Essential oils for heartburn & acid reflux relief
How This Helps
Acid reflux is the backward or reverse flow of stomach acid into the tube that connects your throat to your stomach (esophagus). This is also known as gastroesophageal reflux (GERD). During an episode of acid reflux, you may feel symptoms such as burning sensation in your chest (heartburn). This may occur after eating a large meal or drinking alcohol or coffee.
Occasionally acid reflux grows to GERD, a more severe form of reflux. The most common symptom of GERD is periodic heartburn that occurs two or more times weekly. Other symptoms may include difficulty swallowing, coughing, wheezing, regurgitation of food or sour liquid, and chest pain, particularly while lying down during the night. Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) and acid reflux are closely related, but the conditions do not necessarily indicate the exact same thing.
In case you've got intermittent acid reflux, lifestyle changes can help. Lose extra weight, eat smaller meals, do not consume two to three hours before bedtime, increase the elevation of your head above the stomach, and avoid foods that seem to trigger heartburn such as fried foods, chocolate, and peppermint. Don't wear tight clothes around your stomach, and eliminate alcohol and tobacco. Essential oils may help provide heartburn relief.
Can essential oils soothe heartburn?
Heartburn is the burning sensation caused due to the backflow or reflux of the stomach acid into the esophagus. This situation is also known as acid reflux. Such episodes are quite common, and almost 40% of people experience such symptoms at least once in a year. However, when the frequency and events are recurrent, then it can be considered as a clinically significant health issue, i.e., gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). Currently followed health practices for heartburn include restricting the spicy and oily food that can result in excess acidity along with proton pump inhibiting medications. 
Essential oils have been used as supplementary healing agents for ages. They have gained paramount importance in the last few decades. These oils are found in the ducts and secretory glands of only 10% of the plants in the flora kingdom. Though there has not been sufficient research on the use of essential oils for heartburn, however, the evidence yields fruitful results. Research suggests that the chemical compounds found in these essential oils may benefit individuals suffering from heartburn or acid reflux as they may help neutralize the stomach acid or reduce the production of excess acid inside the stomach.
See: Hiatal Hernia Diet
Essential oils for heartburn and acid reflux
Essential oils for heartburn and acid reflux relief
Essential oils are natural products that are derived from plants or trees. These essential oils consist of chemical compounds that possess powerful beneficiary properties for the body. The primary benefit of essential oils is that it improves digestion in individuals suffering from heartburn and acid reflux, which results in fewer episodes of heartburn. Traditionally, essential oils that are used for treating heartburn and acid reflux have proven clinical benefits such as anti-inflammatory, antispasmodic, etc. Essential oils that are used in heartburn, usually have different mechanisms of providing relief to the patient. Some oils may cause symptoms to subside quickly, while others may take a bit longer, but in the long run, all these essential oils are beneficial for treating heartburn. As per studies, essential oils for acid reflux are provided below: [3,4]
- Lavender essential oil
This oil is obtained from a shrub called lavender, which is found in many regions of the world, especially in Northern Africa. It is known for its relaxation property. Lavender oil helps soothe the burning sensations of acid reflux and other symptoms which are associated with heartburn. The calming effects of lavender oil help in inducing sleep, which can help individuals who struggle to sleep and suffer from heartburn or acid reflux at night. There are many methods to make use of the lavender oil to soothe heartburn symptoms, such as inhaling the vapors of the oil or rubbing it onto the chest or stomach. Rubbing it onto the stomach helps provide relief from bloating problems as well.
- Lemon essential oil
Lemons have a wide variety of health benefits. As per studies, lemon juice is not advised for people who are suffering from heartburn or acid reflux because of its acidic nature. But lemon oil works well in heartburn as it contains properties that can neutralize the acid in the stomach. Lemon oil also possesses antibacterial properties, which aids in digestion and helps reduce the symptoms of heartburn and acid reflux. Overall, lemon essential oil for GERD is a great healing therapy.
- Peppermint essential oil
Peppermint oil is obtained from an herb called Mentha piperita, which is native to the Mediterranean. Traditionally it is one of the most used oils in medicine due to its versatility. Peppermint oil is a highly recommended oil for heartburn relief. It has a pleasant smell and a soothing effect. The prime property of peppermint oil is that it helps alleviate pain resulting from heartburn and acid reflux. Its cooling effects help soothe the esophagus, which becomes inflamed due to acid reflux and heartburn. The best way of consuming peppermint oil is to include it in an herbal tea or warm water. Alternatively, peppermint oil can also be inhaled in the form of vapor by using scented gels or room diffusers.
- Ginger essential oil
For centuries, ancient medicine has used ginger to treat a wide range of conditions such as nausea, fever, cold, and inflammation. Ginger is popular for its anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties. Ginger essential oil prevents the production of excess acid in the stomach and also helps kill bacteria that play a role in triggering acid reflux. Ginger also aids in digestion and prevents bloating of the stomach, which are secondary reasons for heartburn and acid reflux. Ginger oil can be easily consumed in the form of an herbal tea 30-40 minutes before bed, which could prevent symptoms of heartburn in the morning.
- Turmeric essential oil
Turmeric has proved to be an epitome of ancient medicine. Almost for all the conditions within the body, turmeric has always proved to be useful. Turmeric oil contains potent anti-inflammatory chemical compounds within it, which help in calming the symptoms of heartburn and acid reflux. Due to acid reflux, there is inflammation of the esophageal lining, which creates discomfort in people suffering from heartburn and acid reflux. Turmeric essential oil helps in soothing the inflamed esophageal lining, which helps calm the effects of heartburn and acid reflux.
According to many research studies, it is found that the use of these essential oils in the form of herbal teas before bed is instrumental in preventing episodes of heartburn and acid reflux in most of the individuals. Individuals who complain of heartburn in the morning also feel better by consuming these essential oils at night. These essential oils also help individuals suffering from indigestion, which helps boost their digestive system and helps reduce episodes of heartburn. It is found that the consumption of these essential oils in the form of herbal teas before bed also improves the sleep of the individuals. [5,6,7,8]
Each of the essential oil mentioned above has its own unique set of benefits for heartburn and acid reflux. All of them are easy to apply and have almost zero side effects. There is a wide range of health benefits of these essential oils in addition to heartburn relief. However, if the use of these essential oils does not help ease the signs and symptoms of your heartburn, it is always advised to consult with a nearby doctor immediately.
1. Lee, R., & Mittal, R. (2006). Heartburn and esophageal pain. GI Motility online.
2. Djilani, A., & Dicko, A. (2012). The therapeutic benefits of essential oils. Nutrition, well-being, and health, 7, 155-179.
3. Gunn JWC. The carminative action of volatile oils. J Pharmacol Exp Ther 1920; 16: 39±43.
4. Aromatherapy and essential oils. (2014, December 17) ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMH0032518/
5. Mayo Clinic Staff. Heartburn: Treatments and drugs. (2014, August 7) mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/heartburn/basics/treatment/con-20019545
6. Lavender. (2016, June 21) nccih.nih.gov/health/lavender/ataglance.htm
7. Nanjundaiah, S. M., Annaiah, H. N. M., & Dharmesh, S. M. Gastroprotective effect of ginger rhizome (Zingiber officinale) extract: Role of gallic acid and cinnamic acid in H+, K+-ATPase/H. pylori inhibition and anti-oxidative mechanism. (2011, June 23). Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine. Retrieved from ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3136331/
8. Thosar, N., Silpi Basak, S. Bahadure, R.N., & Rajurkar, M. (2013, September). Antimicrobial efficacy of five essential oils against oral pathogens: An in vitro study. European Journal of Dentistry, 7(Suppl 1), S71–S77 ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4054083/