Chew Gum To Kill Heartburn?

Sick of paying for heartburn meds at the drugstore? The New York Times says you might be able to find a cheaper remedy for the ‘burn by picking up some chewing gum at the checkout counter.

Writes the Times:

Chewing on a piece or two of gum, it seems, helps force fluids back into the stomach and flood the esophagus with alkaline saliva, neutralizing acids that cause the characteristic burning sensations.

The pieces cites a pair of studies: One in which participants fasted before eating a meal intended to cause acid reflux. Some were then chosen to chew sugar-free gum for 30 minutes. The study found that acid levels were significantly lower in the two hours following the meal when the participants chewed gum.

The other study looked at people who had been diagnosed with GERD and those with normal stomach behavior. The study found that chewing sugarless gum for an hour after a large breakfast reduced acid reflux in both groups for up to three hours, particularly in the heartburn group.

Remedies: Chewing Gum for Heartburn [NYT]


Edit Your Comment

  1. McRib wants to know if you've been saved by the Holy Clown says:

    I like baking soda for that.

  2. Vanilla5 says:

    I’ve had stomach issues since I was a child – this is the first thing my mom told me to do. Chew minty gum or have a peppermint.

    • Dollie says:

      My grandpa always said the same thing and always had both in a pocket it seems.

      And it’s always worked.

    • Mamudoon says:

      Yeah, it’s probably the peppermint in the gum. I have a lot of nausea due to GI conditions, and peppermint oil capsules work better than any OTC or prescription anti-emetics I’ve ever been on. And it gives you minty fresh breath! I love them.

    • Platypi {Redacted} says:

      Agreed. I always have sugar free peppermint gum on hand. I find peppermint tends to settle my stomach like little else can.

    • 3rdUserName says:

      Interesting, my doctor tells me to stay away from mint as it could make my acid reflex flair up..

      • tooluser says:

        Correct. Mint can settle your stomach, but it can also make your upper stomach sphincter relax, which can exacerbate the problem.

        There’s nothing wrong with Tums-like chewable tablets (calcium carbonate). You even get some extra calcium that way.

  3. Eyebrows McGee (now with double the baby!) says:

    I definitely notice this helps with my pregnancy heartburn. I only break out the tums when it’s dire.

  4. aloria says:

    That’s not going to help the fact that I get acid reflux and heartburn at bedtime and while I am sleeping, leaving me with a completely incinerated throat come morning. Unfortunately I’m stuck paying out the butt for crazy expensive hearburn meds.

    • Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

      I assume you tried more homeopathic remedies first? As just a single example, sleeping upright. There is also surgery for long-term issues, but doctors will have you go through all the steps before that.

      • GuyGuidoEyesSteveDaveâ„¢ says:

        Homeopathic? Like drinking water?

        • dolemite says:

          Drinking water always worsens my acid reflux. It’s like the water gushes down and displaces the acid into my throat.

        • Christopher Jablonski says:

          No, like drinking something diluted WITH water, thousands or millions of times, until what’s left is extremely unlikely to hold any of the substance’s original atoms.

          Psh! Water.

      • Cantras says:

        I think in this case we’re meaning “homeopathic” as in “home remedy” instead of “stupid” — note the mentioning of sleeping upright.

        There needs to be another word or something. Or just some better defined words.

    • MaliBoo Radley says:

      Have you tried an elimination diet? It’s something you’d do with your doctor. You completely remove acid and inflammation stimulating food from your diet for 4 weeks. Then, you add them back, one by one, in an attempt to find which one could have been causing your issues.

      I did the diet, and found out that wheat and dairy were causing my IBS. Now, I have no issues. Much better than meds. Diet isn’t good for everything, but it’s great for digestive tract issues.

      • theycallmeGinger says:

        I went on an elimination diet for other reasons, though heartburn was becoming a problem as well. I never seemed to get heartburn directly from food (as in, I got it regardless of when or what I ate, and it was the worst in the middle of the night), but it all went away completely after about 3-4 weeks of being on the diet. It’s really important to be strict.

        So yes, I agree — as hard as it was, I recommend going on this diet. Also consider getting tested for food allergies. Takes out some of the guess work.

    • Megladon says:

      My wife was paying over 30$ a month for likely the same pills as you, she found out from her dr that she can get a prescription and now its pennys a day for her meds and alot less heartburn.

    • HungryGal says:

      I’ve tried many expensive heartburn meds and have now happily settled in with Zantac 150. Generic. $3 a bottle (a months worth) at Target or Walmart.

      As my symptoms usually flared up before my period, I did some research on supplements to reduce PMS and started taking a Super B Complex and a Calcium/Magnesium pill (with bonus Zinc and Vitamin D). I can honestly say that they DO help a lot with my PMS symptoms, particularly bloating and heartburn.

      I’ve also, as I’ve gotten older and wiser, been a bit better about avoiding foods that cause flare ups for me (like tomato sauce.) You also have to ‘keep regular’ if you expect the new food you put in your stomach to move along rather than try to come back up.

    • Pax says:

      I too have GERD and EERD.

      Can you sleep with your upper body elevated?

      Can you eat earlier, so your stomach is less full when you go to sleep?

      Another method is to reduce your total caffeine intake; caffeine stimulates your stomach to produce acid. Maybe switch to decaf for that last cup of coffee for the evening?

  5. suburbancowboy says:

    Are there any gums out there now that don’t have (possibly carcinogenic) artificial sweeteners in them? Even the gums with sugar in them like Juicy Fruit and Big Red now have artificial sweeteners. Most gums have a combo of artificial sweeteners, all of which, I refuse to consume.

    I used to get natural chicle gum from Trader Joe’s, but that stuff loses its flavor after like 15 seconds.

  6. Alvis says:

    This seems like an expensive treatment.

    I take ranitidine, which costs about $4 for a two months’ supply.

    • dolemite says:

      I took that, but it really didn’t seem very effective for me. I was taking one of those after each meal then chewing a few antacids before bed, and always had miserable reflux. Then I started taking Prilosec and my reflux is all but gone (I can still flare it up with a really spicey big meal).

      • Alvis says:

        It won’t do shit AFTER you’ve eaten. You have to take it regularly, every 12 hours, like clockwork. And SO much cheaper than prilosec.

        • HungryGal says:

          I love Zantac. I’ve been on everything (I was born with some fairly screwed up digestive organs) including Prilosec and Protonix (and some nasty IBS drugs), and have determined that 2 Zantac 150s a day do the trick better than anything.

          (I buy generic, of course. From Walmart or Target when possible- they’re like 1/3 the price of CVS!)

          • stint7 says:

            Zantac (or any generic rantidine) is the one medicine that works the best for me. I too have to take 2 150s a day but luckily they are cheap. I have tried every method under the sun but nothing works as well as those.

    • HogwartsProfessor says:

      They tried to give me that and it made me sick. I just got a hiatal hernia diagnosis and the gastroenterologist who did the endoscopy wrote another prescription for it. Nuts!

      I called my doctor’s office and said “I DON’T THINK SO.” I’m waiting for them to call me back, since they didn’t have the report yet at the time. Not sure what to do about this yet.

  7. selianth says:

    This doesn’t help those of us who can’t chew gum due to jaw issues.

    • Mamudoon says:

      It’s most likely the peppermint that’s helping the heartburn and nausea (though peppermint can make heartburn worse in some people, so it’s trial and error), so if you can’t or don’t want to chew gum, try peppermint candies or peppermint oil capsules.

  8. kerry says:

    Chewing gum always made my acid reflux worse, due to the excess air swallowed during chewing. Peppermint is also wicked bad for acid reflux, I used to chew altoids until I discovered they were contributing to my chronic stomach pain.
    Ginger candy and pickled ginger both help me with heartburn, not sure if that’s common to everybody.

    • GuyGuidoEyesSteveDaveâ„¢ says:

      Maybe I’m doing it wrong, but how are you swallowing air when you chew gum?

      • kerry says:

        You’re constantly folding air into the gum and, as a byproduct, into your saliva. You then swallow saliva full of tiny air bubbles and, after some time of chewing, you get a stomach full of air. It’s not like a big, uncomfortable bloating situation, but it’s enough to make heartburn worse.
        Also, when I chew gum it must encourage my stomach to produce acid, because it can create heartburn out of nothing.

        • GuyGuidoEyesSteveDaveâ„¢ says:

          Wouldn’t the bubbles not make it down to your stomach because they would rise to the top as peristalsis takes place? I also wonder how much air is in gum, because usually if I spit it into water, it sinks.

    • FerretGirl says:

      Same with me. I think that I’m swallowing air with the excess saliva the gum creates. I’ve got bad acid reflux because I have a hiatal hernia and a malformed throat. Perhaps your throat is a little wonky too and it’s tough for the two of us to swallow anything without swallowing air as well. I was actually coming to the comments to post that chewing gum can make some acid reflux sufferers feel worse. Glad I’m not the only one!

  9. MaliBoo Radley says:

    Have any of you tried an elimination diet? It’s something you’d do with your doctor. You completely remove acid and inflammation stimulating food from your diet for 4 weeks. Then, you add them back, one by one, in an attempt to find which one could have been causing your issues.

    I did the diet, and found out that wheat and dairy were causing my IBS. Now, I have no issues. Much better than meds. Diet isn’t good for everything, but it’s great for digestive tract issues.

    At the very least, it’s worth asking a doctor about it. A nice alternative to meds.

    • Alvis says:

      Really? A couple months of crazy eating sounds awful. I’ll just pop my pills.

      • MaliBoo Radley says:

        Yeah, I can see how a lifetime of medication would would be more appealing than only 4 weeks of sacrifice.

        How odd.

        • Alvis says:

          You said four weeks of removing all the good stuff, and then adding stuff back one-at-a-time. Unless your palate is very restricted, that’s going to take a while to test everything.

          I have to brush my teeth everyday for the rest of my life, too; is swallowing a pill after rinsing that bad?

          Even if you can find the food that’s causing the problem, what if it’s something you like? Rather than avoid it for the rest of your life, man up and treat your body’s reaction to it.

          • MaliBoo Radley says:

            That’s so incredibly asinine that I can only assume you’re trolling.

            I’m done.

            • Alvis says:

              Does that mean I won the discussion?

              I’m baffled by your approach to treatment. If you found out that a constant skin irritation was caused by exposure to sunlight, would you choose staying indoors for the rest of your life over taking a simple medication?

              • MaliBoo Radley says:

                No, it means you’re irrational.

                I found that eating wheat gives me bloating, cramps and diarrhea. I can either not eat wheat, or I can do as you say and take pills for the cramps and diarrhea. Given those options, I think I’ll just stop eating wheat. I can’t imagine a person who’d rather fill their body with medication, that makes small adjustments to their diet.

                • Qantaqa says:

                  For the most part, I agree about not taking more medication, but I do understand where Alvis is coming from. Maybe eating and food don’t really interest you and the transition was easy, but what about people who love to cook? Or who really look forward to a nice dinner date? Food is also important culturally to a lot of people and it may be exceedingly difficult to change a diet that can also be solved by medication. I’m impressed that you cut out wheat products, though; that must have been really tough.

                  • MaliBoo Radley says:

                    I couldn’t be more of a foodie. And yes, it was hard, at first. I just had to learn to cook more creatively. Even though I still eat meat, I looked into a lot of vegan recipes, as they tend to be wheat free. I also got in to indian cooking, as rice and lentils have become part of my diet. It’s actually become fun .. finding ways to replace things, trying to duplicate flavors that I can’t have anymore.

                    I will say this .. I’m glad In-N-Out makes a bunless burger :)

            • Big Mama Pain says:

              I don’t get it; for once, Alvis has a point. I am mildly allergic to certain fruits and nuts but I pop a pill in order to not have to eliminate them from my diet because they taste good. I get acid reflux by just LOOKING at bourbon, and you probably couldn’t even pry that out of my cold dead hands. Most of us know what flares it up. You had IBS because of a sensitivity to certain foods and decided that the elimination diet worked well for you, but most of us treat our acid reflux like a mildly annoying thing that has a zillion quick remedies that actually work-like taking a pill! I didn’t see that as retarded or trolling.

              • MaliBoo Radley says:

                I guess the idea that people would rather take medicine that do something simple like changing their diet .. it just seems so illogical to me.

                I just figure that most people are trying to take less meds, not more.

    • quirkyrachel says:

      +1, speaking as someone who’s sensitive to wheat (and the sensitivity was never caught by medical professionals)

    • 3rdUserName says:

      I did and found mine.. The worst thing for me is acidic foods, specifically tomatoes and citrus..

      Being a fitness guy my diet is restricted enough, I’m not giving up tomatoes or citrus on top of eating really clean.. I’ll be on Nexium or the like until I die..

    • phallusu says:

      definitely makes sense but we are marketed to ‘just take a pill’ instead of responsibility …

  10. quirkyrachel says:

    Or you could, you know, figure out what’s making your stomach upset and change your eating habits. Just sayin’….

    • Garbanzo says:

      What’s your advice for people whose reflux is due to pregnancy, hernia, or defective esophogeal sphincter?

      • pz says:

        By quirkyrachel’s logic, those people would, through the process of elimination, find out that it was food itself causing the problem and then stop eating.


  11. Cosmo_Kramer says:

    How is this any different from the articles where you criticize food makers who claim health benefits of their foods? They have studies that prove their claims, but you still criticize them. You’re doing the same thing here.

  12. Maglet says:

    I would chew gum, but most of it now (the ones at checkouts anyway) have that horrible phenylalanine (like aspartame) in it. That stuff gives me wicked headaches. I’d rather just endure the heartburn. Big Red used to be my fave…

  13. scorpionamongus says:

    Atomic Fireballs are really good for this as well.

  14. shthar says:

    I bit my tongue!

  15. Bix says:

    Lose your heartburn, get terrible TMJ in exchange…

  16. jerrycomo says:

    I chew gum b/c I have a fear of bad breath aka halitophobia.

  17. biggieshorty says:

    I’ve started to eat a few almonds (raw or blanched) when I get heart burn. It’s worked every time so far. I read that their high oil content neutralizes stomach acids. Not sure if that’s true or not, but it has worked for me. I also read that eating some raw apple does the trick, as well.

  18. db says:

    chew a couple gaviscon tablets before bedtime… it creates a foam barrier and helps with morning heartburn.