Do You Have Occasional Heartburn?
60% of adults in America will experience symptoms associated with heartburn over the next 12 months. Understanding how this develops along with strategies to resolve it are valuable tools to keep in your health toolbox.
Interestingly, feelings of indigestion and occasional heartburn can be caused by either too much or too little digestive acid!
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Step 1. Quiz: Are You Producing the Correct Amount of Stomach Acid?
- Before a meal, take ½ tsp baking soda in 8 oz water. If you feel relief, you may be producing too much acid.
- Before a meal, take 1 Tbs apple cider vinegar with 8 oz water. If you feel relief, you may be producing too little acid.
Step 2. Understand the Cause
- Constipation or loose stools alter the lining of the intestinal tract, compromising its optimal function. This results in undigested toxins reabsorbing from the intestines into the liver through what is called the enteric cycle. The liver can become congested, which can thicken or congest bile in the gallbladder with what is called bile sludge. Bile, among other actions, buffers stomach acid. If bile becomes thick or congested, acid in the stomach will linger as it waits for adequate bile flow to buffer it. If bile production never reaches the needed levels to buffer stomach acid, acid may stay in the stomach too long, which can eventually cause occasional heartburn (this is the excess acid type).
- If this problem is not corrected, lack of bile flow will cause irritation in the stomach and the stomach will eventually decrease acid production in an attempt to protect its lining. Too little acid leads to proliferation of harmful microbes, like H. pylori, which can irritate the stomach. This lack of stomach acid may also result in discomfort due to poor digestion and stomach lining irritation. It will also affect ability to digest foods that need acid to be digested properly—such as wheat and dairy!
Step 3. Address Issue with Soothing Strategies
For those with excess stomach acid
Increase bile flow with:
Foods: Cooked beets, cooked artichokes, cooked celery, cooked leafy greens, and olive oil with lemon
Teas: Fenugreek, fennel, cumin, coriander
Herbs: Brahmi, amalaki, avipattikar churna (LifeSpa’s Cool Digest formula), Slippery Elm Prebiotic, and Gut Revival.
For those with too little stomach acid
Increase stomach acid production with:
Foods: Chia seeds, bananas, cooked greens, and cooked root veggies
Teas: Cardamom and peppermint
Herbs: Ginger, coriander, cumin, fennel, and cardamom, all together with meals. These five spices make up LifeSpa’s Gentle Digest formula.
For those with either excess or insufficient stomach acid (these work for both)
Apply Downward Stomach Pressure:
Acid that lingers in the stomach can cause significant upward pressure, pushing the stomach against the diaphragm. This pressure can cause the stomach to stick to the underside of the diaphragm, causing the stomach to malfunction.
If this gets really bad, it can cause a medical condition called hiatal hernia, but years before this, numerous digestive issues, such as occasional heartburn, can result. The stomach will hold excess acid and not contract fully because it is pushed up against the diaphragm.
Massage the stomach/diaphragm area using a technique called “Stomach Pulling.” Literally pull the stomach away from the diaphragm with your thumb. Check out the article and video where I demonstrate the technique: Cool Your Digestion: Self-Massage Technique.
>>> Learn more in my article and video series, Cool Your Digestion.
Important Note: While most of us will suffer from occasional heartburn as some point in our lives, you should make an appointment with your primary care physician if any of the following are true:
Your heartburn feels more severe or painful than normal
You have a persistent cough that won’t go away
Your heartburn occurs several times a week for more than two weeks
You’ve been taking OTC medications for occasional heartburn for an extended time
You develop a difficulty swallowing (dysphagia)