This is the informal name for this stomach complaint whose chief symptom is a burning sensation behind the breastbone. Despite its name, heartburn has nothing to do with the heart. It occurs when stomach acid backs up from the gastrointestinal tract into the esophagus, a process reflected in the medical name for this condition: gastroesophageal reflux. The corrosive stomach acid, used to digest food, irritates the delicate lining of the esophagus and produces the distinctively unpleasant experience of heartburn.
- CALCIUM CARBONATE, a well-established short term remedy for heartburn, is the main ingredient in several popular antacids. Some supplement manufacturers combine calcium carbonate with DGL (see below).
- DEGLYCYRRHIZINATED LICORICE (DGL) is a highly regarded herb used as a demulcent (an agent that soothes and coats mucous membranes) and has been shown to be as effective as the drug cimetidine (Tagamet) in the treatment of peptic ulcer disease. DGL can help restore the vital mucous lining that protects the stomach itself from hydrochloric acid.
- ALOE VERA JUICE. When the esophagus is inflamed by acid reflux, aloe vera juice can provide quick, soothing relief by reducing acid output and soothing and coating the mucous membranes. Aloe vera juice is not the same as the herb aloe, which is a potent laxative.
- DIGESTIVE ENZYMES can be taken with each meal if you’re troubled by frequent indigestion or if food feels “heavy” on your stomach. You may double the recommended dose if you’ve eaten an especially large meal.