SCIENCE

Alkaline Water Helps Neutralize Heartburn Symptoms? Doctors Debunk Claims

Alkaline Water
(Photo : Getty Images/VLADIMIR RODAS) Does alkaline water help with heartburn?

Alkaline water has been recommended by many experts and celebrities such as Miranda Kerr for its health benefits.

The many health perks that alkaline water reportedly include being a huge help to heartburn patients as it can apparently "neutralize stomach acid and relieve symptoms of gastroesophageal reflux."

The alkaline water industry claimed that this water, which has a higher pH than the standard tap and bottled water, can neutralize the pH when it becomes too acidic and maintain the body's balance, Health.com reported.

A 2012 study also discovered that water with a pH of 8.8 appeared to have neutralizing effects on pepsin, an enzyme connected to the production of hydochloric acid found in the stomach. The study also showed that alkaline water seemed to have a buffering effect against the acid.

“These in vitro data suggest that alkaline water may be a useful, risk-free adjunctive treatment for reflux disease,” wrote the authors of the study, though they added that this still need to be further tested.

However, one gastroenterologist and University of North Carolina School of Medicine associate professor of medicine explained that there is no proof that this will have the same effects on the human body and that there are already existing treatments for the symptoms of heartburn. 

“We really have no evidence that this works in real life scenarios. Meanwhile, we do have many other reflux treatments that are well studied and pretty effective for people," he said, according to Fox News.

The doctor also emphasized that body already has its own mechanism for maintaing pH balance and does not necessarily need help in doing so.

“We have an incredibly sophisticated machinery to keep the pH levels where they should be throughout the body, and there’s not a lot that you can do, eat, or drink to change that," he added.

Heartburn is caused by the backward flow of stomach acid into the esophagus. According to Dellon, while drinking an alkaline fluid may help neutralize the stomach acid temporarily, this doesn't provide a permanenet solution to the underlying problem of why the fluid is there in the first place.

“It’s no different than taking a Tums or drinking a lot of milk—which some people with reflux like to do because milk is also slightly alkaline,” he explained.

Dr. Patricia Raymond, a fellow of the American College of Gastroenterology, shares the same opinion about alkaline water as Dellon and doesn't recommend it to her patients.

“I do support complementary medicine when we know that it can actually help. But the medical opinion is really lacking on alkaline water. We’re not excited about it as a potential treatment," she explained.

Meanwhile, Dellon also revealed that drinking and eating beverages and foods with increased pH may have detrimental effects on the body in the long run.

“The esophageal lining is built to withstand acid damage, but it’s not at all built to be exposed to things that are alkaline. So for some people, alkaline beverages could cause irritation," he added.

Dellon added that water will provide some relief for heartburn patients, but it doesn't necessarily have to be alkaline water as even regular water will do.

“It will raise the pH of your stomach, dilute the acid, and clear out the esophagus—so there’s lots of good reasons to drink water in general, and to stay hydrated,” he said.

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