How to Use Lemon Water to Fight Heartburn, Acid Reflux, and More

6 minute read

Lemon water has many purported benefits, but how could something as acidic as anything with lemon juice in it actually help with digestive problems?

If you have acid reflux or GERD and that burning feeling is back, you want to treat it immediately. Some people swear by lemon water as a quick-and-easy acid reflux cure; others say it makes their symptoms worse. Let’s see what the reasoning is behind this and if lemon water is right for you.

Citrus and Acid Reflux

Acid reflux is a situation in which your stomach acid moves from your stomach into your esophagus and sometimes into your mouth. The esophagus is pretty sensitive, so many people report feeling a burning sensation in their chest or throat when this happens. This is often called heartburn.

Sometimes you’ll hear people talk about GERD or gastroesophageal reflux disease. GERD and acid reflux are very closely related, and often people will use the terms interchangeably.

Acid reflux is an incidence of this problem while GERD is repeat episodes that can lead to further problems and complications.

If you research the trigger foods for acid reflux, you’ll see that citrus fruits are on almost every list. Citrus fruits include oranges, lemons, grapefruits, pineapples, and limes, and they all come with pretty high levels of acid. The acid in these foods can cause a bout of reflux, especially if you are eating them on an empty stomach.

The Difference Water Makes

While lemon and citrus alone is bad for acid reflux, and can even prompt an episode or make one worse, it can make your reflux problems better when that lemon juice is mixed with water.

Lemon mixed with water is thought to be alkaline by many people, which actually isn’t true, but the effect of lemon water on your kidneys is that of alkaline. This gets a little confusing, but the vitamin C in lemon water is what causes acidity, when consumed the vitamin C is used, leaving the rest of it as an alkaline.

It is important to remember, though, that just because lemon water may increase the alkalinity of urine, it is not having the same effect on the bloodstream. It does not “alkalize your body.” In terms of acid reflux, lemon water is acidic upon entering the stomach. Thus, for the purposes of acid reflux and indigestion, it is acidic.

How Lemon Water Helps Acid Reflux

There are some indirect ways that adding lemon water to your daily regimen can help you battle acid reflux.

If you’re overweight, your doctor will probably suggest weight loss as a way to combat acid reflux. Even if you’re not overweight, but have recently gained weight, that may contribute to your acid reflux. It’s been proven that a structured weight loss program can not only improve but might actually lead to a complete resolution of GERD symptoms


A study back in 2008 showed that lemon helped mice improve fat metabolism, as the lemon polyphenols stimulated the liver to produce enzymes that blocked the absorption of dietary fats.

Replacing your favorite calorie-laden drinks with lemon water will give you the fluids you need to stay hydrated and to feel satiated during the day without giving you extra calories. One soda that’s replaced by lemon water a day is a 100-200 calorie step in the right direction for weight loss.

Other stomach conditions, such as gastritis, peptic ulcer disease, and gastric cancer, can benefit from the vitamin C found in lemon water. A study discovered the benefits of vitamin C on these stomach conditions.

While gastritis does not cause heartburn, some of the symptoms are similar, and both conditions require reducing stomach acid as part of the treatment protocol.

How to Use Lemon Water to Treat Acid Reflux

Mix one tablespoon of fresh-squeezed lemon juice with eight ounces of water.

Drink the mixture through a straw, if possible, to protect your tooth enamel from the acid in the lemon juice. Schedule your lemon water drinks for about 20 minutes before your meals, especially if you’re going to be eating something you believe is a trigger food for you.

| Related: 9 Ways Drinking Hot Water Benefits Your Health |

If you find lemon water to be effective for you, you’re in luck and you can reap the rewards of this drink. If lemon water seems to aggravate your symptoms, then stop using this home therapy for acid reflux immediately.

Acid Reflux and Medical Intervention

If you have heartburn or acid reflux symptoms on a regular basis, you should seek medical advice. When acid reflux is so regular that it slides into the GERD diagnosis, you are in danger of having some serious complications.

Some complications of GERD can include esophageal cancer, erosion or ulcers in the esophagus, abnormal cell growth (Barrett’s esophagus), scarring, and tightening of the esophagus.

It’s always advisable to speak to a professional before turning to over-the-counter medications or home remedies for the treatment of chronic issues, like repeated heartburn symptoms.

The Bottom Line

If you have acid reflux or heartburn once in a while, it’s probably triggered by something you’ve eaten. This infrequent problem is painful and can be very aggravating and you’ll want to seek treatment as soon as possible, maybe even before you get the symptoms.

While there is no direct evidence at this point that supports lemon water as a way to relieve your acid reflux symptoms, there is some anecdotal evidence in that direction. At the very least, it’s worth a shot. It could be an extremely convenient option.

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