Heartburn happens near the heart- Fiction!

The sensation of “heartburn” originates in the digestive tract, specifically the esophagus (throat). Heartburn is known as Gastro esophageal Reflux Disease (GERD).

Heartburn is caused by the weakening of the lower esophageal sphincter (LES). The LES is a valve that sits in between the esophagus and the stomach. When working properly, the valve closes tightly behind food that empties into the stomach. This keeps stomach acid inside of the stomach, which can withstand a pH of 1.5-3.5. When the LES valve is weak, stomach acid can be pushed up into the esophagus causing a painful sensation of heartburn. Over time, the esophagus may become eroded by stomach acid. This can lead to worse problems like Barret’s esophagus or esophageal cancer.

Lack of cardiovascular exercise and hormone fluctuations that impact the smooth muscle tissue during pregnancy are some things that can lead to a weakened LES. Breathing exercises for strengthening the diaphragm may help correct anatomic reasons for heartburn. Google “Yoga for GERD” or “Exercises for Reflux” to find exercise videos.

Certain foods can make heartburn feel worse- Fact!

Certain foods can trigger heartburn in patients who have a weakened LES. Patients who have heartburn often receive a long list of foods that are potential triggers. Not all foods on the list may be your triggers. Common culprits include coffee, spicy food, and acidic food, and alcohol. Your dietitian or health educator may help you get started with a symptom diary. We can also recommend specialty testing to identify your food sensitivities.

Herbal supplements may relieve feelings of heartburn- Fact!

Herbal supplements are not well regulated. There are potential benefits and risks that you should discuss with your doctor before starting any herbal remedy.

According to the Natural Medicines Database, calcium and magnesium are effective in treating dyspepsia (general stomach pain). Tums is effective because they are made out of calcium carbonate. Other supplements that are possibly effective include anise, artichoke, and peppermint. Activated charcoal, apple cider vinegar, certain probiotics, black seed, fenugreek, ginger, licorice, milk thistle, and turmeric do not have enough evidence to state whether they are effective.

Heartburn is something I must learn to live with- Fiction!

You don’t have to live with heartburn. Heartburn can be managed, prevented/cured with a combination of diet and lifestyle modifications and traditional medicine.

Your dietitian or health educator will help you sift through your alternative treatment options such as pre and probiotics, herbal supplements, or identifying trigger foods. You can also take control of your care by utilizing TNT’s specialty testing services to pinpoint the root cause of your heartburn. Ask your dietitian or health educator about our Mediator Release Test, Gut Zoomer, or DUTCH hormone test at your complimentary health assessment.