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Manage Heartburn Without Drugs

Manage Heartburn Without Drugs

Q: I have been taking Prilosec OTC for my heartburn and acid reflux for a while now, but I’d like to get off of the medication. Is there a better way to manage my symptoms?

A: Any antacid can help neutralize stomach acid. When buying an antacid, look on the label for the amount of calcium or magnesium in the product. If you have a problem with constipation, choose a brand that lists magnesium first on the label. If diarrhea is a problem, choose one with calcium listed first.

If you want to avoid medications completely, try to eat small amounts of food throughout the day rather than a few larger meals. If you are a smoker, stop, and limit the amount of caffeine in your diet.

If you are having heartburn symptoms, you can control them by having a light snack to help absorb some of the excess stomach acid. Bland foods like bananas or graham crackers are good choices. Apple juice is also an excellent choice. Avoid orange juice or other acidic beverages.

Dr. Brent Ridge is the health expert for Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia. You can call and ask him a question live every Tuesday at 2 p.m. Eastern on Sirius Satellite Radio, Channel 112 (1.866.675.6675). You can also follow along as he learns to grow his own food and raise goats on his farm in upstate New York by visiting

Got a health question for Dr. Brent? E-mail him at

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Dr. Brent

As an undergraduate, Dr. Brent Ridge majored in public health and environmental science, studying the way the state of the natural environment impacts our health choices. As a physician, he specializes in the field of aging. Send your health questions to Dr. Brent at


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3:48AM PST on Feb 6, 2015

Hmm that’s wonderful; I am a great fan of your website. This is 100% perfect blog.
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6:39AM PST on Dec 26, 2012

I drink a glass of water with a few tablespoons of apple cider vinegar to get rid of heartburn.

4:38PM PST on Dec 25, 2012

ah, i remember the bland food diet. uck.

9:09PM PST on Nov 20, 2012


7:55PM PST on Nov 17, 2012

Dumb article. Doesn't talk about digestive enzymes, DGL, or anything else helpful. Article states the obvious. Bananas give me heartburn. Graham crackers are not healthy.......come on, people, you can do better than this lame info.

3:20PM PST on Nov 17, 2012

Of course, easier said than done. Important to remember that with PPI's like Prilosec, or prescription strength such as Dexilant, they are recommended for 14 days, not long term. Long term use blocks calcium and iron and results in anemia and osteoporosis, among other dangerous conditions. Many take these daily without ever hearing of these complications from their doctors.

6:05PM PST on Nov 16, 2012

i hate most doctors...they don't tell you what you should know, but you should be checked out for gerd and then do your own research. i have barrett's esophagus and have to have an upper endoscopy every's the only way you know if it becomes's a very agressive cancer. if caught early on it can be operated on. my stomach also had moved up almost entirely above my diaphram...a hyatal hernia which needed to be corrected through an operation. i don't like taking prilosec...double strength, but i'm afraid not to. it prevents acid from forming and acid is necessary to digest food and help assimilate nutrients. i have another condition that prevents my food from passing into my intestines as quickly as it should.

i have also used some of the things mentioned in the comments in addition to what the gastrointestinal doctor has said. it is serious, so don't let the doctor just prescribe. educate yourself and insist on getting all the answers you need!

3:44PM PDT on Mar 24, 2011

good for you jackie.
the old age came to my house.....besides my
tummy problems,dentist wants to pull all my
teeth.bone loss...possible due to lifetime of
tummy issues.

5:58PM PDT on Mar 25, 2010

This was interesting. I live with heartburn. Thanks.

10:10AM PST on Jan 13, 2010

i'll share this with my dad.. he's on meds for his heartburn..i know they can't be good for him

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Maybe the points will catch up, if I let the stupid pop-up play. I'm letting the bleeping thing run…

Great article - I am an arthritis sufferer and have learned from this post!


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