Indigestion, also known as dyspepsia, is a common condition that causes discomfort in the upper abdomen. The main symptoms of indigestion include abdominal pain, bloating, burping, and feeling excessively full after eating just a small amount of food.
While indigestion is usually not a serious condition, it can still cause significant discomfort. Fortunately, there are several effective home remedies that can help provide relief from indigestion symptoms. Here are 10 of the top home remedies to try:
1. Over-The-Counter Antacids
Antacids are one of the most common home remedies for indigestion relief. Antacids work by neutralizing the excess stomach acid that is thought to cause indigestion discomfort. Popular over-the-counter antacids contain ingredients like calcium carbonate, magnesium hydroxide, or aluminum hydroxide.
To use an antacid for indigestion, follow the dosage instructions on the package. You'll usually take 1-2 tablets after meals or whenever you experience indigestion symptoms. Look for antacids that don't contain magnesium, aluminum, or sodium if you have hypertension or heart disease. Chewable tablets may work faster than swallowed capsules or tablets.
Antacids are generally very safe when used as directed for occasional indigestion. However, long-term use can potentially interfere with the absorption of certain vitamins and minerals. For best results, only use antacids on a temporary basis until your indigestion symptoms resolve.
2. Baking Soda
Baking soda, also known as sodium bicarbonate, is a natural antacid that works similarly to over-the-counter medications. Baking soda neutralizes stomach acid on contact, which can help reduce gas, bloating, and burning sensations caused by indigestion.
To use baking soda for indigestion relief, mix 1/2 to 1 teaspoon of baking soda in a half glass of water. Drink the solution after meals or whenever indigestion strikes. You can also dissolve 1/2 teaspoon of baking soda under your tongue to avoid the bitter taste.
Like antacids, baking soda may interfere with the absorption of certain nutrients if used excessively long-term. It's considered safe to use up to twice daily as needed for occasional indigestion relief. Too much baking soda could potentially raise sodium levels if you have high blood pressure or heart issues. Always consult your doctor before using baking soda if you have a serious medical condition.
What to Eat When You Have Indigestion
In addition to remedies, watching your diet can also help ease indigestion symptoms:
- Bananas - The high potassium and fiber content in bananas make them easy to digest and less irritating to the stomach.
- Yogurt - Healthy probiotic bacteria in yogurt can help balance gut flora and reduce indigestion-causing bacteria overgrowth. Look for plain Greek yogurt without added sugar.
- Oatmeal - Oats are high in soluble fiber that can help regulate digestion and relieve constipation, which often worsens indigestion. Avoid heavily sweetened instant oatmeal packets.
- Broth-Based Soups - Broths are simple to digest and contain electrolytes to rehydrate during indigestion flare-ups. Chicken soup especially may help reduce inflammation.
- Rice - Plain white or brown rice is a gentle whole grain that is easy on the stomach compared to other high fiber foods when you're experiencing indigestion.
- Applesauce - The pectin fiber in applesauce can relieve constipation without irritating indigestion. Look for unsweetened varieties without extra sugar.
- Bone Broth - Fasting or a bone broth fast may give your gut a rest and allow natural healing when digestion is severely compromised from indigestion.
Avoid heavy, spicy, fatty, acidic, or heavily processed foods when indigestion strikes, as these are more difficult to digest and may exacerbate symptoms. Stick to simple, bland foods that are gentle on the stomach.
3. Peppermint or Chamomile Tea
Herbal teas containing peppermint or chamomile can provide soothing relief from indigestion symptoms. Both herbs are thought to relax the smooth muscle contractions in the digestive tract, which aids the natural digestion process. Reduced spasms allow food to pass through more comfortably.
Peppermint tea contains menthol, which helps relax the esophagus and reduce pressure in the stomach. To make peppermint tea for indigestion:
- Steep 2 tea bags or 1-2 tsp of dried peppermint leaves in 8 oz of hot water for 5-10 minutes.
- Drink 1-2 cups after meals or whenever indigestion strikes.
Chamomile tea contains anti-inflammatory compounds called apigenin and luteolin that can reduce indigestion discomfort. Make chamomile tea by:
- Steeping 1 tea bag or 1 tsp loose chamomile flowers in 8 oz hot water for 5-10 minutes.
- Drink 1-2 cups chamomile tea daily, either with or between meals for indigestion relief.
Both peppermint and chamomile teas are gentle remedies that are considered safe for occasional use. Avoid chamomile if you're allergic to ragweed, since it comes from the same plant family.
4. Licorice Root
Licorice root contains a compound called glycyrrhizin that has been shown to relax the muscles in the digestive tract and reduce stomach acid production. It provides relief similar to antacids but in a more natural form.
You can find licorice root capsules or tea at most health food stores or online. Follow dosage instructions, usually 1-2 capsules or tea bags per day. Licorice may interact with certain medications like diuretics, so always check with your doctor before using it.
Avoid licorice if you have high blood pressure, liver disease, or are pregnant. The glycyrrhizin compound in large amounts over extended periods can raise blood pressure in some people. As with any remedy, only use licorice short-term until your indigestion resolves.
Fennel is a fragrant culinary herb and food that contains antioxidants and volatile oils like anethole that can ease digestive spasms and gas. The seeds have been used traditionally to soothe indigestion and stomach discomfort.
You can enjoy fennel in a few different forms for indigestion relief:
- Chew 1-2 tsp of fennel seeds after meals. Their flavor is an acquired taste but they work well.
- Sip fennel seed tea made by steeping 1 tsp crushed seeds in 8 oz hot water for 10 minutes.
- Enjoy 1/4-1/2 cup of fresh, finely chopped fennel bulb either by itself or added to soups or salads with your meal.
Fennel is considered very safe, even during pregnancy, when used in normal culinary amounts. Large medicinal doses may interfere slightly with blood thinning medications, so check with your doctor if you take these.
Gingerroot contains anti-inflammatory and analgesic compounds called gingerols that work to relieve gastrointestinal issues like indigestion and motion sickness. Some research indicates ginger reduces nausea and improves stomach emptying in people with indigestion.
Fresh ginger works best. Try these ginger remedies for indigestion:
- Grate or finely mince 1/2 tsp fresh ginger and add to hot tea or broth. Let steep 5 minutes before drinking.
- Cut a 1/2 inch piece of gingerroot and chew on it slowly throughout the day.
- Drink ginger ale or ginger beer in moderation for its ginger root compounds. Avoid heavily sweetened varieties.
You can also find ginger capsules or tinctures if you don't like the taste. Take 1 gram of fresh ginger or 500 mg of a ginger supplement 1-3 times daily between meals for indigestion relief.
7. Apple Cider Vinegar
Apple cider vinegar is a popular folk remedy for digestive issues that some people find soothing for indigestion. Thought to date back to Hippocrates himself, apple cider vinegar may relieve indigestion in a few ways:
- Acetic acid content improves stomach emptying and may reduce excess acid production.
- Probiotics from the fermentation support healthy gut flora balance.
- Potassium assists with regulating gastric fluid levels.
To use ACV for indigestion, mix 1-2 tsp of unfiltered apple cider vinegar in 8 oz of water and drink 15 minutes before eating a meal. Always dilute ACV in water, as taking it undiluted can damage tooth enamel over time.
Start slowly as the sour taste takes some getting used to. Apple cider vinegar is generally considered safe in moderation. Discontinue use if it aggravates your indigestion.
8. Aloe Vera
The inner gel from aloe vera leaves contains powerful anti-inflammatory compounds that may soothe irritated digestive tissues. Aloe helps heal and protect the lining of the stomach and reduce acid levels. It also contains anthraquinones that promote normal bowel function.
For indigestion, try aloe vera gel in these methods:
- Drink 1-2 tbsp of pure, cold-processed aloe vera gel before meals.
- Apply the gel topically to the stomach area for localized relief.
- Look for aloe capsules containing 100% pure inner leaf gel for easier dosing.
Aloe vera has a very good safety profile but large amounts may cause diarrhea or cramping in some people. Always purchase a high-quality brand and introduce it gradually into your routine.
9. Elevate Your Upper Body
Simple positional changes can ease indigestion discomfort by lessening abdominal pressure. After large meals, or when indigestion strikes, lie on your left side with a pillow under your torso.
This helps gravity allow food and gastric juices to drain from your stomach into the intestines more comfortably. Avoid lying flat on your back which increases pressure.
10. Take a Warm Bath or Apply a Warm Compress
Warm hydrotherapy delivers a relaxing sensation that may settle indigestion by boosting circulation and relaxing abdominal muscles. Try a warm bath soaking for 20 minutes when indigestion flares up.
You can also place a warm, damp washcloth over your stomach for 10-15 minutes. This classic folk remedy helps regulate digestion naturally without drugs or chemicals.
In summary, mild indigestion can often be relieved at home with natural remedies, dietary adjustments, and lifestyle changes. See your doctor if symptoms persist more than a few weeks or are accompanied by vomiting, bleeding, or significant weight loss.
With patience and experimenting to find what works best for your individual needs, you can gain relief from uncomfortable indigestion naturally.