If you deal with the burning that comes with acid reflux, you’ve probably tried many treatments to find relief. While over-the-counter medications and lifestyle changes can help, natural remedies, like ginger, may also ease your symptoms.
Ginger is a central ingredient in Chinese medicine. In small doses, ginger can act as an anti-inflammatory in your system. If you take too much, though, you may make your symptoms worse.
Ginger is rich in antioxidants and chemicals that may provide a number of medicinal benefits.
Its phenolic compounds are said to relieve gastrointestinal irritation and lessen gastric contractions. This means ginger can reduce the likelihood of acid flowing from your stomach back into your esophagus.
Ginger can also reduce inflammation. A 2011 study found that participants taking ginger supplements had reduced inflammation markers within one month.
These anti-inflammatory properties are of special interest to researchers, particularly when it comes to acid reflux. This is because inflammation in the esophagus is a key characteristic of the condition.
Ginger may also reduce nausea, prevent muscle pain, and ease swelling.
Although ginger’s anti-inflammatory properties may make it effective against acid reflux, there isn’t a medical basis for this. At this time, there aren’t any studies on whether ginger is a suitable treatment for acid reflux symptoms.
Research on ginger is primarily limited to its nausea-reducing capabilities. Researchers are still investigating the general safety of ginger and any medicinal properties that it may have.
Ginger can be peeled, then grated, sliced, diced, or shaved to use when cooking. It can be eaten raw, steeped in water to make ginger tea, or added to soup, stir-fry, salad, or other meals.
One of the chemicals found in ginger is an ingredient in some antacids. Ginger is also available in powder, capsule, oil, or tea form.
The most important thing to remember is to take ginger in moderation. Sticking to around four grams — a bit less than an eighth of a cup — should be enough to give you some relief without making symptoms worse. You can also split this up and take divided doses throughout the day.
Risks and warnings
When taken in small doses, there are few side effects associated with the use of ginger. Minor side effects may include gas or bloating.
If you have an inflammatory condition such as acid reflux, taking more than four grams of ginger in a 24-hour period may cause additional heartburn.
Side effects are generally associated with powdered ginger.
Not into ginger? There are a variety of over-the-counter (OTC) treatments you can try if your acid reflux is occasional.
- Tums and other antacids can help neutralize stomach acids and provide quick relief.
- H2 blockers, such as cimetidine (Tagamet) and famotidine (Pepcid), reduce the amount of acid your stomach produces.
- Proton pump inhibitors, such as omeprazole (Prilosec), work to reduce stomach acids and heal the esophagus.
Stronger medicines are available to help treat more advanced cases of this disease. You’ll need a prescription for these medications. Your doctor may advise you to use one or more of these medications for best results:
- Prescription-strength H2 blockers, such as nizatidine (Axid) and ranitidine (Zantac)
- Prescription-strength proton pump inhibitors, such as esomeprazole (Nexium) and lansoprazole (Prevacid)
These drugs carry a slight risk of vitamin B-12 deficiency and bone fracture.
Esophageal-strengthening medications, such as Baclofen, can reduce how often your sphincter relaxes and allows acid to flow upward. This drug has “significant” side effects and is usually reserved for the most severe cases of GERD.
If medications don’t give you relief, surgery may be another option. Doctors typically perform one or two procedures for people with GERD. One strengthens the esophageal sphincter using a LINX device. Another reinforces the sphincter by wrapping the top of the stomach around the lower esophagus.
Small doses of ginger may be a safe, effective treatment for acid reflux. As with many alternative treatments, the evidence is somewhat lacking. More studies are needed to evaluate its true efficacy.
If you do choose to try ginger, be sure to let your doctor know. They can offer more guidance and ensure that this won’t interact with any medications you may be taking. Your doctor can also help if your reflux has become severe.