Chewing Gum for Heartburn
Chewing gum for heartburn is an effective home remedy. It might sound farfetched but it works. Scientific studies show that chewing sugar-free gum for 30 minutes after a meal can wash refluxed stomach acid back into the stomach and reduce stomach acid levels.1,2
How Does Gum Relieve Heartburn?
Chewing gum for heartburn relief works in 4 ways:
1) Acid Rinse: Chewing gum increases saliva production. When swallowed, the excess saliva washes refluxed acid back down the esophagus to the stomach where it belongs.1
2) Acid Reducer: Chewing gum increases saliva production. Saliva contains bicarbonate, which is the same component of baking soda that works as an antacid.2
3) Digestive Aid: Digestive enzymes are in saliva. Digestive enzymes aid in digestion by helping break down food into nutrients our bodies can absorb. Proper digestion reduces chances of acid reflux and heartburn.
4) Stress Reducer: Stress increases the sensitivity of pain receptors. If you are stressed, the pain from heartburn will be greater. Chewing gum mimics eating and has been shown to reduce stress, anxiety and cortisol levels.3
Other Benefits of Chewing Gum for Heartburn
- Acid reflux can cause bad breath and a bitter or sour taste as acids back up into the esophagus. Chewing gum will freshen breath.
- The backing up of stomach acid during acid reflux can cause tooth erosion. As mentioned earlier, chewing gum for heartburn will help neutralize acids and wash acid back down into the stomach.
- Chewing sugar-free gum can help clean teeth and reduce cavities.
- Chewing gum is an inexpensive heartburn remedy.
- Being overstuffed can cause acid reflux. Some remedies add to stomach volume causing acid reflux issues to increase. Chewing gum does not add a significant volume to the stomach.
What Gum Works Best for Heartburn Relief?
- Chewing sugar-free gum with the natural sweetener xylitol can help reduce bacteria that cause cavities.
- Gum with baking soda will provide an even greater antacid relief than the bicarbonate in saliva alone.
- Mint is a heartburn trigger that can relax the lower esophageal sphincter (LES) allowing stomach acid to reflux into the esophagus. It’s best to avoid mint, peppermint, and spearmint gum. Cinnamon and fruit flavors are best. Cinnamon has the added benefit of aiding digestion by stimulating enzymes to break down food.
- Nicotine gum will relax the LES too and should be avoided.
Between Dental Gum covers all of these factors. It can be found in cinnamon flavor and contains both baking soda and xylitol.
Negatives of Chewing Gum for Heartburn
- If you have irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), artificial sweeteners in gum may cause you issues.
- Chewing gum could cause you to swallow excess air. Excess air in the stomach increases pressure on the LES. When too much pressure is placed on this muscular valve, acids can reflux through into the esophagus.
- Temporomandibular joint (TMJ) is the joint connecting the lower jaw (mandible) and skull along with its muscles. Temporomandibular joint disorder (TMD) causes discomfort and compromised movement of the temporomandibular joint. Those with TMD may not be able to chew gum without irritating this disorder.
If you experience chronic heartburn, you should seek the advice of your doctor to determine the cause of your heartburn and treatment options. Chronic heartburn can lead to increased health issues.
- medwireNews “Gastroenterology: Chewing gum reduces acid reflux”
- National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine “The effect of chewing sugar-free gum on gastro-esophageal reflux.”
- National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine “Chewing gum alleviates negative mood and reduces cortisol during acute laboratory psychological stress.”