If you’re experiencing heartburn every single day, then you know how awful you start feeling when: a hiccup followed by an acidic-burning sensation starts in your chest and throat.
Why does it keep happening to me?
It may have been triggered by one or many things: something you ate, particularly processed foods that are spicy, fatty, or acidic.
Or perhaps you have gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), a chronic condition with many potential causes.
Whatever the culprit, it is reported that more than 65% of Americans suffer more than one episode of heartburn each month and more than 50% of pregnant women report struggling with heartburn during their 3rd trimester.
So it is no surprise that one of the top over-the-counter medicines sold is for heartburn relief with sales reaching $10 billion in 2012.
Frequency of heartburn in the U.S. heartburn population in 2003
However, the most common medications prescribed for ongoing and chronic heartburn related conditions fall under the category of Proton Pump Inhibitors (PPI) such as Prilosec, Prevacid and Nexium, to name a few.
And these PPIs come with a host of short-term and potentially long-term side effects.
Short-term side-effects can be:
- Stomach pain
- Cold symptoms
While the short-term side effects can be manageable for those who struggle with temporary heartburn symptoms, a vast majority of Americans find they require long-term treatment and the potential side effects can have devastating effects.
The long-term treatment being those individuals who require medication longer than the 14 days recommended.
Serious side effects associated with PPIs include:
- Serious allergic reactions
- Stevens-Johnson syndrome
- Toxic epidermal necrolysis
- Reduced kidney function
- Reduced liver function
- Malabsorption of nutrients
- C difficile colitis
Alternative relief to avoid harmful side-effects
Faced with the rising costs of healthcare and the risks of adverse side-effects, it is becoming more and more common for people suffering from heartburn to seek out more natural remedies to treat their symptoms.
While there steps you can take to reduce heartburn episodes; lose weight, change your diet, avoid acidic foods like caffeine and alcohol, those changes take time and many people are seeking immediate relief for their heartburn symptoms.
Digestive Enzymes to the Rescue!
Digestive enzymes occur naturally in our stomach that help digest food, but over time these enzymes can be depleted or not function as they should resulting in heartburn or sour belly or a host of other digestive complaints.
By taking a digestive enzyme, many of which are made with natural ingredients like papaya and pineapple, with each meal, you are essentially giving your body a little boost digesting the foods you are putting in it and reducing the negative symptoms.
Loosen up your clothing
In some cases, heartburn can happen because tight clothing compresses your stomach, essentially squeezing the contents and acid to rise up into your oesophagus burning the delicate tissue.
If you have eaten a large or acidic meal and start to feel a slight burning sensation, try unlatching your belt or pants, whatever you may be wearing that is squeezing your midsection.
Get off the Couch, Time to Go for a Walk
While the last thing you feel like doing after eating a greasy or heavy meal is walk; it really does amazing things for your digestion and can help relieve your heartburn symptoms.
Walking at moderate speeds helps increase your metabolism, which in turn empties your stomach quicker. Having an empty stomach means there is no food sitting in your gut for your stomach to digest which is the source of most heartburn symptoms.
Stand Up or Elevate your Upper Body
Lying down or sitting down after a large, grease and acidic meal can make heartburn symptoms worse. When in a sitting position you are compressing your midsection and not allowing the natural flow of food to empty your stomach.
If you are sitting and feel burning symptoms, try standing up. If you are still feeling heartburn symptom when it comes time for bed, or find you experience more symptoms when lying down, try to adjust your sleeping position to raise your upper body.
The Mayo Clinic suggests lifting your body from the waist up either with an adjustable bed or by using an inexpensive wedge pillow.
Mix baking soda with water and lemon juice
For a quick fix for heartburn, try mixing 1 teaspoon of baking soda in some warm water with a spritz of lemon juice.
This mixture can calm symptoms of heartburn by neutralizing the acid in your stomach.
Just note that baking soda has higher sodium content and may not be advised for people who are on medications to regulate blood pressure.
Liquorice – Not just candy, kiddo
Liquorice root, not to be confused with liquorice candy, is an old folk remedy that’s been used to treat sour belly and heartburn.
It is thought to help by increasing the mucous coating of your oesophagal lining, which can protect your oesophagus from damaging stomach acid.
However, take note, glycyrrhizin is a chemical compound found naturally in liquorice and has been shown to cause headaches, swelling, loss of potassium and blood pressure problems.
De-glycyrrhizinate liquorice (DGL)glycyrrhizin and is available at many health food stores and online pharmacies.
Bubblegum, Bubblegum in a Dish
According to an abstract published in the Journal of Dental Research, chewing gum for half an hour after each meal may also help reduce acidic reflux and heartburn.
As you chew your food, your mouth produces saliva which contains your body’s own digestive enzymes. By chewing gum, you are allowing your mouth to create even more natural enzymes which can help aid in digestion and reduce heartburn symptoms by diluting and clearing the stomach acid from your oesophagus.
Smoking is Hateful to the Gut
Most people already know they should cut down or eliminate smoking, but more medical data is suggesting that you refrain especially after eating.
Most smokers, especially after eating a big, heavy meal, reach for a cigarette and if you already struggle with heartburn, you could be exacerbating the problem.
According to research, smoking a cigarette after a meal does two things:
- It dries out your mouth with reduces the number of digestive enzymes being swallowed from saliva
- It is believed to relax the ring of muscles at the base of your oesophagus allowing acid to rise up from your stomach
If you must smoke a cigarette, try to wait at least an hour to give your food time to digest and leave your stomach. Instead, try sipping some ginger or mint tea after your meal.