If you’ve ever walked into a natural food store or supplement store in search of a natural antacid, you may have been recommended a confusing array of supplements and enzymes and wondered if any of them will actually relieve heartburn. And if they do – why aren’t they simply called “Antacids”? Also, are they actually more natural than the options you can typically find in supermarkets and drug stores?
We did a little research for you, and found that remedies for indigestion and heartburn typically fall into five different categories:
1) Natural antacids with Calcium Carbonate
There are quite a few of these around, even in natural food stores. Calcium carbonate is essentially limestone, and may not be good for our bodies, because it can’t be absorbed by the body to any meaningful extent. There are also concerns that calcium carbonate may contribute to arterial plaque and therefore heart disease. Read more about calcium carbonate here. While technically a “natural antacid”, there might be good reason to avoid these.
2) Natural antacids with other forms of calcium, magnesium
Calcium citrate is a better choice than calcium carbonate, because our bodies are better able to absorb this form of the mineral. Combining calcium citrate with magnesium citrate further increases the overall absorption of these minerals, so this might be a good choice. Brainard’s Natural Remedies contains primarily blueberry fiber and fruit extracts, but also calcium citrate and magnesium citrate. Overall, it provides quick and natural relief and is a more natural antacid. You can read more about Brainard’s more natural antacid here.
Enzymes have become the “next big thing” in the supplement isles of natural food stores recently. Enzymes are found naturally in our bodies, and help break down the food we eat. If your body is deficient in an enzyme, adding an enzyme supplement to your diet might help with digestion. But what if your heartburn or indigestion has nothing to do with lacking an enzyme? And where do you start? There are enzymes that break down proteins, fats and carbohydrates. Do you take them all? Buy a popular blend? This can feel overwhelming, and probably also be a hit and miss for many people. Are enzymes a natural antacid? Not really, but they may help people whose bodies are lacking certain enzymes. But they most likely won’t help you if the cause of your heartburn is something else.
4) Probiotics, “live bacteria”
Like enzymes, probiotic bacteria are also found naturally in the body, in the digestive tract to be more specific. However, taking antibiotics, making poor food choices, or even stress can harm your natural flora of gut bacteria. Adding a viable probiotic strain to your diet may be helpful in restoring this bacteria balance. However, you have to pick a strain that survives its passage through to your gut and doesn’t get killed by stomach acids. You also need to take it in sufficient quantities, and the product or supplement you take must really contain the amount of probiotics it claims to contain. Recently there have been some cases where foods or supplements did not contain as many live bacteria as were claimed on the package. However, taking a good probiotic supplement or fortified food product can definitely be helpful for people whose bacterial flora is out of balance. But does it help most people who suffer from heartburn or indigestion? That seems less certain. Is it a natural antacid? Probably not, but that doesn’t mean it’s not worth a try. In addition, probiotics are claimed to help make you “regular”, and they may even help strengthen your immune system.
5) DLG or Deglycerized licorice
DLG is made from the root of the licorice plant, which has been used for a variety of conditions in traditional herbal medicine. DLG is said to have a soothing effect on ulcers, among a range of other uses, and may also help people with indigestion or heartburn. There are reasons to be cautions with DLG, and licorice root, however. People with allergies to plants in the pea or legume family may experience dangerous allergic reactions. Women who are pregnant, and people with a history of diabetes, edema, high blood pressure, or heart, kidney or liver disease, and people who are taking diuretics, are also told to avoid DLG. In addition, people taking certain medicines may need to avoid DLG, because of possible drug interactions. Please research carefully and speak with your doctor. In addition, you may want to be cautious with DLG and avoid using it for extended periods. In summary, DLG may certainly help some people with indigestion or heartburn, but it’s not for everyone and should be approached with care. And while it may have a beneficial effect on indigestion and heartburn, it’s probably not a natural antacid in the way we would typically think about it.
Summary – Natural Antacids
No matter what you choose to try, please take the time to carefully research pros and cons, and how well it may work for your specific situation. Make sure that it is safe for you to use a specific supplement, given your health situation and any other medicines you may be taking. Talk to your doctor. And be especially careful with anything you plan to keep using over an extended period of time.
We and many others really like Brainard’s Blueberry Antacid, with its proprietary blend of blueberry fiber and fruit extracts, combined with calcium citrate and magnesium citrate, which absorb better in the body than the traditional calcium carbonate. It truly is a more natural antacid.