Originally published 6/30/2008
Almost everyone occasionally experiences heartburn or acid reflux, the backflow of acid from the stomach into the esophagus. Heartburn usually occurs after eating and is felt behind the breastbone. When reflux is frequent and severe enough to damage the esophagus or interfere with normal activities, it is called gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD).
I have no experience using orange peel extract (d-limonene) for heartburn so I checked with Tieraona Low Dog, M.D., director of the Fellowship at the Arizona Center for Integrative Medicine, and an authority on botanical medicine. She told me that she does recommend d-limonene for treatment of heartburn and has found it very effective. Dr. Low Dog said that d-limonene stimulates esophageal peristalsis, helping move acid and liquids back into the stomach. She recommends buying it as orange peel extract in 1,000 mg doses (standardized to d-limonene 97-99%) and taking it once a day every other day for a total of 10 doses over 20 days. After that, take it as needed. Note that some orange peel extracts are standardized to synephrine, a stimulant drug that is generally taken for weight loss. Synephrine-containing products can cause unwanted side effects and are not what you want for heartburn treatment. Dr. Low Dog said that she doesn't know of any disadvantages to using the orange peel extract for heartburn, but because safety in pregnancy isn't known, she doesn't recommend it for women who are expecting.
The natural remedy I usually recommend for heartburn is deglycyrrhizinated licorice (DGL). Whole licorice can increase blood pressure; no such effect occurs with DGL. You can buy DGL in powder or tablet form. The easiest way to take it is to chew two tablets slowly 15 minutes before every meal and at bedtime, or take one-half teaspoon of the powder before meals. Allow either form to dissolve in the mouth and slowly trickle down the throat. You can continue to take DGL as long as you have symptoms. You'll find more information on dealing with heartburn and GERD at DrWeil.com.
Andrew Weil, M.D.