Does the inside of your chest feel like Dante’s inferno? This scorching sensation, known as “heartburn,” plagues roughly 20 percent of Americans at least once a week.
Over time, chronic heartburn can develop into the more serious gastritis or esophagitis, in which the lining of the stomach or esophagus erodes and ulcerates.
If you want to put out the flames, try the following natural remedies so you can tell the heat to hit the road!
Heartburn often appears after a meal and can last for several hours. When we eat, our stomach acid increases, so excessive food and liquid can increase stomach acid that backs up into your esophagus.
This creates a scalding sensation behind the breastbone, which is often accompanied by the following:
— burning in the throat or a hot, sour, acidic taste at the back of the throat
— difficulty swallowing
— chronic cough, sore throat, or hoarseness Seek immediate help if you experience severe chest pain, especially when accompanied by jaw or arm pain, or difficulty breathing. What Lights Your Fire? Trigger Foods
Very often, the foods we eat can cause indigestion.
Try switching from rich, spicy foods to more simple, bland foods that are more easily digested. You may try keeping a daily log of your meals to help you pinpoint troublesome foods.
— Sugar n’ spice: Common trigger foods include: fried foods, hot peppers, alcohol, coffee, citrus, onions, black pepper, chocolate, fatty food, soft drinks, vinegar, garlic, tomatoes, carbonated beverages, tomato-based products, and peppermint.
— Nibble on these: Make sure to eat adequate amounts of fresh fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, as well as enzyme-rich foods to facilitate digestion. Enjoy sweet potatoes, yams, mangoes, papaya, figs, brown rice, oats, pearl barley, daikon radish, apples, parsley, coriander, mint, dill, rosemary, ginger, bay leaf, fennel, dill, oregano, cilantro, sage, and anise.
— Nix the nighttime snacking. Eating a heavy meal before bedtime can make it difficult to have a good night’s rest. It’s better to consume a light snack, such as a piece of fruit, three hours before you get your beauty rest.
— Slow and steady does the trick. Remember that digestion begins in the mouth and that your stomach doesn’t have teeth. Make sure to chew your food thoroughly to facilitate digestion in the stomach. Wait at least three hours after a meal before going to bed.
Handle Heat with Herbs Your neighborhood pharmacy carries multiple over-the-counter medications to alleviate heartburn. However, if you prefer to seek Mother Nature’s help instead, try the herbs that follow. As always, it is a good idea to speak with your healthcare practitioner first before using any herbs and supplements. Do not take if you have or suspect an ulcer, are pregnant, or nursing.
— D-Limonene: peel away acid. Extracted from orange peel, this phytochemical has been shown to provide occasional heartburn relief in several clinical trials. In a double-blind placebo controlled study, participants randomly received D-limonene or a placebo capsule of soybean oil. The group who received D-Limonene reported 83 percent more relief than the placebo group (30 percent).
— Licorice: root out the heat. Although more evidence is needed to confirm its efficacy in treating indigestion, one study showed that licorice root extract helped to treat 100 patients with stomach ulcers.
After the subjects took the extract for six weeks, ulcers disappeared in 22 of these patients, while 90 percent of participants improved.
To cool the heat, try sipping on some delicious licorice root tea three times daily.
Bonus Tip: To further support your digestive needs and increase nutrient absorption, consider trying Abundant Energy, a blend of natural Chinese herbs.
Lighten Up Your Lifestyle
According to Chinese medicine, emotional turmoil stresses the liver-gallbladder network, slows down digestion, and can potentially cause hiatal hernia.
Try the following stress busters:
— Ease the stress with Tai Chi, a soothing bath, meditation, or a relaxing massage.
— Don’t wear tight clothes and lay on your left side to tame the heat. Propping your head on a pillow six inches high may help you feel better.
— Adapt workouts: crunches, certain yoga inversions, and heavy weights can exacerbate the heat. A simple walk may be more suitable for you, particularly after a meal. Maintaining a healthy weight will also relieve pressure on your abdomen.
— Stop smoking. No butts about it!
May you live long, live strong, and live happy!
Dr. Mao Shing Ni, best known as Dr. Mao is a bestselling author, doctor of Oriental Medicine and board certified anti-aging expert. He has appeared regularly on “Dr. Oz,” “The Doctors,” and “EXTRA.” Dr. Mao practices acupuncture, nutrition, and Chinese medicine with his associates at the Tao of Wellness in Santa Monica and Newport Beach. Dr. Mao and his brother, Dr. Daoshing Ni founded Tao of Wellness more than 25 years ago in addition to also founding Yo San University in Marina del Rey. To subscribe to his tip-filled newsletter please visit www.taoofwellness.com. To make an appointment for evaluation and treatment please call 310.917.2200 or you can email Dr. Mao at [email protected]