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Supplements for Heartburn

Question:
Which supplements can help with indigestion and/or heartburn?

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Karen16853   May 20, 2018
Hi,

I started taking TruNature Advanced Digestive Probiotic just for general digestive health, after running out of the brand I had been taking. After several days, I noticed I was not having any heartburn/reflux. I continued taking the TruNature, and it has significantly reduced my incidence of heartburn/reflux. Before I started taking it, I had heartburn/reflux 3-4 times a week (and had been diagnosed with GERD). I have been taking the TruNature for 11 weeks now, and in that time have had only 3 episodes of heartburn. I take 2 capsules twice a day.

I do not have any stake, financial or otherwise, in TruNature or its distributors, other than being a happy customer.

Dennis11416   November 22, 2016
Betain Hydrochloride is the "go to" for reflux. I wonder how much kickback the FDA chiefs are getting from big pharma to shut down HCL use. It's a big scam. My low stomach acid condition, when corrected with supplemental HCL, totally eliminated my symptoms. I'm a little disappointed in Consumer Labs. The drug company execs should all be put in jail for pushing a very dangerous product, namely Proton Pump Inhibitors (PPIs)

ConsumerLab.com   November 23, 2016
Hi Dennis - As explained in our full answer, there is a lack of clinical evidence for betaine hydrochloride, and we think it is important to provide the facts to our subscribers. Nevertheless, we are glad that it appears to be helping you, and you are correct that there are risks with PPIs, about which we have also written.

Dennis11418   November 23, 2016
There are many legit supplements that lack a formal scientific, peer reviewed study to support their efficacy. The reason is that scientific studies are extremely expensive and are usually contraindicated when the outcome of the study is not likely to result in a patented product or process to benefit the study sponsors going forward. Thus, lack of scientific evidence is not a legitimate reason for the FDA to take their proposed action to reclassify HCL as a drug. It's obvious their motive is to help protect drug company profits, which, in the case of anti-acid related product sales, amount to over ten billion dollars a year. There are a significant number of prominent functional medicine doctors who support HCL use to treat reflux issues. The anecdotal evidence pointing to low stomach acid as a chief cause of reflux is out there. It would be a disservice to eliminate a potential cure in favor of a band aid fix (PPIs) with significant negative health issues.

ConsumerLab.com   November 23, 2016
Hi Dennis - Your point is valid that there is no often little financial incentive for a supplement company to fund a large study if it has not proprietary rights to the product, which may be a reason for a lack of clincial evidence. To clarify, the FDA has not "eliminated" betaine hydrochloride or banned it as a supplement.

Dennis11420   November 24, 2016
You are correct. However, if you follow the link you provided to the FDA site, it is very clear in their preliminary pronouncement that (1) they consider HCL a drug and not a supplement and (2) there is insufficient scientific evidence to approve HCL as a drug. That is pretty plain to me as to where this is going. If it is not a supplement but an unproven drug, it can't be sold OTC.

ConsumerLab.com   November 25, 2016
Acutally, the FDA considers it a drug if marketed as an acidifier and it can't be sold OTC. However, supplements are not OTC and it appears that betaine hydrochloride can be sold as a supplement so long as not marketed with drug claims, such as being an acidifier.

Jan11292   September 21, 2016
I am a dietitian (RDN) and Certified LEAP Therapist. My husband came back MRT reactive to corn, and learned that even traces of corn sweetener was a major trigger for his heartburn. (He'd been working in the hot-outdoors and drinking sports drinks) - He switched to tea with cane sugar or corn free foods and his heartburn resolved 100% in 4 days. Now, 10 years later, too much corn syrup, soda will trigger heartburn for him.

jennifer11414   November 22, 2016
This is very helpful idea. I will try it! Thank you.

ten8202   December 20, 2015
If anyone has indigestion, heart burn or is lactose intolerant it is suggested that they be tested for Celiac disease. Information can be found at Celiac.org.,niddk.nih.gov/celiac, mayoclinic.org/celiac, celiaccentral.com, U of Maryland, etc. I have Gluten Sensitivity and after going gluten free 16 years ago over 7 symptoms disappeared in 2 1/2 to 3 years.
4 day headaches disappeared immediately.

ConsumerLab.com   December 21, 2015
Hi ten - Thank you for mentioning celiac disease. As discussed above, it's important to consider whether symptoms may be caused by use of medications, or certain conditions. You may be interested to know that one study found a certain type of digestive enzyme to be helpful for people with celiac disease -- this study is discussed in the Review of Digestive Enzymes: https://www.consumerlab.com/reviews/_/digestive-enzymes/#whatitis

Susan8199   December 20, 2015
I didn't see any mention of DGL or deglycinerated licorice. It works great for me with no side effects. Recommended by my naturopath. Tastes better than Tums.

Leonard11415   November 22, 2016
Same here. It keeps heartburn away in most cases if chewed thoroughly 20-30 minutes before an offending meal, but even better if you chew a couple of tablets every day as a stomach conditioner. It can be effective after the fact, to reduce or eliminate an instance of GERD that you didn't expect - though sometimes not as well as chewing it beforehand.

ConsumerLab.com   December 29, 2015
Hi Susan -- Thanks for sharing your experience using DGL (deglycyrrhizinated licorice). More about this can be found in the Encyclopedia article about gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD): https://www.consumerlab.com/tnp.asp?chunkiid=38738

G8101   November 26, 2015
For stomach aches & nausea: chew peppermint candy or drink hot tea made with a peppermint tea bag or 2. Terrible stomach ache at work one day and all I had were these tea bags. After drinking the hot peppermint tea I was shocked it went away completely. Also, it was a very bad stomach ache. I had heard of this remedy growing up but never tried it. Cheap fix too!

Juli8192   December 20, 2015
I discovered the same thing. It came in very handy during Thanksgiving when I horribly overate, as we tend to do. Within 30 minutes my stomach felt almost normal again.

Nat8100   November 26, 2015
You may claim that there is little evidence for the use of Betaine Hydochloride to help treat indigestion but this is essential for me.

I take 5 HCL tabs per meal. If I take none I have extreme indigestion, extreme pain, excessive gas and find it difficult to sleep from the discomfort.
I have done a double blind test with the HCL tabs and the difference between placebo and HCL tabs is huge

Patricia8198   December 20, 2015
Thanks for your comment. I too depend on HCl, in the form of Betaine HCl for good digestion. There are products from several manufacturers on the shelves of health food stores. It is usually sold with pepsin in the tablets/capsules as well. (I'll just mention that it's the FDA that claims there is little evidence betaine HCl is effective; it takes millions of dollars to get FDA approval, adding study costs and FDA fees.)

It was in reading one of Ann Louise Gittleman's books that I was introduced to the notion that not all acid reflux is caused by having too much acid. (Detailed information is also available on her website.) Another remedy she recommends trying is apple cider vinegar. I haven't tried it because it is not desirable to take vinegar into restaurants. :-)

I have tried eating chocolate or tomatoes or other acid-increasing foods hoping they would be adequate to stimulate my stomach, but I always have to take betaine HCl if I want my food digested in a reasonable amount of time with no reflux problems.

Jeanne8203   December 21, 2015
My alternative doctor recommended HCL for me when I eat fatty meals. As one gets older, stomach acid can decline and taking HCL really helps. I don't take it often but when I do need it, it's amazing. Only one or two is all I take!

Robert8098   November 25, 2015
Look at the following paper: DiSilvestro RA, Verbruggen MA, Offutt EJ. Anti-heartburn effects of a fenugreek fiber product. Phytotherapy Research 2011; 25(1):88-91. Note that the intervention was fenugreek fiber, not the whole herb. Also, note that we gave the product before meals as a preventive agent; it was not a post meal treatment.

Jeanne8097   November 25, 2015
Products I recommend in my nutrition practice for immediate relief are Enzymatic Therapy's DGL ULTRA chewable tablets and Life Extension's Esophageal Guardian. They are very effective without harming normal gastric function.

The Esophageal Guardian forms temporary "foam rafts" to prevent the stomach fluids from re-fluxing into the esophagus. The DGL can be chewed like you would a Tums and is soothing to the gastric lining.

I have used both products to take people off long term PPI meds. They deal with the rebound that happens when you try to quit taking PPIs.

Jeanne8204   December 21, 2015
I use DGL often...It really works for me...

ConsumerLab.com   December 21, 2015
Hi Jeanne - Thanks for sharing your experience using DGL (deglycyrrhizinated licorice). Evidence for DGL is discussed in the Encyclopedia article about gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD): https://www.consumerlab.com/tnp.asp?chunkiid=38738

michelle8096   November 25, 2015
I am a registered dietitian and use enteric coated peppermint, as well as probiotics, and sometimes include enzymes in the regimen. Usually, changing the diet to a more anti-inflammatory diet will help tremendously.

This CL Answer initially posted on 11/24/2015. Last updated 8/2/2017.

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