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Heartburn

What is Heartburn

Heartburn is a burning sensation experienced under your breastbone after you’ve eaten something that may not have agreed with you.

What are the Symptoms of Heartburn

A burning feeling in the chest just behind the breastbone (the sternum) that occurs after eating and lasts a few minutes to several hours.

Chest pain, especially after bending over or lying down.

Burning in the throat—or hot, sour, or salty-tasting fluid at the back of the throat.

Belching.

Often the symptoms may be mistaken for a heart attack but usually this condition is not nearly as dangerous. It is an irritation of the oesophagus that is caused by stomach acid. Usually sphincter at the end of the oesophagus relaxes to let food into the stomach, then contracts to close off the oesophagus from the stomach contents. If the muscle becomes weak, acid and bile from the stomach can go back into the oesophagus causing this condition.

Occasional heartburn isn't dangerous, but chronic heartburn can indicate serious problems.

What are the Causes of Heartburn

A sphincter that doesn't tighten as it should is the basic cause of heartburn. The causes can be: too much food in the stomach (overeating) or too much pressure on the stomach (frequently from obesity or pregnancy).

The sphincter relaxes with tomatoes, citrus fruits, garlic, onions, chocolate, coffee, alcohol, and peppermint, dishes high in fats and oils, medications, especially some antibiotics. Stress, which strains the nerves controlling the sphincter, can cause heartburn as can smoking.

Traditional Medical Treatments for Heartburn

Most physicians advocate antacids for occasional heartburn.

The primary objective is to identify the cause of the heartburn, so it can be avoided in the future. Surgery may be required to repair the sphincter if nothing else works, but this is relatively rare.

Complementary/Alternative Treatments for Heartburn

Herbal Therapies - Ginger (Zingiber officinale) tea can diminish heartburn quickly, and chamomile (Matricaria recutita) tea's calming effects is especially helpful. If your digestion system is not functioning as it should, try herbs such as agrimony and dandelion. If you have heartburn because of nervousness or anxiety, try hops, lemon balm and vervain. Ginger (Zingiber officinale) tea can diminish heartburn quickly, and chamomile (Matricaria recutita) tea's calming effects is especially helpful. If your digestion system is not functioning as it should, try herbs such as agrimony and dandelion. If you have heartburn because of nervousness or anxiety, try hops, lemon balm and vervain.

Homeopathy - Specific heartburn symptoms often respond well to homeopathic remedies. After eating spicy foods, take Nux vomica; after rich foods take Carbo vegetabilis; and for burning pain, take Arsenicum album. Specific heartburn symptoms often respond well to homeopathic remedies. After eating spicy foods, take Nux vomica; after rich foods take Carbo vegetabilis; and for burning pain, take Arsenicum album.

Treatments for Heartburn