Does amitriptyline help with GERD? (+3 treatment options)

In this article, we will explore whether amitriptyline can help with the treatment of GERD or not, how amitriptyline helps with GERD and what are the available treatment options for GERD.

Does amitriptyline help with GERD?

Yes, amitriptyline can help with the treatment of GERD (Gastroesophageal reflux disease). Amitriptyline does not directly treat the condition of GERD but it can help with a few of its symptoms. It is combined with acid-lowering medications to treat GERD.

It can help with oesophageal hypersensitivity and can improve sleep quality. These symptoms can indirectly alleviate GERD conditions. 

Amitriptyline is an antidepressant that belongs to the class of tricyclic antidepressants (TCAs). This drug has been used for decades to treat psychological conditions such as depression, anxiety and in some cases chronic pain (1). The pain-relieving characteristic of amitriptyline can also be helpful in the case of GERD (2). 

If you have GERD, then instead of self-prescribing amitriptyline, it is essential to consult your healthcare provider to help you with the condition alleviate the symptoms and manage them. 

How does amitriptyline help with GERD?

Amitriptyline can be helpful for GERD in some cases. Amitriptyline is used for the management of stress and anxiety (3). By reducing stress and anxiety, amitriptyline helps with regurgitation and heartburn, symptoms of GERD (4).

Amitriptyline also has pain-relieving properties due to its action on certain neurotransmitters including norepinephrine and serotonin in the brain. It blocks the reuptake of these neurotransmitters and modulates the perception of pain in patients taking it, especially those with oesophagal hypersensitivity. This can help with the chest pain observed in some patients with GERD (2).

Sleep problems are often associated with people having GERD (5). Amitriptyline has sedative properties that can be attributed to (1):

  • Inhibition of reuptake of serotonin and norepinephrine
  • Antagonistic activity on H1 receptors
  • Alpha-adrenergic blocking properties

These mechanisms result in a calming effect on the patients having GERD issues. This improves sleep quality, reduces stress and promotes relaxation.

What does the research suggest?

Amitriptyline has been used as a combined therapy with some other medications that help treat GERD. These medications include proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) and H2 receptor antagonists.

Amitriptyline, when combined in low doses with conventional doses of PPIs or H2 receptor antagonists has proven to be helpful in treating GERD symptoms with reduced adverse effects (6).

What are alternative treatment options for GERD?

Amitriptyline can offer multiple advantages for GERD. However,  there are a number of other treatment options available that are more commonly used for the treatment of GERD. 


Pharmacological treatment includes:

Proton pump inhibitors (PPIs): These are the gold standard for the treatment of GERD. PPIs block the acid production in the stomach which helps with the symptoms like regurgitation, nausea and heartburn. They offer long-term relief (7). These medications include:

  • Omeprazole
  • Lansoprazole
  • Pantoprazole
  • Esomeprazole

H2 receptor antagonists: These medications also perform the same function as that of PPIs but through a different mechanism of action. H2 receptor antagonists are usually referred for milder symptoms and short-term action (8). These include:

  • Famotidine
  • Ranitidine
  • Cimetidine

There are some other medications that are helpful in treating the symptoms of GERD. These include:

  • Prokinetic agents such as metoclopramide
  • Sucralfate 
  • Oesophagal barrier formers such as Gaviscon or alginates.

Lifestyle modifications

Lifestyle modifications are often the first line of defence against GERD (9).

  • Identify the trigger food. These help with avoiding the food that worsens the symptoms such as spicy food, fizzy drinks etc.
  • Obesity can prove to be concerning in the case of GERD.
  • Smoking can weaken the esophageal sphincter leading to esophageal reflux.
  • Practice relaxation techniques as stress can exacerbate GERD symptoms.
  • Remain in an upright position for 2-3 hours after eating. Do not lie down immediately after eating.
  • Keep your head elevated for 6-8 inches to avoid backflow of acid (10).

Natural remedies

Many natural remedies have been shown to be helpful with the symptoms of GERD.

  • Ginger has anti-inflammatory properties. This can help with the digestive system helping with nausea and vomiting associated with GERD.


  • Liquorice root coats and protects the oesophagal lining. This helps to reduce the irritation in the digestive tract.


  • Slippery elm protects the oesophagus providing relief to the stomach.


  • Probiotics help restore gut bacteria improving gut health which helps with the symptoms of  GERD.

In my opinion, amitriptyline cannot treat GERD but it can help with the treatment. A few symptoms of GERD can be treated with the help of amitriptyline including regurgitation, heartburn and pain. Amitriptyline does not cure the condition but helps with the management of it. 

If you experience any of the symptoms of GERD then consult your healthcare provider. They can help you with tailoring a treatment plan that suits your needs and helps you recover faster and better. 

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