diagnosis, Management. 9th ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: Saunders Elsevier; 2010. http://www.clinicalkey.com. Accessed Dec. 2, 2014.
- Gastroesophageal reflux (GER) and gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse. http://digestive.niddk.nih.gov/ddiseases/pubs/gerd/. Accessed Dec. 2, 2014.
- Rakel RE. Integrative Medicine. 3rd ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: Saunders Elsevier; 2012. http://www.clinicalkey.com. Accessed Dec. 2, 2014.
- Fass R. Approach to refractory gastroesophageal reflux disease in adults. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed Dec. 4, 2014.
- Marx JA, et al. Rosen's Emergency Medicine: Concepts and Clinical Practice. 8th ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: Saunders Elsevier; 2014. https://www.clinicalkey.com. Accessed Dec. 2, 2014.
- Matsuzaki J, et al. Bile acids increase levels of microRNAs 221 and 222, leading to degradation of CDX2 during esophageal carcinogenesis. Gastroenterology. 2013;145:1300.
- Quante M, et al. Barrett esophagus: What a mouse model can teach us about human disease. Cell Cycle. 2012;11:4328.
- Picco MF (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. Dec. 15, 2014.