Walk into your health food store, and chances are you'll find a number of herbs reputed to fight heartburn. Herb researcher Daniel B. Mowrey, Ph.D., studied the evidence thoroughly and concluded that some herbal remedies do relieve and prevent heartburn.
• Ginger. This, says Dr. Mowrey, is the most helpful. "I've seen it work often enough that I'm convinced," he says. "We're not sure how it works, but it seems to absorb the acid and have the secondary effect of calming the nerves." Take it in capsule form just after you eat. Start with two capsules and increase the dosage as needed. You know you've taken enough, says Dr. Mowrey, when you start to taste ginger in your throat.
• Bitters. A class of herbs called bitters, used for many years in parts of Europe, is also helpful, Dr. Mowrey says. Examples of common bitters are gentian root and goldenseal. "I can vouch that they work," he says. Bitters can be taken in capsule form or as a liquid extract, just before you eat.
• Aromatics. The aromatic herbs, such as catnip and fennel, are also reputed to be good for heartburn, but the research on these is sporadic, says Dr. Mowrey.