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Stop the Burn

I’m sure we’ve all suffered at one time or another with an occasional bout of heartburn, that uncomfortable, burning, pain in your upper chest. What can you do it about it? Heartburn or acid reflux, like every other pain in your body, is a warning signal. It is telling you that something must be changed.

Heartburn is a muscular problem. The lower esophageal sphincter (LES), a specialized ring of muscle located at the end of the esophagus, opens when you swallow to let food pass into the stomach. It then closes quickly to keep things in the stomach. When the LES doesn’t close quickly enough, or reopens at the wrong time, stomach acid flows back into the esophagus. The acid on the sensitive lining of the lower esophagus causes a burning sensation.

True heartburn relief must make the LES operate properly. It must keep the LES from relaxing inappropriately, or it must strengthen the LES. The simple fix of over the counter medication such as TUMS and other antacids really only mask the real issue.

So, how can you get proper heartburn/acid reflux relief? Follow some of these suggestions:

  1. Diet. Everyone is different and what types of food causes heartburn for one person will differ for the next. Our stomachs produce differing amounts of gastric juices, with differing degrees of acidity. A type of food that may not agree with you and cause acid reflux may be fine for someone else who also gets acid reflux. Relief requires listening to your body. The next time you have heartburn, think back to what you ate. Keep a diary every time you get a bout of heartburn. After about a month, look back on the diary and determine if there is a pattern to the type of food that may be causing your problem.
  2. Actions. The failure of your muscle to keep the “door” closed between the stomach and the esophagus may be as simple as your actions. Eating too fast, eating too much, or not chewing food well can all contribute to heartburn. Also, things like bending at the waist right after eating or wearing tight clothing can also be common connections to heartburn. An overweight person may also have more acid reflux cases as the extra weight puts undue pressure on that area of the body, an action best corrected by losing weight. Going to bed on a full stomach or exercising too soon after eating will also cause heartburn. Look at some of these possible causes and see if they may have an effect on you. Eat slower and chew every bite before swallowing. Stop eating before you get full. Sometimes your brain and your stomach take a bit to “talk” to each other. Wait at least 2 hours after eating before exercising and at least 3 hours before going to bed.
  3. Water. If you suffer from heartburn during or after exercise, you may simply be dehydrated. Every muscle, including the LES that prevents backflow of stomach juices, needs sufficient water to function well.
  4. Garlic. Garlic provides heartburn relief for many, especially those that have H. Pylori (a bacterium found in the stomach). H. Pylori works with acid secretion to damage stomach tissue, causing inflammation and contributing to heartburn. Garlic helps eliminate H. pylori – try eating 1 or 2 cloves of fresh, raw garlic daily.
  5. Oxygen. As mentioned several times, the root cause of heartburn is muscles. Muscles demand oxygen for efficient functioning. Maybe your stress is high or you have poor habits and fail to breathe deeply and regularly and thus you deprive the LES of the oxygen it needs to be strong and operate properly.

Here are some other home-remedies that may work for you:

  • Tall glass of milk
  • Baking Soda (full glass of water with 1 tsp of baking soda)
  • Celery
  • Yellow Mustard (1 tsp mixed into half filled glass of water)
  • Raw Potato (clean, peel an average size potato and blend it with a glass of water)
  • Chamomile
  • Ginger
  • Peppermint
  • Fennel
  • Papaya
  • Pineapple

If you are experiencing heartburn or acid reflux on a more regular basis, please make sure you see your doctor to rule out any other underlying health concerns. Once the more serious concerns are ruled out, try some of these simple, non-prescription or non-medicine based options to get relief from uncomfortable heartburn

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