Heartburn occurs when a muscular valve, called the lower espophageal sphincter
functions improperly, which allows stomach acid to back up into the esophagus.
This tube, which leads from the stomach to the throat can be greatly effected by
stomach acid, causing a burning, painful sensation in this area. Lack of proper
enzymes are also a cause. Heartburn, indigestion, acid reflux are all usually
defined by a vague chest or abdominal discomfort or burning in the solar plexus
area, with no apparent organic cause, that occurs during or soon after eating,
drinking, or stressful situations.
About 20% of all adults get heartburn at least once a month. Between 5% -15% of
adults have severe heartburn. About 25% of pregnant women have daily heatburn
and 50% have heartburn at least once a month.
There are two sphincter muscles located in the esophagus. The upper esophageal
sphincter and lower esophageal sphincter. Underlying conditions that could
possibly be the cause of heartburn include:
GERD or Gastroesophageal reflux disease, also referred to as acid reflux
disease, occurs when the lower esophageal sphincter does not close properly and
stomach contents back up or reflux into the esophagus. This condition can damage
the lining of the esophagus, causing such problems as ulceration and even
esophageal cancer. Do get a doctor's or practitioner's opinion to see if further
treatment is necessary. If you have asthma, this may be an underlying cause of
GERD. It has been found that asthmatics are twice as likely to have GERD as
non-asthmatics. Obesity seems to increase the risk of GERD. Research documented
in the Annals of Internal Medicine show that as body fat increases, so did
symptoms of GERD.
Gastroparesis is a delay in the gastric emptying of the stomach. This delay
causes the contents of the stomach to back up into the esophagus.
Hiatal Hernia occurs when the upper part of the stomach pushes through an
opening in the diaphragm causing reflux of stomach acid.
Peptic Ulcers in the stomach are considered gastric ulcers or stomach ulcers.
Duodenal ulcers occur in the duodenum. Both of these types of ulcers are
referred to as peptic ulcers and can be an underlying cause of heartburn.
Laryngopharyngeal Reflux occurs when the upper esophageal sphincter doesn't
function properly. Acid will flow into the throat. When this occurs, it is
referred to LGR.
Pregnancy is also an underlying of cause of heartburn, even if a woman has never
experienced this before she was pregnant.
Observe episodes of indigestion for changes in symptoms. If character, timing,
frequency or severity changes, a more serious disorder may be responsible. These
include heartburn from irritation of the lower esophagus, gallbladder disease,
ulcers or stomach cancer.
Heartburn symptoms in some people can cause chronic cough, asthma, wheezing or
Heartburn at night appears to be worse than heartburn during the day. According
to research in The Chest Journal, people have more trouble sleeping at night
because of the pain they experience from the heartburn. Acid stays in the
esophagus longer when one lies flat.
Although food is not the root cause of heartburn, it can aggravate the
situation. Foods such as onions, garlic, tomatoes, chocolate, peppermint, citrus
fruits, alcohol, soda, coffee and fatty foods can worsen heartburn symptoms. A
bland diet will not cure heartburn.
Aspirin and Ibuprofen can aggravate heartburn.
Top 20 Tips for Helping Heartburn:
1. Over all lifestyle changes. Stress can aggravate this situation.
2. Change in diet can greatly decrease symptoms. (See foods above). Write down
what you eat in a heartburn journal in order to identify which foods trigger
3. Allow time for leisurely meals. Chew food carefully and thoroughly. Avoid
conflicts during meals.
4. Avoiding refined carbohydrates (sugar, white rice, white bread), even honey &
other "natural" sugars, except Stevia. Reduce acid production so that even if
the reflux occurs there is less to irritate the esophagus.
5. Eat small frequent meals so pressure in the stomach does not push contents
6. Do not eat late at night. Allow several hours of digestion time before laying
down. Acid stays in the esophagus longer when one lies flat. Stay propped up at
least 30-45 degrees after eating or drinking & while sleeping. By placing 2 in.
blocks under the two legs of your bed at the headboard, can helped tremendously!
7. Avoid caffeine for a while.
8. Peppermint, which helps many digestive problems, can irritate reflux because
it may cause spasms of the cardiac valve.
9. Avoid excitement or exercise immediately after a meal. Avoid situations that
make you swallow air, such as exercising with your mouth open (breathing through
your mouth) or chewing gum.
10. Learn relaxation techniques such as meditation, yoga, controlled breathing
and stress reduction.
11. At first sign of heartburn, drink a large glass of water.
12. Antacids are an over the counter medicine that relieves heartburn
temporarily by neutralizing stomach acid. Dependence on antacids are dangerous.
They can mask serious problems if symptoms persist. Antacids can also interact
with certain prescription drugs and HIV medications. Check with your pharmacist
13. Stop Smoking. Chemicals in cigarette smoke can weaken the lower espophageal
sphincter and worsen heartburn.
14. If you have a juicer, juice a raw potato, peel and all, then add an equal
part of water to the juice and drink it immediately after preparation, 3 times a
15. Fresh papaya and its seeds (or Papaya tablets) can be eaten to help with
16. Plant-based enzymes and probiotics can be very beneficial and should be
taken daily. The enzymes in pineapple are also good for digestion but, this is
an acidic fruit and for some people is not the right choice. It depends on the
17. Aloe Vera juice is incredible for healing of the intestinal tract.
18. Vitamin B complex, 50 mgs, 3 times daily with meals is needed for proper
19. Plus 200 mcg of Vitamin B 12, 3 times daily will enhance the Vitamin B
20. Acupressure massage. At the first sign of heartburn, massage the acupressure
points between your solar plexus and navel. Massage these point first, gently in
a clockwise motion and then slowly work deeper. This can actually relieve
heartburn pressure and pain for months! Also, acupuncture works very well in
treating heartburn and other gastrointestinal issues. There is a wonderful
Chinese herbal remedy, which is a modified version of a Classical Chinese
formula that is brilliant when it comes to treating heartburn.
1. Annals of Internal Medicine
3. The Cleveland Clinic
4. The National Institute of Health
#1 is definitely true for me. When my kids give us a hard time getting to bed at night and it frustrates my wife my heartburn can flare up instantly.
I hate using antacids so I don't bother. Truthfully the only thing that has really worked for me is ranitidine, 150mg right before bed. If I don't take that, I pretty much always wake up in the middle of the night with heartburn - it disturbs my sleep greatly.
I would really love to find a natural solution and not take ranitidine at all. The tips above will help.
In fact, I notice that when I don't eat certain foods I am fine (on those nights I forget to take the OTC med).
A half teaspoon (measured) of Bob's Red Mill 'aluminum-free' baking soda in a small amount of water at the first heartburn symptom, will often give almost immediate relief. You can't take too much though, due to the sodium content and the fact that it makes your pH more alkaline, and there needs to be balance, too alkaline, especially when it comes to the blood is a bad thing.