Heartburn is a common source of discomfort in our modern lifestyle. The burning sensation is caused by acid from the stomach coming up through the lower esophageal sphincter and injuring the esophagus. It can be confused with acid indigestion, a more serious condition in which the stomach or intestine is injured by excess acid. Acid indigestion can lead to very serious conditions.
One of the potential causes of heartburn is excess acid from acidic foods. If, for instance, a glass of orange juice often precedes your heartburn, this can be the cause. You will need to counter it with an antacid. However, many heartburn sufferers swear by vinegar, especially apple cider vinegar as a remedy for heartburn. But vinegar is acidic – so how can one get relief by using vinegar for heartburn?
Too Little Acid
The lower esophageal sphincter (LES) forms the entrance to the stomach. Above it is the esophagus which serves only to transport food from the mouth to the LES. Once past the sphincter, acid begins breaking down the food. The muscles of the LES serve to open and close the entry to the acidic region. When food is swallowed, the LES opens. When no food is present in the esophagus, the LES stays closed.
The closed LES causes a pressure difference between the esophagus and stomach with higher pressure in the esophagus. If the muscles relax too much, the pressure equalizes and acid can enter the esophagus much more easily. A change in position, for instance, can cause a reflux of acid with the resulting heartburn. The pain from acid can make taking acidic vinegar as a heartburn treatment seem silly.
One of the things that trigger the LES to close tightly is acid. When acid is detected, the muscles pull tight to stay closed. If your stomach does not create enough acid or if you have eaten food that is very alkaline or just too low in acid, the muscles may relax. If that is the cause of your pain, the answer can be to drink a bit of vinegar for heartburn. A couple of tablespoons in a glass of water are enough.
Of course, drinking water alone can also help keep stomach acid where it belongs. Try some plain water first – you may not need vinegar for heartburn. Until you are sure that it works for you, you might want to take care in introducing acid to help cure an acid problem. Once you are sure it works, however, you can feel good about a daily dose of vinegar for heartburn if that’s what you want.