How to Stop Heartburn and Indigestion Naturally, Without Antacids

Put an end to heartburn and indigestion once and for all, without sacrificing your health!

Do you struggle with constant bloating, stomach cramps, a constant raw feeling in your throat due to acid reflux, or embarrassing belching or wind?

Do you dread lying down at the end of the day because you just know that as soon as your head hits the pillow, you are inevitably going to suffer from the excruciating pain of heartburn or indigestion?

Do you know that for every bite of food you take, you will be paying for it later?

Does this cause you continual stress and affect your quality of life?

If you answered, ‘yes’, you are not alone!

You can stop heartburn naturally and ditch your zantac once and for all. But first let us explain exactly what heartburn is.

Heartburn—it’s more common than you think:

Heartburn is a very common health complaint that millions experience on a daily basis. It is estimated that in Australia, one in five people experiences heartburn at least once a week![i] The population in the US spends upwards of 10 billion dollars annually on antacids.[ii]

Heartburn is characterised by a burning sensation in the oesophagus, caused by stomach acid or ‘hydrochloric acid’ rising out of the stomach and up the oesophagus. Heartburn can range in severity from somewhat annoying to downright painful.

Heartburn can sometimes be caused by a condition called GERDGastro-oesophageal Reflux Disease—a disorder that affects the ring of muscle dividing the oesophagus from the stomach, known as the lower oesophageal sphincter. When this muscle becomes weak or too relaxed, the contents of the stomach, including stomach acids, can rise up along the oesophagus, and cause that horrible burning feeling that we are all familiar with.

Pregnant woman are particularly prone to GERD, as the progesterone which the body produces during this time which is designed to relax the muscles of the uterus, also has the unintended effect of relaxing other muscles, including the lower oesophageal sphincter. So even if you are someone who has never had a problem with heartburn before, during pregnancy you may just find that you become all-too familiar with it!

The hidden dangers of antacids:

Many sufferers try to get relief from the problem by using antacids; however, what most people don’t know is that long term use of these can lead to a range of health problems such as malabsorbtion of nutrients (this means that if the person is taking other drugs or even vitamin supplements, they are less-likely to be absorbed by the body and their effects are diminished); constipation or diarrhoea; headaches, increased risk of food allergies,[iii] nausea[iv], and according to the FDA, they are even linked to bone fractures![v]

In particular, antacids are linked to a health problem called pernicious anaemia. This condition can lead to severe fatigue and muscle and nerve problems, leaving sufferers crippled and lacking control of their bowels, bladders and sense of balance in many cases. The reason for this condition is simple—a lack of vitamin B12. Vitamin B12 is essential for producing red blood cells and maintaining a healthy nervous system, and a lack of it can lead to this autoimmune condition, which causes the body to attack the cells in the stomach needed for absorbing this vitamin.

What have antacids got to do with vitamin B12 deficiency? Well one of the most common causes of a vitamin B12 deficiency is taking acid reflux drugs. In fact, a recent Austrian study demonstrated that after only 4 or 5 months of taking such drugs, the levels of this vitamin began to drop in otherwise healthy men.[vi]

Like any drug, antacids merely mask the problem, rather than getting to the root of its cause. Instead of preventing reflux from happening, the body’s hydrochloric acid production is merely neutralised, reduced or blocked. Therefore, sufferers continue to experience reflux, but are just no longer able to feel it.

Hydrochloric Acid—our stomach’s little helper.

Like everything in our body, hydrochloric acid is there for a reason, and blocking its production to stop the problem of heartburn can cause a greater problem to begin, as they eliminate the acidic environment that is needed for successful digestion of food.

In many cases, ironically, it is actually too little hydrochloric acid that is the cause of heartburn, rather than too much. Factors such as diet, a badly-functioning thyroid, lifestyle or stress can supress its production, and as we age, our bodies also naturally produce less of it. With this in mind, using antacids can actually exacerbate the issue greatly.[vii]

It is the presence of hydrochloric acid in the stomach that sends a message to the lower oesophageal sphincter that it needs to tighten and close off—without enough hydrochloric acid, it assumes there is little or no food in the stomach to block off, and it relaxes. When it gets this wrong, and your stomach actually is full of food, heartburn is the result. When you think about it, without hydrochloric acid, our food just sits around in our stomach, rotting away without being digested.

Some people use bicarbonate of soda as a heartburn remedy, thinking that it is better for their health than commercial antacids. Though while in many ways it is, when it comes down to it, this remedy still has the effect of lowering the body’s levels of hydrochloric acid, which is just another bandaid solution that can have flow-on effects to your health.

Preventing hydrochloric acid can lead to a plethora of health problems, and disturb the all-important balance of flora in the stomach. Changing the alkalinity of the stomach environment by taking antacids kills good bacteria and creates the perfect environment for bad bacteria, moulds and yeasts to take over. I’m sure you can imagine how this can create a situation in which the patient’s health suffers so much that heartburn would seem tame by comparison!

Since one of the functions of hydrochloric acid is to kill pathogens in our food, eliminating it makes us more susceptible to food poisoning—and since another of its functions is to release the nutrients from our food, if we do not have adequate amounts, this could ultimately lead us to experience malnutrition!

In addition, many big-name antacid brands contain aluminium hydroxide. We should be striving to avoid this at all costs, since the link between aluminium and neurological diseases such as Alzheimer’s is widely recognised.

As you can see, although antacids are readily available from the chemist or supermarkets without the need for a prescription, the hazards that they present to your health are one of the pharmaceutical company’s best kept secrets, and one that gains them big bucks at the expense of your wellbeing.

Here’s how you can solve this problem naturally!

This information alone isn’t very helpful if you are one of the millions who suffers from heartburn, though, as often it can be so painful and embarrassing that sufferers will do ANYTHING to gain some relief! Well the good news is, there are ways of treating this condition completely NATURALLY—ways that get to the root of the problem, rather than simply masking the symptoms.

What you eat and how you eat it:

Most natural practitioners, and even many mainstream physicians, are in agreement that diet is the first step when it comes to natural treatment of heartburn and acid reflux.

Not only is it your choice of food important—and we’ll get back to that later—but just as important is how you eat it. You should chew your food slowly and thoroughly. In some cases heartburn can be caused by the stomach containing too much food, which then creates pressure and causes some of it to rise up, pushing past the lower oesophageal sphincter. By chewing slowly, you give your food a better opportunity to digest and prevent this happening. It also means that the food is more broken-down when it arrives at the stomach, so that digestion can take place with less hydrochloric acid.

Ensuring that you don’t over-indulge is also important—it is better to eat smaller meals more-regularly than fewer big meals, throughout the day. In fact, it is recommended that when you feel 80% full, you stop eating in order to prevent heartburn.[viii] Since it takes a while—some estimate around 20 minutes[ix]—for the stomach to send a message to the brain to tell it that it is full, this is yet another reason to ensure you are eating slowly.

While we all like to have a drink with our food to aid digestion, this actually dilutes our hydrochloric acid, making it less-effective and increasing the likelihood of us experiencing heartburn. For this reason, avoid drinking too much liquid for 45 minutes either side of your meal.

Lastly, avoid eating 3-4 hours before bed, as lying down on a full stomach increases the chances of food and hydrochloric acid rising up above the lower oesophageal sphincter, simply due to gravity.

Cut out the dairy and gluten:

Foods that contain gluten, along with dairy products, are commonly thought to trigger heartburn. It is recommended that you try removing these food types from your diet for around 6 weeks to see whether you experience any relief. These are examples of foods that are difficult for our stomachs to break down, so in order to deal with them, the stomach produces more hydrochloric acid, and the liver releases more bile.

This means that in many cases, after a large meal of these food types, our stomachs contain a large amount of hydrochloric acid, along with parts of undigested food. Not only can this contribute to heartburn, but also conditions such as gastritis, as our stomach lining becomes irritated, and can ultimately cause damage to the colon too.

Likewise, avoiding genetically-modified foods, which we should do in any case, and trying to eat organically can help put an end to heartburn in a matter of weeks for many people. Eating a diet dense in plant matter, and cutting out heavy and fatty foods such as red meats can also assist in easing heartburn symptoms.

As well as watching what foods set off your heartburn, keep in mind that certain drinks such as alcohol and coffee can trigger it.

An all-natural digestion tonic:

In order to increase the levels of hydrochloric acid in the stomach, mix equal parts of honey and raw, unfiltered apple cider vinegar. Take 2 tablespoons of this in a glass of water 3 times a day, 45 minutes before eating.

The underestimated heartburn solution:

When it comes to finding a solution to heartburn, spicy foods may be the last thing that comes to mind—just ask any pregnant woman! However, the fact is that many people have actually used cayenne to put an end to their heartburn, since, like apple cider vinegar and honey, it actually helps the body to increase its production of hydrochloric acid. Cayenne can be taken in a range of forms—tincture, capsules, powder form or fresh. It can be taken with water, or added to meals. If taking cayenne just with water, though, ensure you consume some food beforehand, to provide a buffer between it and your stomach and to minimise the burning sensation felt. If you are not used to taking it, begin with small amounts and work your way up.

Relax…

Avoiding stress where possible is important, since one of the body’s many responses to stress hormones is to lower the amount of hydrochloric acid secreted. Avoid eating on the run or when upset. Take a deep breath before your meal, and calm yourself. Taking herbs such as valerian or ginseng[x][xi], to calm yourself and lower stress levels is another way of helping in this regard.

Herbs such as peppermint, cinnamon, ginger, aloe, liquorice, lavender or marshmallow also calm, promote digestion and help to relieve pain. These can be used as an alternative to antacids, and are an effective way of aiding digestion. They can be taken as a tea, tincture, in a capsule, or fresh.

The most effective all-round digestion formula:

Ginger, peppermint and fennel are a match made in digestion heaven. All of these herbs contain essential oils which, even according to mainstream medicine, are effective calmatives. They perform the function of stimulating digestion and relaxing the stomach, which simultaneously encourages the digestion of food and relieves gas. This Aussie Herb Shop digestion tincture can be used for a range of digestion-related issues, from putting an end to embarrassing indigestion and gas, to eliminating travel sickness and even freshening breath!

What’s more, unlike antacids, this tincture is all natural, and works with your body, rather than against it. It gets to the root of the problem, rather than merely masking the side-effects, which can make the problem worse in the long term. This combination of herbs DOES NOT reduce your hydrochloric acid production, which can lead to a plethora of other health problems, but instead encourages the body to create a calming environment in your stomach.

Keep a bottle by your bedside for those times you wake in the middle of the night with all sorts of digestion issues and heartburn. Keep some in your purse for when you eat out and can feel that heavy meal just sitting there in your stomach. With the alcohol removed, this formula is even wonderful for relieving colic symptoms in babies!

This formula stops bloating, gas and heartburn almost instantly. Taking 3 droppers will offer quick relief of symptoms. It can be taken alone or in some water. It is effective when taken both before and after a meal, and before bedtime.

It sounds unbelievable, but this simple formula has the power to:

  • stimulate digestion
  • relax the stomach
  • relieve gas
  • end indigestion
  • ease travel sickness symptoms
  • freshen breath
  • get to the root of the problem

Spring-Clean the colon and liver!

Doing a 5-day colon detox a few times a year is always a good idea. If you are suffering from digestive issues, however, it is even more important. This 5-day colon detox will clean out your entire gastrointestinal tract. While you may not think heartburn can be caused by issues of the colon, it most certainly can. After all, the colon is part of the digestive system.

If you are suffering from digestion issues or heartburn, it is also a good idea to follow the 5-day colon detox with the 5-day liver detox. This program flushes out and cleans the liver and gallbladder, which is also an important component of the digestive system.

Recipe for slippery elm gruel:

Slippery elm, particularly in the form of slippery elm gruel, is another herb that soothes the stomach and oesophageal lining. To make slippery elm gruel, place 1 tablespoon of slippery elm bark in a bowl, and slowly add in ½ to ¾ cup of boiling water, stirring to form a paste. Add a little more water as needed to thin out the mixture so it is a similar consistency to porridge. Adding herbs such as cinnamon, ginger, liquorice or nutmeg or even a little honey for flavour can help make this digestive aid even tastier and more effective! This mixture is highly nutritious and is perfect for those recovering from illness, who are unable to keep other foods down.

Good bacteria are your friends!

Establishing a good balance of the stomach flora is also important when it comes to digestive health and eliminating heartburn naturally. We want to minimise the bad bacteria, moulds and yeasts finding a home in your stomach, and replace them with good bacteria. Commercial probiotics are overpriced and many only contain only a few strains of good bacteria compared to naturally-occurring probiotics that you can make yourself or buy cheaply. There are many different sources of probiotics, including kefir, kimchi, kombucha, sauerkraut, miso or tempeh (ensuring the soy used for this is not GM) that can help to restore the gut balance. As well as helping your heartburn to disappear, adding these to your diet can aid your overall health.

Enzymes help, too:

Enzymes help to digest the foods you have consumed. If using a commercial enzyme supplement, ensure that it is all-natural and plant-based. Papaya is one of the best sources, and is included in many commercially-available enzyme tablets. This can be eaten fresh, or can be made into a tea and drunk after a meal to help break down your food.

As you can see, there are many natural alternatives to antacids that are highly effective at preventing heartburn. While taking an antacid may be quicker and more convenient in many ways, your health will thank you for it in the long-run if you take the time to seek natural solutions to this all-too-common problem.

[i] http://www.heartburn.com.au/

[ii] http://drugtopics.modernmedicine.com/drug-topics/news/modernmedicine/modern-medicine-feature-articles/antacid-sales-top-10-billion-annual?page=full

[iii] http://www.greenmedinfo.com/blog/how-go-beyond-heartburn-medication

[iv] http://www.webmd.com/drugs/2/drug-76860-769/antacid-oral/aluminum-magnesiumantacid-simethicone-oral/details#side-effects

[v] http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/722442

[vi] http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-1197979/Heartburn-pills-wrecked-life-How-antacids-effects.html

[vii] http://www.greenmedinfo.com/blog/pharmacy-exposed-most-dangerous-and-over-prescribed-medications?page=1

[viii] http:/+/www.greenmedinfo.com/blog/how-go-beyond-heartburn-medication?page=2

[ix] http://healthyeating.sfgate.com/stomach-full-stop-eating-3080.html

[x] Tachikawa, Eiichi. ‘Proof of the Mysterious Efficacy of Ginseng: Basic and Clinical Trials: Preface’ Journal of Pharmacological Sciences 95. (2004), 139.

[xi] http://www.koreaherald.com/view.php?ud=20131121000695

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