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Peppermint and Heartburn: Why You Should Avoid Peppermint with Upper Digestive Conditions

written by: Rochelle Connery • edited by: BStone • updated: 4/18/2011

Peppermint and indigestion go hand in hand, but peppermint and heartburn don’t mix. If you have heartburn, find out why you shouldn’t take peppermint as a digestive aid.

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    Peppermint’s Role in Digestion

    Isn’t it odd how peppermint will help some people for indigestion, yet it will cause indigestion for those with heartburn? That’s because of its relaxation properties.

    Peppermint actually relaxes and improves many conditions, including anxiety, PMS, bloating, diarrhea and indigestion. Basically, if it’s lodged in your abdomen, peppermint might be able to help it out. Its soothing properties relax muscles in the abdomen, so your stomach and intestines benefit.

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    Why Peppermint Won’t Work for Heartburn

    Peppermint and heartburn don’t mix because the same relaxation properties that help pass gas and control stomach acids actually relax the opening of the stomach. This relaxation allows the acid from the stomach to pass back up into the esophageal sphincter, wreaking havoc in your esophagus and throat.

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    Side Effects of Peppermint and Heartburn

    Peppermint aggravates those with heartburn, GERD, hiatal hernia and other gastrointestinal disorders that mainly affect the area just above the stomach. Although peppermint might cause disastrous side effects, it very likely will lead to intense discomfort.

    For one, it will further cause more acid reflux. And instead of just normal acid, you’ll also get peppermint oil burning up your esophagus. This can amplify your ordinary pain and result in needing to take heartburn remedies.

    Peppermint on its own yields few side effects, but in some cases, it may cause anal burning, rashes, headaches and sores in the mouth.

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    Don’t Take These Peppermints

    It’s not just that you shouldn’t take peppermint supplements with heartburn. You should also avoid chewing peppermint gum or sucking on peppermint hard candy. You might be tempted to take these to counteract the bad breath produced by your acid reflux disease, but you’ll regret it.

    Also, stay away from peppermint teas. Some people drink these to relieve stress and relax before going to bed. But you’ll only get overnight heartburn if you do that, so pick a different tea.

    Never take peppermint oil internally, period. This is actually poisonous. Some people use peppermint oil topically, and this shouldn’t affect your heartburn. You can keep up with the topical peppermint oil if needed, just never take it internally.

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    Ways to Freshen Up Instead

    If you really want to taste peppermint even with heartburn, use a mouthwash or toothpaste flavored with peppermint instead. You should be fine as long as you don’t actually swallow the fluid (and you shouldn’t swallow these items, anyway!).

    Chewing gum is just as breath-freshening in tropical fruit flavors as in minty flavors. You might want to avoid hot cinnamon gum as well, as cinnamon isn’t the best for heartburn.

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    Interactions with Heartburn Medicine

    According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, peppermint can actually counteract against the drugs you’re taking to combat heartburn. They recommend not taking it within a two-hour time frame of taking your heartburn medicine, which should be taken with meals.

    These medicines include Pepcid, Nexium and Prilosec. Other heartburn medication might still be affected, so always ask your doctor and use caution before taking peppermint internally with heartburn.

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