Heartburn, also known as Acid Reflux or GERD, are a series of uncomfortable burning sensations of heat radiating from the breast bone, occurring from the navel traveling upward to the throat. Or you may experience pain radiating from the heart to the neck and arms mimicking angina pain. So why does these occur? It is not entirely understood why, but seems to me to be a result of either- weakened sphincters, low stomach acid content or a combination of the two- from diet (over eating & acid foods), lack of sleep and too much stress.
Symptoms often happen after consuming a large meal, and then bending, lying down and other change in position that weakens the sphincter at the bottom of the esophagus allowing for acid to leak through. Other possible causes are from Aspirin, Alcohol, Spicy or fried Foods, Citrus Fruits, Hiatal Hernia, excess Weight, Over-Eating, Stress, Smoking, Prescription Medications and Age.
As we get older, the amount of stomach acid decreases. When we eat, we need this acid to breakdown our food. If our acid levels are low, then this causes excess heat. The solution may be to drink more water to maintain hydration levels, eat smaller meals and avoid foods you are sensitive to. One of the best remedies that sounds contradictory is drinking directly (apple cider) or consuming vinegar either in salads or other foods helps add additional acid your system may need.
Other options are drinking Peppermint, Ginger, Kudzu, Licorice, Meadowsweet or Chamomile teas. These herbs go right to the issue, as teas are already hydrated and is very usable form for the body. Other herbs of benefit are those that are “yellow”, containing Berberine and/or Bitters- Barberry, Coptis, Dandelion, Fenugreek, Goldenseal, Oregon Grape and Turmeric. These herbs are best taken as tinctures or herbal supplements. Herbs are not only therapeutic but also contain nutrients, digestive enzymes and are beneficial to gut flora.
If you suffer from heartburn while sleeping, try laying down on your left side. Our lower esophagus curves slightly to the left so when you lay down gravity helps keep the sphincter closed. Using herbs together helps to strengthen your sphincters (lower esophageal exercises, Passionflower, Epimedium) reduce acid (Slippery Elm, Plantain, Meadowsweet), coat the lining of your gut (Slippery Elm, Oatstraw, Marshmallow) and overall support the digestive system.
Ask your Doctor for more information, if you frequently experience symptoms and need a diagnosis. Not all herbs or natural remedies are for appropriate for everyone. Consult with an Herbalist like myself, when you need help, that can make custom blends that will work especially for you.
You can find me and my products online at www.herbalelements.net