You have been fasting since morning and suddenly you feel pain in the chest and stomach. What could be the reason?
It has been more than six hours that you have anything apart from a glass of water. And then when you have food in front of you, you do not feel like eating. Why so?
You had a ball of a time at dinner last night only to realise later that the spicy and oily food is causing stomach discomfort. What has caused it?
Well, the answer to all these questions is ACIDITY!. It is one of the most common problems experienced by people. Although there are various causes for acidity, most of us tend to either pop a pill or reach out for that bottle of antacid to get rid of acidity and resume our daily chores. However, every time you suffer from it, taking medications might not be a good option. Instead, you can try simple home remedies to cure acidity at home naturally.
What Is Acidity?
Acidity is nothing but a feeling of burning sensation in the chest. Also known as heartburn, acidity is caused due to excessive acid in the stomach leading to an imbalance. This further irritates the intestinal lining and in some cases, can also affect the esophageal tissue leading to a burning sensation. Some of the common causes of acidity include eating spicy food frequently, irregular eating habits including skipping meals and late-night meals, excessive stress, drinking alcohol regularly and lack of exercise.
However, with simple home remedies, you can get relief from acidity. But it is important to know when to take which home remedy. Home remedies such as milk, amla and coconut water can work if acidity is caused on an empty stomach, whereas remedies such as chaas and dalchini work best if acidity is due to indigestion or eating spicy foods.
Home Remedies For Acidity And Gas Problem
Unlike other common health problems, acidity can be treated at home with natural remedies. You do not have to invest in high-end products but head to your kitchen to get rid of it. Here are a few quick fixes on how to control and get relief from acidity.
Holy basil (Tulsi) leaves
It acts as one of the best natural remedies for acidity. Tulsi leaves which are known for its medicinal properties can also provide quick relief from heartburn and gas. It is the anti-ulcer property of these leaves that help in lowering the acid level in the stomach. It also stimulates the stomach to produce more mucus thus, neutralizing the excess gastric acid in the stomach.
Tip: The simple and best way to take tulsi leaves for acidity is to chew 4 – 5 leaves when experiencing a burning sensation. However, make sure you chew slowly and swallow its juice to get the most of it. Alternatively, you can even enjoy a cup of warm tulsi decoction. For this, all you need to do is add around 8-10 tulsi leaves in a cup of water and allow it to boil for 5 minutes on a slow flame. Once the solution becomes half its initial volume, strain it and drink when warm. You can add honey to it but do not add milk as it might worsen your stomach woes.
Not many people are aware of the fact that cinnamon (dalchini in Hindi) can act as a natural digestive aid. An Indian spice which is commonly used in biryanis and curries to add taste and flavour to food can help to beat acidity caused due to indigestion. This is because, it contains an active ingredient which helps in the process of digestion thus relieves acidity. So if you experience a bout of acidity after meals, then it is wise to take cinnamon to fight it naturally.
Tip: One simple trick to beat acidity is to add a pinch of cinnamon powder on a teaspoonful of honey or water and consume it after meals. This can help you to get rid of acidity and also aids in digestion, especially after heavy meals. The other home remedy with cinnamon that can work for acidity is to drink a cup of cinnamon tea every day with breakfast or after your first meal. To make this, add around ¼ to ½ teaspoon of cinnamon powder to a cup of water. Boil it and let it steep for a few minutes. Strain and drink this tea twice or thrice a day when suffering from acidity.
Cumin seeds (Jeera)
This spice is used in foods to enhance flavour however, its role to treat acidity is not well known. Jeera seeds contain compounds which act as natural carminative and digestive agents and thus, aid in relieving acidity caused due to indigestion and flatulence. Moreover, it also helps to relieve the symptoms of acidity such as stomach pain and discomfort.
Tip: Cumin seeds can help with acidity when used in combination with other spices. Hence, mix a teaspoon of cumin seed powder, coriander powder and fennel seed powder in half a litre of water. Add a teaspoon of sugar and mix all the ingredients properly. Drink this solution after meals to get rid of acidity and kickstart your day on a healthy note.
You can even enjoy cumin tea to control acidity. For this, add 1/4-1/2 teaspoon of cumin seeds to a cup of water. Let it boil till the water becomes slightly dark in colour. Strain it and let it cool at room temperature. Fill it in a bottle and sip this tea at regular intervals throughout the day. Do this regularly if you experience frequent bouts of acidity.
Cold Milk (doodh)
Cold milk acts as an effective remedy providing instant relief from acidity. As milk contains high amounts of calcium, a mineral which plays a key role in preventing acid build up in the body and hence, causes immediate relief. It also absorbs the excess acid produced in the stomach, thus nullifying its effect on the intestinal lining. Drinking cold milk also eases the burning sensation and pain you might experience during acid reflux. However, if you experience acidity after meals, then it is wise to avoid cold milk as it might hinder with the digestion process and further worsen your acidity (which is due to indigestion).
Tip: It is advised to drink cold (and not warm) milk to get rid of acidity. Remember to not add anything to it including sugar, honey and turmeric but drink it plain. However, if you do not like the taste of plain milk, you can add a strand or two of saffron (known as kesar milk) as it improves the taste and flavour of milk. Some people also drink rose milk (add a spoonful of rose syrup to cold milk) for added taste which is also recommended.
It is known fact buttermilk is a cooling drink which not only neutralises the excess acid in the stomach but also calms the stomach. This drink if taken after meals can also help in digestion because of the presence of probiotic bacteria, which are good for gut health. Lactic acid in buttermilk is responsible for improving digestion and thus, helps you to fight acid reflux and gas trouble at home. Drink a glass of buttermilk every day after meals, if you are prone to frequent acid attacks.
Tip: You can drink plain buttermilk with a pinch of salt for quick relief from acidity. However, by adding few Indian spices to plain buttermilk you can make the remedy more effective. Add fenugreek paste (grind ½ tsp. of fenugreek or methi seeds with a little water) and mix it in a glass of buttermilk. Drink it all through the day to get relief. If you think methi will be slightly bitter in taste, then you can add black pepper powder (roasted and ground in a mortar and pestle) or coriander leaves to buttermilk and drink it along with meals to prevent and get rid of acidity.
Make sure you drink sufficient amount of water. The best way is to drink a glass of lukewarm water every day before hitting the sack and the first thing in the morning (on an empty stomach) as it helps to relieve acidity and prevent it.
Tip: Avoid drinking water during or immediately after a meal, as it can contribute to improper digestion leading to acidity.
Carom Seeds (Ajwain)
Ajwain is one of the common and most popular home remedies to treat gas and acidity caused due to indigestion. Bloating, stomach pain and stomach cramps are common symptoms of flatulence and indigestion. Hence, if you have long gaps between meals, skipped your meals or overate at a function or party, then this natural remedy is the best bet. This is because, it contains a compound, thymol, which helps in secreting the gastric juices which in turn ease indigestion and gas.
Tip: To get rid of acidity or indigestion, take ¼ to ½ teaspoon of ajwain powder and mix it with equal amounts of dried ginger powder. Add a pinch of black salt to it. Take it along with a glass of water after your meals. If you experience frequent bouts of indigestion and acidity, then opt for ajwain water. All you have to do is add a teaspoon of ajwain seeds or 3-4 fresh ajwain leaves to around 2-3 glasses of water and boil. Strain it and drink this water at regular intervals post meals/breakfast for quick relief.
Sipping coconut water on a hot summer day not only quenches the thirst and helps you to stay hydrated but also refreshes your mind and body. But little did we know that this humble drink can also help you to beat acidity. Yes, if you are suffering from acidity especially the first thing in the morning then drinking a glass of coconut water on an empty stomach is the best way to calm your stomach and alleviate acidity. This is because, coconut water contains minerals and vitamins which exert a soothing effect on the stomach and help calm acidity.
Tip: If you suffer from acidity quite frequently or feel a burning sensation in the stomach quite often than not, then make it a routine to start your day with coconut water. However, if you are diabetic, then it is wise to consult your doctor and know how good it is to drink coconut water on a daily basis.
Indian gooseberry (Amla)
Amla is undoubtedly one of the most popular and highly effective home remedies for a wide range of stomach-related problems including gas, acidity and indigestion. Known to be a powerhouse of nutrients, amla is also a good antidote for diabetics. Amla either in the raw form or dried form acts as a great agent to relieve acidity and also improve digestion. Being rich in Vitamin C, it helps to clear toxins from the system and improve overall health.
Tip: Add a teaspoon of freshly prepared amla juice to a cup of lukewarm water and drink it on an empty stomach. This helps in flushing toxins and easing acidity. You can even prepare amla juice at home by crushing few amla pieces in mortar and pestle and straining the paste. You can even chew one or two pieces of fresh or dried amla after meals as it helps in indigestion.
Hing is one of those very few kitchen ingredients which are used to treat acidity and indigestion. One of the best ways to use hing to prevent acidity and indigestion is to make it an integral part of your cooking. It not only adds a unique flavour but also helps in treating gas, indigestion, and acidity. It has anti-inflammatory, carminative, digestive and laxative properties which make it an effective home remedy for digestive woes. It stimulates the mucous membrane of the intestine and aids in the production of gastric juices which promote digestion.
Tip: Mix a pinch of hing with dried ginger powder and black salt. Take it with a glass of water after meals to ease flatulence and indigestion. You can also add a pinch of hing to a glass of buttermilk and have it as an after meal drink. For kids suffering from indigestion and acidity, apply hing (along with water) on the stomach or use a cloth soaked in the hing solution and use it as a fomentation to ease indigestion.
In addition to following these quick-fixes to get rid of acidity at home, eat a healthy diet and exercise regularly. Do consult a doctor if you suffer from frequent bouts of acidity to know the exact cause of it. Follow these home remedies for acidity and stay healthy!
(The article is reviewed by Dr. Lalit Kanodia, General Physician and Dr. Deepak Kumar Soni, Ayurvedacharya)
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