What is heartburn?
Despite its name, heartburn doesn’t affect the heart. Heartburn is a burning sensation in the back of the throat and/or in the upper chest, along with a sour or bitter taste in the throat and mouth. It usually occurs after eating a big meal or while lying down. The feeling can last for a few minutes or a few hours. Heartburn is caused by excessive flow of gastric contents back into the oesophagus. The acidic gastric contents, when present in large amounts, irritate the oesophagus and cause the symptoms of heartburn. Medical conditions, such like hiatus hernia, gastritis, peptic ulcers etc can also cause a burning sensation in the upper digestive tract. Pregnancy, stress and certain foods can also make heartburn worse. Some medical drugs, such like NSAIDs (Ibuprofen, Aspirin etc), high blood pressure tablets ( esp. Calcium antagonists), osteoporosis drugs, anti-anxiety drugs (Diazepam, Lorazepam), tricyclic antidepressants (i.e. Amitriptyline) and antibiotics can cause heartburn. Foods that trigger heartburn: black pepper, garlic, raw onions, tomatoes & spicy foods, chocolate, citrus fruits & products, alcohol, coffee and caffeinated drinks, and carbonated drinks.
Conventional treatment include drugs that either neutralise stomach acid, reduce acid production or medication that block acid production. Needless to say that these chemical drugs often carry unwanted side-effects that often call for drugs to counter-act these side-effects. However, the correct homeopathic remedy may help to ease the symptoms of heartburn in a ‘first aid way’. Constitutional treatment is essential as it addresses the causes of heartburn, especially taking psychological factors into consideration.
Here are some homeopathic remedies that may help to ease symptoms of heartburn:
Arsenicum album: Heartburn with burning pains felt in the stomach with food backing up into the oesophagus. Belching and gulping up of acid and bitter substances which seem to excoriate the throat. Burning pains all the way up to the throat. Severe, watery, burning, yellow diarrhoea can occur. Many of the symptoms will feel better while drinking hot drinks like tea, or by applying hot applications, like a heating pad. They may be thirsty for small, frequent sips of cold water. Their mental state is anxious, restless and fearful of being left alone.
Carbo vegetabilis: The individual needing Carbo veg has heartburn characterised by belching, bloating, heaviness in the stomach and chest and distress from eating simple, plain foods. The person may have an aversion to foods like meats, milk and fats. A very common characteristic of the individual needing this remedy is that they have a great desire for fresh air or for being fanned during attacks. The heartburn creates burning pains extending from the stomach toward the back along spine and the patient experiences temporary relief from these symptoms during belching. The belching leaves a rancid, sour or putrid taste in the mouth.
Magnesia carbonica: The person needing this remedy has a sensation of emptiness in the stomach. Sour eructations and heartburn from cabbage, potatoes, greasy food or milk. Sour belching and vomiting of bitter matter. Eructations can taste like rotten eggs. There is a craving for acidic or sour drinks.
Natrum phosphoricum: The keynote of this Schuessler salt is excess of acidity. There is an emptiness in the stomach and abdomen, even in the chest, worse after eating. Heaviness and pressure in epigastrium. Hyper-acidity of the stomach causes heartburn. Sour belching often followed by vomiting of sour matter. Weak mental state. The person may appear confused.
Nux vomica: Nux vomica is indicated when the heartburn comes from overeating, too much alcohol or other stimulants such like coffee. The abdomen is bloated and there is a heavy sensation in the stomach. Sour and bitter taste in throat from heartburn. There can be nausea and vomiting with much retching. Their mental state is anxious and irritable.
Phosphorus: The person needing Phosphorus for heartburn will complain about burning pains felt in the abdomen, bloating and a feeling of fullness accompanied by great thirst for icy cold drinks, which are vomited back up shortly after becoming warm in the stomach. Belching and vomiting of undigested food are characteristic of the person needing Phosphorus. The person is mild-mannered, and seeks company and affection.
Pulsatilla: The heartburn comes on at different times of the day and after eating various kinds of foods, especially rich, greasy ones. Thirstless. Burps have a sour, bitter taste. Stomach and abdomen feel empty, with gurgling and rumbling & pressing pains. All symptoms are better in the fresh air. The individual’s personality is sweet, gentle, whiny and tearful. They are afraid of being alone and desire sympathy.
Sulphur: There is a burning and heavy sensation in the stomach with great acidity. There is often a history of dyspepsia. The over-acidity in the stomach comes from overeating and over-drinking. There is much rumbling and gurgling in the abdomen. The person is often absent-minded, which is often due to an over-active mind.
Avoid foods that make heartburn worse, such like chocolate, tomatoes, spicy food, coffee and carbonated drinks, alcohol, citrus fruits etc. Include low acid foods in your meals, such like melons and bananas, oatmeal, wholegrain bread, brown rice , couscous, green veggies (broccoli, asparagus, green beans, celery, and cauliflower are all low in acid), potatoes and other root veggies (but no onions!), and fish (grilled, poached and baked, just not fried). You can’t tell how acidic a food is by looking at it. It’s not on the nutrition label either. But you can research a food’s pH, which is a score of its acid content. The lower the pH number, the higher the acid — lemon juice has a pH of 2.0. If you aim for foods with a pH of 5 or above, you may have fewer symptoms. You can find the pH level of foods on some websites and in low-acid diet cookbooks.
Disclaimer: This article is for educational purposes only and not intended to replace the advice of your physician or health care provider. First aid situations may require medical or hospital care. Do not use this article as a means to diagnose a health condition. Speak to your doctor if you think that your condition may be serious, before discontinuing any medication that has been prescribed for you, or before starting any new treatment.
If you cannot decide which homeopathic remedy to select or if your heartburn lingers then please book an appointment for a full consultation with a professional homeopath.