What is heartburn?
Heartburn, also known by medical terms pyrosis or acid indigestion, is a burning sensation appearing in the chest or epigastric region, which can rise to the neck and throat.
Frequent heartburn can be the sign of GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease), especially if combined with other symptoms, such as chest pain, sour taste in the mouth, coughing or wheezing, regurgitation.
Chronic heartburn is an issue that must be addressed by a doctor. However, it is estimated that about 20% of people have heartburn once a week, probably caused by something they ate, and there are many natural remedies that can help with this problem when it occurs.
Natural ways to treat heartburn
The key to preventing heartburn is, of course, to avoid foods that trigger it. This is all individual but some foods are commonly known to cause heartburn more than others.
These foods include citrus fruit, peppermint, chocolate, raw onions and garlic, pepper, tomatoes, coffee, alcohol, soda pops, vinegar, spicy, and fatty foods.
It is also recommended to eat slowly and to wait at least two hours after the meal before going to bed.
Stress is found to be a significant factor for heartburn, it may act as a trigger or worsen its symptoms. Many people who suffer from heartburn have testified that there is a link, but it is yet to be established by scientists.
Smoking has been proven to cause heartburn because nicotine, one of its main ingredients, weakens the esophageal sphincter, a muscle that closes the esophagus keeping the contents of the stomach from returning upwards.
Deglycyrrhizinated licorice or DGL is a popular remedy for heartburn. It is a form of herb licorice that is free of substances which cause some of the side effects associated with its use.
Many people claim that chewing DGL helps with symptoms of heartburn, although there are no clinical trials or studies performed to corroborate it.
Aloe vera juice can also be beneficial for people who suffer from heartburn. It soothes irritated esophagus and it is best if used freshly squeezed directly from aloe leaves. The recommended dosage is one quarter of a cup of aloe vera juice 20 minutes before meal.
Another folk remedy is slippery elm, commonly used for treating sore throat. It contains mucilage which coats the walls of esophagus and prevents irritation.
Marshmallow works similarly to slippery elm because it too contains mucilage. The best way to take it is to drink Marshmallow root tea, which can be bought at herbalist’s.
However, some caution is recommended if using Marshmallow, because it is not suitable for people who have diabetes or for pregnant or nursing women. It is also known to decrease the absorption of some drugs.