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Natural Remedies for Heartburn

Many of the rich, spicy and greasy foods that we put into our bodies taste great at the time, but the discomfort and burning sensations that we experience in the chest afterwards may not be worth the indulgences of the moment. 

Heartburn is the result of the stomach acids reacting to certain foods during digestion.      It occurs when a small amount of stomach acid is forced up the unprotected Oesophagus and the chemical burn causes pain.  The Oesophagus is not protected against powerful digestive juices like the stomach but does have a sphincter muscle near the stomach which works as a one- way valve.  If this muscle becomes weak or overwhelmed then the stomach contents can be forced back up the Oesophagus and cause burning.  The entire Oesophagus from the vocal cords to the stomach may be affected by Heartburn pain. 
Some of the symptoms of Heartburn include:
* Burning in the throat area
* Sour or bitter taste in the mouth
* A burning feeling in the chest that occurs after eating, lasting
            from a few minutes to several hours.
* The symptoms get worse when eating.
* Belching.
* Coughing.
* Taking an Antacid provides relief.

Natural Remedies for Heartburn: 

Herbal Remedies for Heartburn

• Yarrow (Achillea millefolium) -  The leaves of the herb can be infused in water and drunk as a tea twice a day, morning and evening to relieve indigestion and Heartburn.  Pour 250ml of hot water over 1 teaspoon of the herb and leave to cool.  
• Drink Aloe Vera juice to heal the intestinal tract.
• Many find that taking fresh ginger with a meal helps to reduce discomfort and indigestion.  Fresh ginger can also be grated or sliced and added to hot water and drunk as a tea during the day. 
• Drink Chamomile tea after meals to relieve Oesophageal irritation. 
• Other herbal teas that help to relieve Heartburn and soothe the symptoms are Peppermint and Green Tea. 

Nutritional Guidance for Heartburn

• Take note of the specific foods that cause Heartburn and avoid them in the future. 
• Drink a large glass of water at the first sign of Heartburn.  It may help if the symptoms are not too strong.
• Keep stimulants like tea, coffee and chocolate to a minimum and avoid sugar and acidic drinks as often as possible. 
• Eat foods that are high in Zinc like fish, seafood and pumpkin seeds to help normalize the stomach acid.
• Avoid fatty or spicy foods, milk, cheese and refined carbohydrates. 
• Foods rich in Beta-carotene like carrots, sweet potato, apricot and spinach will help to strengthen the lining tissues. 

Herbal Wisdom from Africa

Some of the Traditional Herbs that can be used for treating Heartburn are:

* Umnunamabele
Description: A small multi-branched tree with grey bark and thick horns, greenish-white flowers. Shiny black seeds are exposed when the umnungamabele’s orange-brown parts split open.  The leaves, bark, root and fruit are used medicinally.
Uses: Heartburn, Colic, Stomach ache and fever, Toothache, Mouthwash,  Epilepsy.

*          Umganu
Description: A single stemmed, medium sized tree with mottled, flaky bark.  Its flowers are tiny with yellow petals and red sepals.  The umgani bears round, flattened fruit late summer-mid winter, which is high in Vitamin C.
The leaves, bark and root are used medicinally.
Uses: Heartburn, General stomach ailments, Indigestion, Dysentry, Diarrhoea,   
Diabetes,  Malaria and as a general tonic.

It is important to understand the difference between severe heartburn pain and a heart attack pain.  The heartburn pain is localized in the centre of the chest and is sharp and the heart attach pain radiate through the back and down the arm and is a dull pain, but it is advisable to visit a Doctor is there is any doubt.  

For more information please contact Yvonne at yvonne@spiritualworld.co.za or visit www.spiritualworld.co.za

Mortimore, Denise.  The Complete Illustrated Guide to Vitamins and Minerals.  Element, 2001.