Heartburn Remedies
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Heartburn
Herbal & Home Remedies Herbal Remedies Home Remedies

CatnipHeartburn is a burning sensation in the chest that can extend to the neck, throat, and face; it is worsened by bending or lying down. It is the primary symptom of gastroesophageal reflux, which is the movement of stomach acid into the esophagus. On rare occasions, it is due to gastritis (stomach lining inflammation).

More than one-third of the population is afflicted by heartburn, with about one-tenth afflicted daily. Infrequent heartburn is usually without serious consequences, but chronic or frequent heartburn (recurring more than twice per week) can have severe consequences. Accordingly, early management is important.

Understanding heartburn depends on understanding the structure and action of the esophagus. The esophagus is a tube connecting the throat to the stomach. It is about 10 in (25 cm) long in adults, lined with squamous (plate-like) epithelial cells, coated with mucus, and surrounded by muscles that push food to the stomach by sequential waves of contraction (peristalsis). The lower esophageal sphincter (LES) is a thick band of muscles that encircles the esophagus just above the uppermost part of the stomach. This sphincter is usually tightly closed and normally opens only when food passes from the esophagus into the stomach. Thus, the contents of the stomach are normally kept from moving back into the esophagus.

The stomach has a thick mucous coating that protects it from the strong acid it secretes into its interior when food is present, but the much thinner esophageal coating doesn't provide protection against acid. Thus, if the LES opens inappropriately or fails to close completely, and stomach contents leak into the esophagus, the esophagus can be burned by acid. The resulting burning sensation is called heartburn.

Occasional heartburn has no serious long-lasting effects, but repeated episodes of gastroesophageal reflux can ultimately lead to esophageal inflammation (esophagitis) and other damage. If episodes occur more frequently than twice a week, and the esophagus is repeatedly subjected to acid and digestive enzymes from the stomach, ulcerations, scarring, and thickening of the esophagus walls can result. This thickening of the esophagus wall causes a narrowing of the interior of the esophagus. Such narrowing affects swallowing and peristaltic movements. Repeated irritation can also result in changes in the types of cells that line the esophagus. The condition associated with these changes is termed Barrett's syndrome and can lead to esophageal cancer.

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Symptoms

Heartburn itself is a symptom. Other symptoms also caused by gastroesophageal reflux can be associated with heartburn. Often heartburn sufferers salivate excessively or regurgitate stomach contents into their mouths, leaving a sour or bitter taste.

Frequent gastroesophageal reflux leads to additional complications including difficult or painful swallowing, sore throat, hoarseness, coughing, laryngitis, wheezing, asthma, pneumonia, gingivitis, bad breath, and earache.

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Causes

 

A number of different factors may contribute to LES malfunction with its consequent gastroesophageal acid reflux:

  • The eating of large meals that distend the stomach can cause the LES to open inappropriately.
  • Lying down within two to three hours of eating can cause the LES to open.
  • Obesity, pregnancy, and tight clothing can impair the ability of the LES to stay closed by putting pressure on the abdomen.
  • Certain drugs, notably nicotine, alcohol, diazepam (Valium), meperidine (Demerol), theophylline, morphine, prostaglandins, calcium channel blockers, nitrate heart medications, anticholinergic and adrenergic drugs (drugs that limit nerve reactions), including dopamine, can relax the LES.
  • Progesterone is thought to relax the LES.
  • Greasy foods and some other foods such as chocolate, coffee, and peppermint can relax the LES.
  • Paralysis and scleroderma can cause the LES to malfunction.
  • Hiatus hernia may also cause heartburn according to some gastroenterologists. (Hiatus hernia is a protrusion of part of the stomach through the diaphragm to a position next to the esophagus.)

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Home Remedies

Consuming more fiber nutrient foods is another natural way to alleviate future suffering. Bulk foods help to absorb excess acid and gas, and allow your body to rid itself of toxins more quickly. For those who respond poorly to high fiber vegetables, fiber pills and beverages are an easy alternative.

The more water you drink, the less likely you are to suffer the pains of heartburn. Drinking at least 8-glasses of water each day will rid the body of toxins and allow your body to expel acid naturally.

Make a juice using raw potatoes. Wash the potato very well do not peel it, just place it in the juicer, mix it with some other juice for taste and drink immediately after juicing. (site member insertion - April 26th, 2009)

If you have suggestions or know of a proven home remedy add it here in the comment area.

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Herbal Remedies

Green tea has been used for centuries in Japan as an after dinner drink. Green teas aid the body in the digestion process, and help soothe the stomach's sensitive tissue.

Drink Chamomile tea after meals to relieve esophageal irritation.

Herbal teas containing even trace amounts of peppermint, chamomile, ginger, licorice root and catnip help the stomach lining repair itself. Often, one cup of tea following dinner is enough to stave off future heartburn episodes.

Drink Aloe Vera juice to heal the intestinal tract.

If you have suggestions or know of a proven herbal remedy add it here in the comment area.

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Wellness Program

Never smoke before or while eating. Smoking often causes one to swallow small amounts of air, which form air pockets in the digestive tract with the added pressure of food. Smoking also slows the body's ability to digest food.

Monitor which foods cause you to suffer heartburn. Often times, eliminating certain gas forming foods (such as beans, cabbage, cucumbers and onions) from the diet, brings an end to suffering.

Go for a small walk after eating, which will help stimulate the digestive system.

Don't chew gum before meals, which also causes one to swallow air.

Never exercise following a large meal.

Avoid wearing tight or restrictive clothing.

Chew food thoroughly and slowly, allowing for a leisurely meal.

Don't consume alcohol with food.

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