Acid Reflux? This Type of Honey Works When Heartburn Medicines Don't

Heartburn is one of the most common health complaints around. We’re all familiar with the telltale burning in the chest. But that’s not the only way heartburn can wreak havoc on our body. “Some 6 in 10 women over age 50 have acid reflux, but only 9% of them show classic symptoms,” says Jacob Teitelbaum, MD, author of From Fatigued to Fantastic! Read on to learn how this sneaky form of reflux might be bothering you and how to easily and affordably fix it. (Hint: a special kind of honey is good for acid reflux!) And don’t miss the amazing success story at the end about how Danielle Carpenter, 41, soothed her chronic reflux naturally.

What is “silent” acid reflux?

There is a type of reflux that doesn’t comes with the traditional pain of heartburn. This so-called “silent” reflux often happens at night while women sleep and can lead to side effects like next-day fatigue, sore throat and dry cough. Many women who suffer from this form of reflux don’t even know they have it.

Related: MD: Your ‘Heartburn’ May Be Caused By *Low* Stomach Acid — The Easy At-Home Test and Cure

How reflux damages health

We already know silent reflux can make women lose sleep and experience chronic, mysterious symptoms. Complicating matters: Researchers in Italy find that popular acid-suppressing medications called proton pump inhibitors or PPIs don’t work for this type of reflux. In fact, they can actually worsen the problem since after stopping use, reflux often intensifies, a condition called rebound hyperacidity. Sadly, many people don’t know there are natural, effective remedies that can help with reflux.

Related: 9 Natural Ways to Get Rid of Heartburn Fast at Night — And Wake Up Happy

Traditional acid blockers can be dangerous

The health risks of taking acid-reducing PPIs long-term are well documented. They are linked to things like vitamin deficiencies and changes in the gut microbiome. But people taking these drugs also face an increased risk of cognitive decline, according to research in Neurology. The University of Minnesota study followed 5,700 healthy adults over the age of 45 for more than 5 years. They found that adults who took the drugs, known by names like Prilosec, Nexium and Prevacid, for 4.4 years had a 33% higher risk of developing dementia than those who never took the meds. Adds acid expert David Perlmutter, MD, “15 million Americans use PPIs and could be putting themselves in harm’s way.”

Could you be suffering from "silent" acid reflux?

To get a formal diagnosis, your doctor can order tests like an upper endoscopy to determine acid levels and inflammation. Or check the symptoms below to get an idea of whether you’re as risk of this atypical form for reflux. And if you suspect you’re suffering, following the easy steps below can bring relief.

  • Brain fog

  • Restless sleep

  • Throat pressure

  • Postnasal drip

  • Hoarse voice, dry cough

  • Nausea, acid taste in mouth

Natural ways to alleviate acid reflux

Enjoy a spoonful of manuka honey

jar of manuka honey: does honey help with heartburn
mashuk/Getty Images

Medical physiologists commenting in the British Medical Journal found that consuming a teaspoon of honey eased reflux— a finding that comes as no surprise to clinical herbalist William Siff, author of The Plant Medicine Protocol. “All honey has soothing properties, but manuka honey stands out for its anti-inflammatory powers” to help heal tissue damaged by acid, he says, adding that it also nurtures gut health to maintain the right level of stomach acid. And integrative medicine expert Taz Bhatia, MD, author of The Hormone Shift, adds, "Manuka honey helps with reflux by coating the gut lining and improving stomach acid." Wow, now we're wondering why we didn’t ask ourselves “is honey good for acid reflux?” earlier! (Click over to our sister publication to learn about more raw honey benefits.)

To get the perks: Before meals, take 1 tsp. of potent New Zealand-sourced manuka honey with a UMF (Unique Manuka Factor) rating of 15 to 32, which is considered medical-grade.

Related: Manuka Honey Peanut Butter Blossoms: The Cookie You Didn’t Know You Needed

Sip aloe vera juice

glass of aloe vera juice: is honey good for acid reflux
piyaphun/GEtty Images

Another smart tip for beating acid buildup: “Sip 1 to 2 oz. of aloe vera juice with 1⁄4 tsp. of baking soda in water to neutralize acid,” says Dr. Teitelbaum. (Dr. Bhatia recommends using aloe vera too.)

Related: Research reveals Aloe vera can speed a slow thyroid

To heal, try turmeric

In a BMJ Evidence-Based Medicine study, curcumin (a compound in turmeric) eased heartburn as effectively as PPIs. “Turmeric allows patients to escape the vicious cycle that fosters prolonged use of Rx drugs,” says Dr. Teitelbaum. Subjects took a curcumin extract containing 2,000 mg. a day, equivalent to CuraMed 375 mg once a day.

Related: Turmeric Speeds Weight Loss

Manuka honey success story: Danielle Carpenter, 41

Danielle Carpenter, who healed reflux: is honey good for acid reflux
Lorinda Keller

Not again,” sighed Danielle Carpenter, tossing and turning in bed before finally sitting up. “Like so many times before, I’d woken up in the middle of the night, my throat burning with pain and pressure,” she recalls. “I moved to the rocking chair, trying to get relief, but I knew how this no-sleep cycle played out. I’m going to feel like a zombie tomorrow…

Danielle always felt tired and foggy

“A few years ago, nights like those were common and always left me feeling drained. But I was so busy taking care of my family that I didn’t see a way out of the fog. And even though I was tired, I didn’t want to rely on coffee for energy. I didn’t like how caffeine made me feel.

“The pain persisted for four years, and I started to worry. This didn’t feel like how people described heartburn. It wasn’t in my chest. It was in my throat. When I mentioned my symptoms during annual check-ups, my doctor wasn’t much help and told me to try over-the-counter heartburn aids like Tums. If I took them, I would feel better for about a half hour. Then I was in pain again.

The pain grew worse

“I noticed the pain got worse as I aged. If I drank a glass of wine or ate a meal with tomatoes, the pain flared, leading to another restless night and another day of exhaustion.

“One day, I called my sister, who worked as a speech language pathologist. She understood the throat. I told her what had been happening and she encouraged, ‘You really should get that checked out by someone who will listen. It could be serious.’

“My regular doctor referred me to an ear, nose and throat doctor. Waiting for my appointment, I was a nervous wreck. My imagination grew wild, fearing I had a serious problem with my thyroid…or a tumor. I can’t get sick. I have three kids who need me.

Looking for a remedy

“At the appointment, the specialist told me, ‘You’re not dying. It’s just acid reflux.’ I was surprised, but relieved. Turns out, reflux can present in ‘silent’ ways during sleep. I was told my reflux was a remnant of my three pregnancies, which I learned pushed up my esophagus, bringing stomach acid with it. The constant acid had damaged my tissue. The doctor added, ‘You’ll have to be on prescription medicine the rest of your life.’

“I didn’t like the sound of that. I worried about the long-term effects of prescription acid-blocking medicines called PPIs. So at first I tried to rotate meds, taking one for six months, then taking a break and trying something else. But I never got lasting relief, and I was still exhausted. I was tired of ‘Band-Aid’ fixes. I needed a permanent solution.

An answer at last

“I was always looking for alternative treatments, and one day, I met a man, Gavin Gear (CEO of Logix Biosciences), who was passionate about medical-grade manuka honey. After it helped him, he was inspired to make products to help other people. He gave me a bottle of ManukaGuard Manuka Honey/Heartburn, which combines manuka honey with apple cider vinegar.

“I was on my last straw, so I gave it whirl, reminding myself there was no risk. Using the built-in shot glass in the bottle’s cap, I took a swig. The dose was about 2 tsp. It tasted sweet with a little vinegary ‘zing.’ I started taking three shots of the tonic daily, one before each meal. I was told the honey would coat the inflamed tissue in my throat, giving it time to recover, while the vinegar could help restore the pH balance of my gut to reduce acid buildup.

Finally, relief!

“Less than a week later, I woke up and realized I’d slept through the night — no pain! My energy slowly returned. The drink seemed to neutralize my acid and soothe my esophagus. And if I missed a dose, I noticed the pain flare again.

“My healing continued. And after a month, I no longer needed the Rx medication. Over time, I weaned down to taking one shot a day, then to only using it on an as-needed basis. Amazing! I’d been worried about my health for so long, yet the solution was easy.

“Manuka helped me save money on doctor appointments and prescriptions. I haven’t been on reflux medication now for years!

“Today, I always have manuka honey in my medicine cabinet. I’ve told so many women about its benefits. Best of all, now that I’m not chronically tired, I can take better care of myself and my family. No more afternoon slumps. I simply stir a spoonful of manuka honey into herbal tea, and that’s all I need to stay energized in the afternoon!”

This content is not a substitute for professional medical advice or diagnosis. Always consult your physician before pursuing any treatment plan.

For more on the health perks of all kinds of honey, keep reading!

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