Can Probiotics Make Heartburn Worse

Can Probiotics Make Heartburn Worse? (Or Help Silent it?)

Did you know that from 1990 to 2020, the global prevalence of gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), which includes heartburn, skyrocketed by a whopping 77.53%? 

It’s a staggering statistic that raises questions about the underlying causes of this digestive ailment. 

But among your other foes, consider probiotics your friend.

However, if you are finding it difficult to trust this statement, these key points may convince you.

Key Highlights
  • Probiotics show a greater potential to relieve heartburn than cause it.
  • Heartburn is only a temporary side effect of probiotics.
  • Probiotics strengthen the gut barrier and may inhibit stomach acid release.

But there is more to learn about the probiotic species that are beneficial for heartburn.

So, keep reading to know the details.

Is Heartburn A Gut Issue?

Yes, don’t let the name fool you because heartburn does indeed stem from gut dysbiosis, so it is undeniably a gut issue. 

Firstly, let me start by explaining what heartburn is.

You might already be familiar with the uncomfortable sensation of heartburn.

But for information, heartburn is a burning sensation in the upper abdomen, throat, or chest that occurs when stomach acid escapes the upper sphincter of your stomach and travels up toward the mouth.

In general, the following are a few examples of probiotic strains that may potentially alleviate heartburn in the following ways:

  • B. bifidum YIT 10347 may improve regurgitation (a symptom in which gastric juices, and sometimes undigested food as well, rise back into the mouth and esophagus). Here, the esophagus is a tube extending between your throat and stomach.
  • Lactobacillus acidophilus and Lactobacillus casei Zhang may strengthen the physical gut barrier.
  • Lactobacillus johnsonii No. 1088 may help decrease the production of gastric acid. 
  • Lactobacillus gasseri LG21 may improve digestion.

Now there is no denying that heartburn may be triggered by a myriad of underlying problems, which include obesity, gut microbiome dysbiosis, smoking, hormonal imbalance, stress or anxiety, obesity, hiatal hernia, pregnancy, as well as certain foods, drugs, drinks, and eating habits.

But in the end, all these conditions mess with the digestion process and stomach, which is why taking probiotics helps to soothe heartburn in most cases.

Therefore, in this section, I am going to discuss the benefit of consuming good bacteria to restore the normal functioning of the gut. 

Probiotics Treat Heartburn Caused Due To Medicines

Certain medications are so strong that they may induce lesions in the stomach’s protective barrier, which may cause ulcers, and one of its symptoms is heartburn.

But gladly, research has demonstrated that Lactobacillus GG and Lactobacillus gasseri OLL2716 can protect gastric mucosal permeability.

Hence, they can prevent the aggressive side effects of such medicines, including non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) and aspirin.

Probiotics To Treat Heartburn In Obese Individuals

Poor gut health manifests itself in obesity and metabolic disease, but probiotics are a triple threat against all these three evils.

In this regard, the extra body weight exerts pressure on the stomach as well, which may cause gastric acid to travel up into your esophagus and cause heartburn.

Correspondingly, in a pilot scale study, an obese individual who complained of heartburn and cardiometabolic issues was treated with a probiotic pill.

This probiotic capsule contained three strains of Bifidobacteria sp., four strains of Lactobacillus sp., and Streptococcus salivarius subsp. thermophilus.

After three months, the researchers noted that the probiotics led to an improvement in his heartburn symptom, so much so that he stopped taking antacids. 

Additionally, he lost 4 kg of fat, and his waist was reduced by 3cm without any specific hypocaloric diet, and all these benefits were attributed to the establishment of a healthy gut microbiome with the supplemental bacteria.

Probiotics To Restore The Normal Gut Microbiome

There is no denying that, in some cases, only the proper treatment of the specific condition can give total relief from heartburn. But still, you may use probiotics to manage it in the meantime.

For instance, a hiatal hernia is a condition in which the stomach pulls up to the chest and causes heartburn. So, understandably the most appropriate fix would be surgery.

Likewise, If smoking, snacking after midnight, or lying on your back after having a snack is causing heartburn for you, then you need to introduce some lifestyle corrections.

Or if you have figured out that certain foods like spices, caffeine, chocolate, and spices aggravate your heartburn, then avoiding those foods may help.

In case of heartburn during pregnancy or due to hormonal imbalances like hypothyroidism or menopause, you should take your doctor’s advice to prompt recovery.

Nonetheless, a disruption of the gut microbiome is involved somewhere in these diseases, either in causing heartburn or the condition itself. 

For instance, smoking reduces the abundance of Bifidobacterium species in the gut.

Similarly, studies report that the gut microbiome diversity of premenopausal women is different from those of postmenopausal women.

Find out why probiotics are a must-have for women in this blog post.

In all these conditions, taking probiotics would regulate the gut microbiome, which will, in turn, improve your heartburn.

However, in pregnancy, you should opt for prenatal probiotic supplements that specifically mention they are safe.

In this regard, Lactobacillus casei, Bifidobacterium lactis, and Lactobacillus plantarum show a remarkable ability to colonize the intestine and improve the structure of intestinal flora.

Nonetheless, probiotics containing Lactobacillus, Bifidobacterium, Streptococcus species, or Saccharomyces cerevisiae are especially good for gut health. 

Probiotics For Anxiety Induced Heartburn

Your anxiety has a strong influence on your esophagus and stomach, which is why you may experience heartburn if you are constantly in that mental state.

Anxiety results from an activated sympathetic nervous system which slows down gut motility, decreases stomach acid production and weakens the sphincter that prevents stomach contents from spilling up towards your mouth.

Recently in 2021, scientists enrolled eighty-three stressed and anxious patients with chronic gastrointestinal symptoms, including heartburn, and fed them a probiotics product.

This product contained eight bacterial strains, including Bifidobacterium bifidum W23, Bifidobacterium lactis W52, Lactobacillus acidophilus W37, Lactobacillus brevis W63, Lactobacillus casei W56, Lactobacillus salivarius W24, Lactococcus lactis W19, and Lactococcus lactis.

After two months, the patients reported a significant improvement in their anxiety and depression as well as chronic GI symptoms, including heartburn and regurgitation.

What Do Probiotics Do To Stomach Acid?

Stomach acid gastric

Probiotics inhibit the release of the stomach.

This can also be justified logically because the pH of the stomach varies between 1.5 to 3.5.

In comparison, the pH range that is most suitable for the growth of probiotic lactic acid bacteria varies between 6 to 7.

So, naturally, these bacteria would be adapted to increase the stomach pH to promote their survival.

For instance, the optimal pH of Streptococcus thermophilus is 6.5, and for Lactobacillus bulgaricus, it is 5.8 to 6.

Correspondingly, a study reported that L. johnsonii No. 1088 could reduce the number of gastrin-producing cells in the stomach and raise the stomach pH by as much as 6.1.

Can Probiotics Increase Heartburn?

Some individuals may get heartburn when they first start taking probiotics, but in most cases, it eventually gets better on its own.

In this regard, Dr. Michael Ruscio, DC explains that when you initially start taking the supplements, your gut may become overcrowded with bacteria.

These bacteria will compete for space and initiate a ‘die-off reaction,’ which will cause the strongest heartburn feelings for the first three to five days.

However, after the gut microbiome readjustment, you should start feeling better. Otherwise, try changing the probiotic.

Apart from that brief period, probiotics are highly unlikely to cause any long-term heartburn problem or worsen it.

Can You Take Probiotics With Acid Reducers?

probiotics with acid reducers

Yes, you can absolutely use probiotics with antacids or acid reducers. 

In fact, using them together helps to diminish the risk of acid-neutralizing drugs.

These side effects may occur from the long-term use of proton pump inhibitors because they may excessively alkalize the gut environment.

For instance, they may cause small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO), Clostridium difficile infection, or stomach cancer.

Therefore, I recommend that you combine probiotic intake with antacids.

Moreover, the probiotics may potentiate their acid-reducing action as well.

But this is not all, and if you want to learn more about how and which probiotics may help to calm acid reflux disease, head to this blog post.

Which Probiotics Are Best For Heartburn?

Now that you know that probiotics are an effective therapeutic aid for heartburn, here are a few recommendations to help you get started with them.

1. YourBiology Probiotics – Best For Women

YourBiology Probiotics bottle

It contains L. acidophilus, L. Plantarum, L. Paracasei, and Bifidobacterium lactis which promote gut defense.

2. Biotics 8 probiotics – Best for Men

Biotics 8 bottle

It contains 5 Lactobacillus species, including L. casei, L. paracasei, L. plantarum, L. acidophilus, and L. rhamnosus, that strengthen the gut barrier.

3. Optibac Everyday Extra Probiotics – Best For Promoting Optimal Gut Functioning

Optibac Every Day Probiotics

It contains both Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium strains that reconstitute the gut microflora.

Final Takeaways

In a nutshell, you may take probiotics, especially the Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium species, to assuage heartburn.

Moreover, they are better than proton pump inhibitors because of their low risk of side effects.

One way by which they give heartburn relief is by restructuring the gut microbiome and optimizing the normal functioning of the gut.

Because of this, your stomach acid is prevented from regurgitating back, and you may not get heartburn.

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