Are you among the almost 30 percent of Canadians who has upper gastrointestinal complaints? You may also be one of almost half of these bellyachers who identify this problem as heartburn.
What, exactly, is heartburn? Also known as acid indigestion or acid reflux, heartburn is an irritation of the esophagus caused by acid that comes up (refluxes) from the stomach. This causes a burning pain felt in the chest just behind the breastbone, and can cause tissue damage in the esophagus.
Many people with symptoms of heartburn actually have too little stomach acid being produced. When there is a lack of stomach acid, the stomach is no longer a sterile environment. This allows the bacteria, parasites, and other pathogens to infiltrate and colonize in the stomach, intestinal tract, and colon, which then causes food to putrefy in the stomach, causing volatile gases and fatty acids to be produced.
The combination of volatile gases and fatty acids creates pressure in the stomach that is stronger than the pressure exerted by the lower esophageal sphincter (LES)–the gate between the throat and the stomach. This allows acids from the stomach to be forced up into the esophagus.
It is thought that low stomach acid may also play a role in keeping the LES in a relaxed state (open) longer than normal. If this sphincter is not closed in a timely manner, acids are free to move from the stomach and into the esophagus, causing heartburn.
In the long term, those who suffer from heartburn should supplement with a full-spectrum digestive enzyme that includes hydrochloric acid. By ensuring it has the enzymes to break down proteins, fats, and carbohydrates, the supplement will not only help with heartburn, but it will also assist the body through the entire digestive process.
In the short term, it is important to relieve the symptoms of heartburn; the consequence may be damage to the esophagus. Relief can be found by using natural supplements that include ingredients that work to temporarily inhibit acid secretions such as ellagic acid–found in raspberries and pomegranates–which also has antiviral and antibacterial properties.
Using a natural supplement that includes such antioxidant and antiviral properties can work to protect the tissues in this area. It is also a good idea to use ingredients, such as gastric mucin, that help heal stomach ulcers as well as destroy H. pylori, a cause of stomach ulcers.
Taking this information to heart may soon provide soothing relief for your heartburn.