Acid reflux — with its accompanying heartburn — is an uncomfortable but common complaint.

According to Yale University, up to 50 million Americans suffer from gastric-acid related diseases. While occasional acid reflux is usually no cause for concern, reflux that occurs more than twice a week may indicate gastroesophageal reflux disease, or GERD. Consult your doctor for diagnosis. Zinc is a trace mineral presently used to treat a variety of disorders, including gastric ulcers. A preliminary study supports its beneficial effects on acid reflux.

Zinc, an essential trace mineral, is vital to wound healing and to the health of the immune and reproductive systems. It is also essential to the senses of taste, vision and smell, as well as blood coagulation and proper insulin and thyroid function. In addition, zinc is an antioxidant, scavenging free radicals in the body and possibly slowing the aging process and helping to protect against chronic disease. Blue Shield Complementary and Alternative Health (BSCAH) reports that zinc accelerates the healing of gastric ulcers and helps to prevent new ones from forming. The website adds that a combination of zinc and carnosine — an amino acid bipeptide — helped to eradicate H. pylori, a pathogenic bacteria associated with stomach ulcers. The adult dietary requirement for zinc is 8 mg per day for women and 11 mg for men.

In a study published in 2010 in “The American Journal of Gastroenterology” and led by Phillipp Kerchhoff, M.D., of Yale University, the research team noted the need to develop a safer, faster-acting alternative to medications presently used to treat acid reflux. They found that zinc salts immediately abolished acid secretion in the gastric glands of both humans and rats; chronic low doses resulted in inhibited acid secretion. In a study of 12 volunteers, a single exposure to zinc salts quickly lowered stomach acid levels by raising stomach pH and keeping it elevated for over three hours. The team concluded that zinc offers a new, quick-acting and long-lasting therapy to inhibit gastric acid secretion.