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  • Writer's pictureDr. Brian Lum

Natural Alternatives To Heartburn Medication

Updated: Jun 7, 2023

There has never been a better time to try out natural alternative to heartburn medication.

Recent studies have linked heartburn medication to kidney damage, bone fracture, and dementia [1].

Now, the FDA is publicly recommending that a popular heartburn medication, Zantac, be pulled from the market due to high levels of the contaminant N-Nitrosodimethylamine (NDMA) [2].

Fortunately, there are more ways than ever to treat heartburn naturally.

Not only do proton pump inhibitors (PPI) and antacids have the potential to cause long term health consequences - they do not actually address the underlying problem.

Once you restore natural digestion, you will not only enjoy being symptom free, but you will also feel better overall.

Translucent human body with highlighted stomach and esophagus. Text overlay natural alternatives to heartburn medication Functional Healthcare institute

Natural therapies can be much more effective than pharmaceutical interventions if they target the cause of symptoms. 

The key is to address why you’re experiencing heartburn or acid reflux instead of just covering the symptoms up. 

As always, check with your doctor or schedule an appointment with me before taking any new supplements or beginning a treatment plan.

4 Major Causes Of Heartburn 

1. Low Stomach Acid Production

One of the most common causes of heartburn is low stomach acid. This is a common effect of stress and a poor diet that is high in refined sugar and low in fruits and vegetables.

When you don't have enough stomach acid, undigested food in the stomach and the beginning part of your small intestine begins to interact with 'bad bacteria.'

This reaction impedes your ability to produce stomach acid which feeds a cycle of being unable to digest food which leads to lower stomach acid production.

Much of heartburn medication marketing shows the medicine blocking stomach acid production, but we know now that blocking stomach acid production can cause serious health problems and long term symptoms.

Chronically low stomach acid can result in stomach cramps, heart burn, the sensation that your stomach never really empties, fatigue and bloating.

Could Low Stomach Acid Be Causing Your Heartburn?

  • Are you a high stress person? 

  • Or have you experiencing high stress over the 6 months or more? 

  • Do you crave sweet foods? 

  • Has your diet been missing high quality fruit and vegetables? Do you eat a lot of processed grains?

Natural Ways To Increase Stomach Acid Production

Sometimes all you need are a few dietary changes to boost stomach acid production to get rid of your heartburn.

Other times, patients have tried these remedies but they do not help. In that case, personalized treatment is needed.

A very effective way to kick start stomach acid production is to squeeze the juice of a half of a lemon into 8 ounces of water and drink it first thing in the morning (if citrus is a trigger for your heartburn then this is not the right intervention for you).

Celery juice can be fantastic at naturally restoring your stomach acid. Start with two (washed, organic) stalks of celery, freshly juiced, taken 15 minutes before each meal.

Other Natural Supplements For Low Stomach Acid

  • Marshmallow root*

  • Betaine HCL

  • Deglycyrrhizinated Licorice (DGL)

  • L-glutamine*

  • Zinc

  • Carnosine 

*If you experience severe bloating, L-glutamine and marshmallow root may not be the best for you as the bad bacteria built up in the small intestine may try to use as a fuel source 

2. Low Liver Function

Your liver creates bile so it can digest fats in your diet. 

This bile is also how the liver detoxifies your body. 

If bile is not being produced adequately or secreted in to the small intestine enough you can experience a range of digestive symptoms including heartburn.

Symptoms Of Low Bile Production

  • Acid reflux - low bile production lowers stomach acid production, this is a major cause of heart burn 

  • Bloating - if bile doesn’t flow well, toxins and bad bacteria will interact creating excess gas production (like methane and hydrogen gas) 

  • Skin Problems - Eczema, hives, mysterious rashes, acne, dry skin

  • Sleep Problems - Sleeplessness and inability to get restful sleep. If you wake up around 1-3:30am almost nightly that is a strong indicator that your liver is behind your wakefulness

Your liver gets rid of toxic garbage by putting it into the bile. The bile then escorts the toxins safely into your intestines to be excreted. 

If your liver and bile detoxification process is not efficiently working, the toxins will try to get out of your body using another detoxification route (like your skin through sweating or your lungs through expiration).

Since this new detoxification route is a 'pressure valve' for the primary means of detoxification, this new route can get jammed with too much material.

Symptoms of a clogged detoxification pathway will vary depending on which organ is doing the heavy lifting - if it is the skin you may have rashes and acne, if it is the lungs you may develop persistent infection or cough.

How Do I Know If I Have A Liver/Bile Production Problem?

  • Do you experience bloating, abdominal discomfort, and or acid reflux after a fried or high fat meal? 

  • Do you wake up almost every night between 1-3:30am? 

  • Do suffer from acne or other skin problems? 

  • Do you experience dull achy pain around the right rib cage area? 

  • Do you get headaches often? 

  • Do you have problems regulating your body temperature? 

  • Do you have unexplained shoulder blade or arm pain that doesn’t go away? 

  • Are you on the keto diet? (this is key as high fat diets over time will wear out your ability to produce high quality bile)

Natural Treatments For Increased Bile Production

These are a good first step but in almost every case that I have treated, the person needs more personalized approach to fully correct the problem in addition to more potent interventions

  • milk thistle

  • dandelion root

  • lemon water 

  • celery juice 

  • infrared light over the liver area 

3. Underlying Infection 

A majority of antacid medications work by blocking histamine receptors on gastric cells to decrease stomach acid production. 

Other medications work by blocking stomach acid production altogether, these are called proton pump inhibitors.

You need stomach acid to maintain a healthy digestive tract as well as a healthy immune system but it is possible to have too much of a good thing.

Just as too little stomach acid can produce heartburn, so can too much stomach acid. Frequently, too much stomach acid is caused by too much histamine.

This excess histamine is often caused by underlying infection. Testing for and treating the specific infection that you have is critical in resolving symptoms quickly.

The specialized testing I offer is designed to go beyond basic testing to find out if you have infection, low stomach acid production or even a parasite.

H. Pylori is an infection that is frequently behind severe heartburn symptoms [3].

If testing indicates you have an H. Pylori, it is important to clear the infection properly. 

H. Pylori is very contagious and in some cases your whole family should be treated - natural, supportive options can include mastic gum, sulphoronae, zinc carnosine

Parasitic infection 

If you know you have histamine intolerance or have unexplained symptoms anywhere in the body, then a parasite investigation may be warranted. 

Parasitic infections will cause your immune system to increase histamine production and release it as part as an effort to get rid of them. 

Excess histamine causes increased stomach acid production which can cause acid reflux.

How Do I Know If I Have A Parasite?

Do You Have:

  • Skin issues, rashes, hives, or eczema? 

  • Bloating? 

  • Rectal itch? 

  • Gut ulcers?

  • Grinding of teeth when asleep? 

  • Dark circles under eyes? 

  • Food sensitivities? 

  • Changes in appetite? 

  • Breathing problems like asthma? 

  • Iron, B6, or zinc deficiency? 

  • Nail problems? 

  • Other digestive symptoms? 

A comprehensive stool analysis is what i typically use to check for parasites.

It's important to not guess and self treat if you suspect parasites as parasites can harbor other types of infection and even can contain toxins in them, you may even need to be treated for heavy metal toxicity.

4. Mold Exposure 

If you have been exposed to mold in the past or are currently exposed it can be a cause of your acid reflux. 

For some, their genetic makeup can make it likely that mold exposure will increase histamine production, this increased histamine can increase stomach acid production which can cause heartburn symptoms

If you have a severe case of acid reflux - then mold toxicity becomes more likely 

I usually utilize a urine mycotoxin test to determine if mold toxicity is the source of your severe heartburn symptoms.

From there we would determine a personalized treatment plan to safety chelate (remove) the mold from your body.

I strongly advise self diagnosing or purchasing over the counter herbs and supplements as many of these are strong and can pull out mold from your tissues quickly only to have it redistributed in your body, causing further problems.

Symptoms of Mold Exposure

  • sore throat

  • runny nose

  • chronic congestion

  • chronic cough

  • wheezing

  • anxiety, depression

Get Personalized Treatment In An Online Consultation

If your case is particularly severe, if you have 'tried everything', or if you have other heath concerns you want to treat naturally, I offer online and in-person consultations and appointments

It may be that you have been taking heartburn medication for so long that you have developed symptoms that are difficult to treat on your own.

Not only can antacids and proton pump inhibitors can hurt your stomach’s ability to create its own acid and lead to poor digestion, it can also cause B12 deficiencies (including neuropathy induced B12 deficiency), memory problems and other neurological symptoms. 

In your particular case, it may be a combination of a few factors above that is causing your symptoms.

I have a worldwide consulting practice and am accepting new patients.

You can talk to me directly by scheduling a Free 15 Minute Consultation or you can call or text my office at 913-728-5291.

My clinic offers functional medicine appointments as well as manual chiropractic treatments. I do online consultations for those out-of-state or outside of the United States.


If you think that you may have a medical emergency, call your doctor or 911 immediately.  No action or inaction should be taken based solely on the contents of this information. Nor should you ever delay seeking medical advice or treatment due to the information contained on this Website.


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