Herb Basics: Natural Heartburn Relief

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The unpleasant sensation of heartburn (also known as gastroesophageal reflux disease) is caused by the backing up of stomach acid into the esophagus. This can be caused by a relaxed or damaged valve between the esophagus and the stomach.

Most people experience occasional heartburn from eating spicy foods. Problems arise, however, when the condition becomes chronic. The lining of the esophagus is not protected from the acid the way the stomach is and can become inflamed, especially with continued irritation over time.

Two supplements may help relieve heartburn. First, try deglycyrrhizinated licorice root extract (DGL), from Glycyrrhiza glabra. This can help reduce inflammation and soothe tissues. This type of licorice is preferable, because it has less potential for causing high blood pressure than other licorice preparations. Follow manufacturer’s instructions for DGL capsules or chewable tablets.

You may also find relief from calcium carbonate supplements, which work as antacid lozenges. Take 600 to 1,200 mg per day.

Avoiding spicy foods is an obvious solution, but many other foods can cause heartburn. These include fried foods, high-fat foods, chocolate, alcohol, orange juice, tomato sauce, and coffee, tea, and carbonated sodas.

Source: Hobbs, Christopher and Elson Haas, M.D. Vitamins for Dummies. Foster City, California: IDG, 1999.