Acid reflux can affect anyone, from infants to adults. Although you can find helpful over-the-counter treatments, pickle juice for acid reflux relief might not provide the reprieve you need. Instead, you should consult your doctor to discuss how best to manage your acid reflux.
What is Acid Reflux?
If you experience acid reflux, you could have a chronic condition referred to as gastroesophageal reflux (GER). Because of the pain, you might be willing to try any treatment (even a folk remedy) to help you manage the discomfort.
According to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK), GER occurs when your stomach contents come back into your esophagus, leading to heartburn or acid ingestion. If your GER lasts more than twice a week for three or more weeks, you could have gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), a more serious form of GER. This can affect up to approximately 20 percent of this country's population.
Common causes of GERD include the following:
- High Body Mass Index (BMI)
- Being a smoker
Depending on the severity of GERD, you might breathe stomach acid all the way into your lungs, which could cause respiratory issues such as asthma, laryngitis, pneumonia, chest congestion and wheezing.
To properly treat GERD, you should seek the help of a medical professional. In an August 2014 study from the World of Gastrointestinal Pharmacology and Therapeutics, this chronic disease required long-term care management and could include a combination of the following:
- Potential surgical therapy if the issues persists and creates a poor quality of life
- Medical therapy
- Lifestyle changes, such as:
A March 2018 Harvard Health Publishing article also suggests deploying other specific self-help behaviors such as the following:
- Not lying down for at least two to three hours after a meal
- Eating smaller meals to avoid overworking the digestive system when you eat heavy amounts of food
- Sticking to a diet with less spicy and acidic foods
- Using antacids and medications such as ranitidine and famotidine, otherwise known as H2 blockers
Internet searchers for acid reflux home remedies might lead you to believe that taking a tablespoon of pickle juice for heartburn relief can work. But according to a September 2018 research article from the Cleveland Clinic, the probiotic bacteria in pickle juice is usually removed during fermentation and processing, thus rendering any health benefits for acid reflux insignificant.
The Cleveland Clinic also suggests that the vinegar, not the pickle juice itself, is what people swear works for acid reflex. But the vinegar's strong aroma and taste might overpower the acid reflux to the point you don't notice your heartburn — drinking the vinegar doesn't actually solve the underlying acid reflux health issue. Plus, some people say the vinegar makes their heartburn even worse.
Harvard Health Publishing also states that no data supports vinegar as an effective method or safety of use for heartburn. Rather, you should use over-the-counter medications called proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) that reduce acid in the stomach. PPIs include lansoprazole (Prevacid 24 HR), omeprazole (Prilosec) and esomeprazole (Nexium).
Harvard warns that you should only take these medications for a month, as long-term use can cause health defects that include infections, a reduction in how well you absorb nutrients and osteoporosis.
If you still experience acid reflux after a month on PPIs, you should consult with your doctor right away. This can also be a sign of other serious health illnesses.
- National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases: “Definition & Facts for GER & GERD”
- World of Gastrointestinal Pharmacology and Therapeutics: “Diagnosis and Treatment of Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease”
- Cleveland Clinic: “Can Drinking Pickle Juice Help Your Acid Reflux Symptoms?”
- Harvard Health Publishing: "Apple Cider Vinegar… For Heartburn?"