What is Heartburn?
Heartburn, also known as acid reflux or acid indigestion, is a sick, burning feeling in the middle of the chest area. Caused by a build-up of acid in the stomach, which then travels up the esophagus to the throat, it can also result in an unpleasant acidic or bitter taste in the mouth.
Heartburn is often worse at night or after heavy meals, especially when they consist of rich or spicy food, followed by alcohol or coffee, but can also be brought on by stress and anxiety, pregnancy or smoking. Some medicines, painkillers for example, can contribute to an increase of stomach acid, leading to heartburn.
It is very common and an estimated 20% of adult Americans suffer bouts of heartburn, and with 7% it is a daily occurrence. As a result there has been lots of research into natural remedies.
What Causes Heartburn
There are several lifestyle changes that can be made which will help to ease the causes and symptoms of heartburn:
- Avoiding heavy late night meals by eating little and often throughout the day
- Chewing gum or sucking mints have been shown to help prevent heartburn
- Cut down on coffee and alcohol
- Quit, or at least cut down on, smoking
- Try to find methods that help with stress, such as meditation, exercise or yoga
- Wear looser clothes
- Try to raise the head end of your bed a couple of inches. This way your throat and esophagus are above the level of your stomach, discouraging acid flow.
- Avoid sleeping on your right side. The reason this helps is not exactly clear, but it could be down to anatomy.
Home Remedies for Heartburn
Ginger has been recognized for centuries as a soothing treatment for stomach problems, such as nausea and heartburn. With many beneficial properties, including boosting the immune system, fighting bacterial infections and colds, and improving blood circulation, ginger is a safe, natural remedy to take for heartburn. It can even be safely used throughout pregnancy, and is especially helpful for morning sickness and dietary cravings.
The root of the flowering ginger plant can be eaten fresh, dried, powdered or drunk as a juice, so taking a Ginger Root supplement is a simple way to include it in your diet.
As always, if your heartburn persists, it is a good idea to seek medical advice.