Heartburn: Can alkaline mineral water help?

Many people regularly suffer from heartburn, and look for relief in medications. A recent study checked if mineral water containing bicarbonate can also improve symptoms.

The effects of alkaline mineral water on heartburn

Mineral water as a heartburn treatment?

Almost everyone suffers from heartburn in the course of their lives - whether due to eating too much food over the holidays, during pregnancy, or due to chronic illnesses. Quite a few of us may rely on medication for quick or extended relief. But there are other ways to get rid of the painful burning sensation.

A recent study investigated whether alkaline mineral water can provide relief. Heartburn is often caused by an overproduction of acid, or mechanical events that force the acid into the oesophagus. An alkaline solution is a good therapeutic option to regulate the excess acid. The effect of alkaline mineral water was therefore the focus in this new study.

What can this "special" mineral water do?

To look into the argued curative ability of this mineral water, 148 people with heartburn drank 1.5 litres of mineral water containing bicarbonate or a placebo - i.e. normal mineral water - every day for six weeks. The allocation was randomised.

The result: those who consumed the alkaline drink experienced a statistically significant improvement in heartburn compared to their counterparts in the placebo group. The quality of life of the bicarbonate drinkers also increased noticeably.

In addition, people in the verum group were able to significantly reduce the number of anti-acid tablets they took. Subjects in the placebo arm were unable to achieve any change here.

The therapy with the mineral water was - unsurprisingly - very well tolerated for the most part.

Conclusion for medical practice

The consumption of mineral water containing bicarbonate appears to have a positive effect on heartburn symptoms. In the mentioned study, the results were statistically significant and the mineral water was able to achieve a clear improvement in symptoms. It may therefore make sense to recommend alkaline water as the first treatment option. However, it should be noted that the results of the study were based on a daily consumption of 1.5 litres. Some people may find it difficult to consume this amount.

Sources
  1. Labenz J, Ansch├╝tz M, Walstab J, Wedemeyer RS, Wolters H, Schug B. Heartburn relief with bicarbonate-rich mineral water: results of the randomised, placebo-controlled phase-III trial STOMACH STILL. BMJ Open Gastroenterol. 2023 Feb;10(1):e001048. doi: 10.1136/bmjgast-2022-001048. PMID: 36849190; PMCID: PMC9972411.