Acid reflux, also known as gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), is a common digestive issue.
It’s associated with various side effects, including heartburn, nausea, belching, and stomach pain.
In addition to medications like antacids and proton pump inhibitors, most treatments for acid reflux involve making dietary or lifestyle changes.
Many vitamins, herbs, and supplements may also help relieve symptoms.
Here are six supplements that may be beneficial for treating acid reflux.
1. Betaine HCl with pepsin
Betaine hydrochloride (HCl) is a compound used to increase stomach acid.
Low levels of stomach acid may slow digestion and the absorption of nutrients, as well as cause a range of side effects, including heartburn, stomach pain, and acid reflux.
One study in 6 people with low levels of stomach acid showed that taking 1500 mg of betaine HCl increased stomach acidity.
Betaine hydrochloride is also paired with pepsin in many supplements. Pepsin is a digestive enzyme in stomach acid that breaks proteins into smaller units.
One 6-week study in 97 people with indigestion found that taking pepsin combined with amino acid hydrochloride significantly reduced symptoms like stomach pain and burning.
That said, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has concluded there’s not currently enough evidence to ensure the effectiveness of betaine HCl or pepsin at increasing stomach acidity.
Therefore, more research is needed on whether betaine HCl with pepsin may be beneficial for treating acid reflux.
Summary: Some studies indicate that betaine HCl may increase stomach acidity in people with low stomach acid, thereby reducing symptoms of acid reflux. Pepsin may also relieve indigestion symptoms, but more research is needed.
2. B vitamins
Some research suggests that B vitamins, including folate, riboflavin, and vitamin B6, may help treat acid reflux.
One study found that increased intake of several B vitamins was associated with a lower risk of reflux esophagitis, a condition characterized by inflammation in the esophagus often caused by acid reflux.
Moreover, greater intakes of folate and vitamin B6 were linked to a lower risk of esophagus cancer and a condition called Barrett’s esophagus, both of which are potential complications of long-term GERD.
Another older study compared the effectiveness of a supplement containing vitamin B6, folic acid, vitamin B12, L-tryptophan, melatonin, betaine, and methionine with an over-the-counter treatment for heartburn.
After 40 days of treatment, 100% of those who took the supplement experienced complete relief from heartburn symptoms, compared with just 65% of those who took the over-the-counter treatment.
However, remember that B vitamins were just one component of this supplement, so it’s unclear how much of an effect B vitamins may have had.
Further research is needed to evaluate how B vitamins affect acid reflux symptoms when used alone.
Summary: B vitamins may be linked to a lower risk of complications caused by acid reflux. They may also relieve heartburn symptoms when paired with other compounds, but more research is needed.
Melatonin is a hormone that’s primarily responsible for regulating the sleep-wake cycle.
Although it’s typically used to treat insomnia and improve sleep quality, some studies have found that melatonin may also aid in treating acid reflux.
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According to one study in 36 people, taking melatonin, either alone or with heartburn medication, for 4–8 weeks reduced symptoms of GERD.
Other research has found that low melatonin levels may also be associated with a higher risk of digestive disorders, including peptic ulcers and acid reflux.
What’s more, some studies suggest that melatonin may help protect against inflammation of the esophagus, which could prevent long-term health issues associated with GERD, such as Barrett’s esophagus.
Summary: Some research indicates that melatonin may reduce acid reflux and protect against long-term health issues caused by GERD.
Iberogast is an over-the-counter supplement to treat acid reflux and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).
It’s made from a blend of herbal extracts, including peppermint, licorice root, and milk thistle fruit.
One review of 12 studies showed that Iberogast is generally well-tolerated and may help reduce symptoms of indigestion more effectively than a placebo.
Another study in 272 people showed that Iberogast significantly improved digestive symptoms, such as upper stomach pain, heartburn, and loss of appetite, within 15 minutes of the first dose.
Furthermore, one animal study found Iberogast as effective as a traditional antacid at decreasing stomach acidity. It also hindered rebound acidity, an increased stomach acid once medications are stopped.
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Summary: Iberogast is an herbal supplement that may help decrease stomach acid and relieve symptoms of acid reflux.
Probiotics are a type of beneficial bacteria found in the digestive tract. They play a key role in gut health and immune function.
Some research has found that supplementing with probiotics may help decrease symptoms of acid reflux.
For instance, one review of 13 studies found that 79% observed that probiotics had beneficial effects on symptoms of GERD, including reduced regurgitation, decreased heartburn, and less stomach pain and nausea.
In another 12-week study, combining heartburn medication with probiotics reduced the risk of treatment relapse compared with a control group that only got heartburn medication.
One recent study found that taking probiotics may reduce the risk of gut flora changes caused by the long-term use of proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) to treat GERD.
Summary: Probiotics may help improve symptoms of acid reflux and reduce the risk of treatment relapse when used with heartburn medication. Probiotics may also help prevent changes in the gut flora caused by PPIs.
Ginger, scientifically known as Zingiber officinale, is a plant used as both a spice and herbal supplement.
It’s often used to soothe stomach upset and treat issues like nausea and indigestion.
One small study found that taking 3 grams of ginger powder daily for four weeks improved several symptoms of indigestion, including stomach pain, belching, and feelings of fullness.
Another study found that ginger may speed up stomach emptying. Delayed stomach emptying can contribute to symptoms of acid reflux, such as heartburn and regurgitation.
Other research suggests that pairing ginger with other herbal extracts, such as perilla and artichoke leaf, may relieve acid reflux.
That said, consuming high amounts of ginger may cause adverse side effects and worsen issues like heartburn and stomach discomfort, so be sure only to use it as directed.
Summary: Ginger may improve symptoms of indigestion and help speed stomach emptying. It may also decrease acid reflux when paired with other ingredients, such as perilla and artichoke leaf.
Natural remedies may help treat acid reflux, including many vitamins and supplements.
In particular, supplements like betaine HCl with pepsin, B vitamins, melatonin, Iberogast, probiotics, and ginger have been shown to help relieve symptoms of acid reflux.
For best results, combine these supplements with other healthy dietary and lifestyle changes to help reduce acid reflux.