Probiotics For Acid Reflux – A Comprehensive Guide

Photo of author

By Meghan Stoops, RDN

Reviewed by Juliana Tamayo, MS, RDN - Last Updated

probiotics for acid reflux

Sick of feeling that dreaded burning sensation in your chest following a meal? Tired of having to avoid some of your favorite foods or having to sleep with your head elevated just to get comfortable? You’re not alone.

Acid reflux may seem like a minor condition that can be easily controlled with over-the-counter medications, but it can be incredibly uncomfortable, and the long-term effects of chronic reflux can be severe. So, what can we do? Recent research suggests an unlikely solution to this irritating, yet common condition, probiotics. 

probiotic pill capsules in bottle

What Are Probiotics?

Chances are, you’ve heard of probiotics before. But do you know what they are? Probiotics are the microorganisms found within your digestive tract that work together to help perform vital functions in a variety of areas of your body, including digestion, immune response, heart health, and more. 

Your gut contains a diverse population of these microbes, which typically consist of viruses, bacteria, and fungi, in communities collectively known as the microbiome. You can get probiotics from various food sources, including fermented foods, such as yogurt, kefir, kimchi, sauerkraut, miso, and more. 


What Causes Acid Reflux?

Acid reflux happens when stomach acid travels back up into the esophagus during digestion, resulting in a burning discomfort in your chest that is often exacerbated when lying flat. Those who experience chronic acid reflux may have a condition known as gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). 

The cause of acid reflux is often due to a relaxing of the lower esophageal sphincter. This is a ring of muscles that allows food from the esophagus to flow into the stomach and then is supposed to close off the prevent backflow. If this muscle becomes weakened, it will no longer close properly, allowing stomach acid to flow back up into the esophagus. 

acid reflux

The chances of developing chronic acid reflux are increased in those who are obese, suffer from hiatal hernia, and during pregnancy. Smoking, large meals, consuming fried or fatty foods, alcohol, coffee, and some medications can aggravate the symptoms of acid reflux.

Acid reflux is a relatively common condition, estimated to affect about 20% of Americans. If left untreated, chronic acid reflux can cause serious complications including Barrett’s esophagus, esophageal ulcerations, and more. Acid reflux can often be managed with lifestyle, such as maintaining a healthy weight, avoiding smoking, and avoiding large, heavy meals before bed.

Can Probiotics Help with Acid Reflux? 

Recent studies have suggested that probiotic use may help manage acid reflux symptoms. Although more research is still needed, the results have been promising in terms of occasional acid reflux and chronic GERD. Probiotic use has also shown promise in helping to ease potential side effects of medications often used to treat acid reflux.

man holding probiotics

Although we mainly associate acid reflux with heartburn, other common symptoms include regurgitation, nausea, abdominal pain, belching, and shortness of breath. A 2020 systematic review of probiotic use for acid reflux has shown 11 different studies to provide positive results for a reduction in these acid reflux symptoms.

Those who struggle with frequent bouts of acid reflux are likely familiar with a common medication prescribed to help treat the symptoms, proton pump inhibitors (PPIs). PPIs help to reduce stomach acid production, but they aren’t without their potential side effects. 

For some, PPIs can result in a condition of excessive bacterial growth in the intestines, known as small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO). Taking probiotics while taking medication for chronic acid reflex can potentially help to reduce incidences of SIBO. Further in-depth studies are needed to determine the efficacy of probiotic supplementation for acid reflux, but current studies show promise.

Can Probiotics Cause Acid Reflux or Make it Worse?

Probiotics are not associated with an increased risk of developing acid reflux. Supplementing with probiotics does not increase stomach acid production but instead may help ease common symptoms associated with acid reflux. It is important to note that the effects of probiotic supplementation for acid reflux still require further review however, no adverse effects have been found at this time.

Best Probiotics for Acid Reflux

Of the studies available, common strains of probiotic bacteria studied included Lactobacillus strains, Bacillus Subtilis, and Enterococcus Faecium. All were associated with a positive effect on acid reflux symptoms.

When looking for a high-quality probiotic, the American Gastroenterology Association recommends choosing one that provides the strain of bacteria on the label. Always purchase probiotic supplements from a reputable source. To get the most from your supplement, choose one that contains colony-forming units (CFUs) in the billions. This is the number of viable microbes in the product. The more in the product the better it will work. Lastly, always discuss with your health care provider before adding any kind of probiotic supplement to your routine.

Some great probiotic supplement options for acid reflux include the following: 

Dr. Amy Myers Best Probiotics 100 Billion

probiotics for acid reflux dr. amy myers best probiotics 100 billion

Dr. Amy Myers Best Probiotics 100 Billion contains 100 billion CFUs from 14 different strains of beneficial bacteria. Included in the 14 strains is Lactobacillus Gasseri, which has been shown to help potentially improve reflux symptoms along with indigestion. You can purchase a 30-day supply of this probiotic supplement for $71.97 from Amazon.

Hyperbiotics PRO-15 Probiotics

probiotics for acid reflux hyperbiotics pro 15 probiotics

Hyperbiotics PRO-15 Probiotics contains 15 billion CFU from 15 different beneficial bacterial strains, including Lactobacillus Gasseri. You can purchase this probiotic supplement at a more budget-friendly price range of $24.99 for a two-month supply.

NewRhythm Probiotics

probiotics for acid reflux newrhythm probiotics

NewRhythm Probiotic is a time-release probiotic supplement that contains 20 billion CFUs from 20 different beneficial bacterial strains. This supplement is also one of the most budget-friendly options at only $16.99 for a two-month supply.

Bottom Line: Probiotics for Acid Reflux

Probiotics have been in the spotlight lately for their many different beneficial health effects, including the potential to help improve or reduce incidences of acid reflux. Although the research remains limited in this area, of the studies conducted, the results show a positive correlation between probiotics and their effects on acid reflux. If you are interested in exploring probiotic supplements for the treatment of your acid reflux, be sure to consult your healthcare physician.

Photo of author

Meghan Stoops, RDN

Meghan Stoops is a Registered Dietitian and licensed Nutritionist with a bachelor’s in Dietetics from San Diego State University. Meghan developed an interest in dietetics early on through her own personal struggles with nutrition misinformation. She began doing her own research, which sparked her passion for nutrition and it’s impact on our physical and mental health. Today, she takes take a non-diet, all-foods-fit approach to nutrition, and is devoted to teaching others that eating healthy does not mean restriction or sacrifice.