Heartburn, caused by digestive fluids splashing into the throat, can feel like a three-alarm fire in your chest. Sometimes heartburn can signal the onset of gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD); other times it's an isolated but uncomfortable incident. If heartburn is frequent or accompanied by chest pain, consult a doctor for diagnosis. To relieve normal, uncomplicated heartburn, you may not have to go further than your refrigerator to find a safe, inexpensive and popular remedy.
Heartburn is a symptom of acid reflux, but not everyone with heartburn actually has acid reflux, and many people with acid reflux don't suffer from heartburn. The classic symptom of heartburn is a burning sensation behind the breastbone that occurs after eating. Other symptoms include burning in the throat, a feeling that food is stuck in the throat, chest pains, a sour taste and difficulty swallowing. The three main culprits that cause heartburn are fatty foods, which make stomach fluids more acidic; overeating, which distends the stomach and makes it press on the esophageal muscle; and eating right before bedtime. Foods and beverages that trigger heartburn in many people include alcohol, spicy foods, citrus and coffee. However, everyone reacts differently; there is no need to avoid a food unless you suffer from heartburn after eating it.
Apples have specific qualities that could make them effective in relieving reflux symptoms; they are alkaline-forming but also acidic, which means they trigger your mouth to produce more saliva. Saliva is alkaline, which is why anything that stimulates swallowing saliva, such as the act of chewing gum, helps inhibit acid formation in the stomach and is beneficial to heartburn. Apples also contain trace minerals, which may help reduce heartburn. According to EarthClinic.com, many people have found dramatic relief from heartburn by eating apples. To try this remedy, simply eat an apple after your evening meal; red delicious, golden delicious and Granny Smith apples are some of the varieties that have been tried, according to EarthClinic.com. An alternate approach is to take a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar with a glass of water at every meal; for a sweetening and soothing effect, you can add a teaspoon of raw honey.
Apple cider vinegar became known as a remedy for various ills in the late 1950s, when it was promoted by the best-selling book "Folk Medicine: A Vermont Doctor's Guide to Good Health" by D.C. Jarvis. According to Health Central nutritionist Jennifer Rackley, the apple cure, although not medically proven, may produce a "placebo" effect, in which the psychological effect of using a remedy brings about physical benefit.
Whether they cure acid reflex or not, apples are a healthy, natural snack--this is a home cure that certainly can't hurt.
Over time, acid reflux can have serious complications, including narrowing of the esophagus, esophageal ulcers and a precancerous condition called Barrett's esophagus. See your doctor for diagnosis and treatment of frequent heartburn. Also, although apples are undeniably good for you, their seeds are not; apple seeds are toxic in large quantities and should not be consumed. Also, apple cider vinegar has the potential to damage both tooth enamel and esophageal tissue due to its acidity.