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Heartburn (Pyrosis, Reflux esophagitis, Gastroesophageal reflux, Hiatal hernia) refers to the burning pain in the center of the chest brought about by a backflow of stomach acid.

It is easily confused with heart disease.


Heartburn may be associated with a heavy, rich or spicy meal, or alcohol. It is often brought on by leaning forward or lying down.

Antacids may relieve the symptoms but are definitely not a cure. Prolonged usage can be problematical as well as covering up a more serious condition, like peptic ulcer.

Paradoxically, while it may seem that there is too much acid , or that the acid is too strong, the opposite may be true, so that low stomach acid levels contribute to the inability to digest large, or rich foods.

The term "hernia" may be the best description since many authorities believe this to be the root cause i.e. the sphincter is weak, or there is a nerve disorder associated with it; or, the stomach has become distorted (possibly extruding through the diaphragm). This may explain how some visceral manipulation procedures are effective.

About 40% of the population is thought to suffer such a hernia, although most are asymptomatic.

Symptoms may also be brought on by physical motionslike running, or riding a horse. However, upper gastrointestinal symptoms are not initiated, orcaused by, running alone.

Radiation exposure can damage the esophagus.

Signs & Symptoms

Basically, there is frequent distress associated with meals or drinks, especially at night, continuing into the night.

The sufferer may institute a selective diet, removing foods which appear to cause distress, avoiding large meals etc. On the other hand, in an effort to share regular meals with the family, the sufferer may, instead, resort to antacids, chronically.

Nutritional Supplements

Structure & Function: Intestinal Health

If the problem is low stomach acidity (hypoacidity), so that digestion is impaired, a supplement of betaine hydrochloride would be indicated.

Generally, the problem is hyperacidity, so dietary interventions to reduce gastric acidity should be instituted. Foods may also be selected to enhance digestion.

General Supplements

Aloe Vera Products*
Betaine hydrochloride**
Digestive Enzymes*

* Please refer to the respective topic for specific nutrient amounts.

** HCl in cases of hypochlorhydria.


All amounts are in addition to those supplements having a Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA). Due to individual needs, one must always be aware of a possible undetermined effect when taking nutritional supplements. If any disturbances from the use of a particular supplement should occur, stop its use immediately and seek the care of a qualified health care professional.

Dietary Considerations

There are so many dietary restrictions that sufferers may wish to seek a physical cure, in the form of visceral manipulation first, as the easiest option.

Avoid -
        heavy meals,
        fatty foods,
        spicy foods,
        late dinners,
        orange juice,
        tomato and tomato products.

Unfortunately, the explanations are not identical, relating to gastric acid, as one might expect; so we must treat each one separately.

Large meals, especially with fatty and spicy foods, inhibit the lower esophageal sphincter.

Early dinner has been shown to reduce nocturnal gastric acidity.

Alcohol, chocolate, coffee, peppermint and spearmint relax the lower esophageal sphincter.

Juices like orange and tomato, are acidic, which may irritate the esophageal mucosa.

Sugar and tea seem to increase gastric acid secretion. (If they help, the condition is hypacidity!)

Milk, like peppermint, is often used to calm the stomach. However, milk's neutralizing effect is only temporary, followed by a rise in acid secretion.

Homeopathic Remedy

Chalky tongueAntimonium crudum
Sweet cravingArgentum nitricum tinct.
Worse at nightArsenicum Album
Aversion to fatsCarbo vegetabilis
Worse in morningNux vomica
Worse before mensesPulsatilla nigricans

Treatment Schedule

Over-the-counter homeopathic remedies may be single strength (of fairly weak potency e.g. 6X ) or a blend of several weaker strengths (6X, 8X, 10X).

This may comprise a single remedy, or several remedies.

Doses are administered on a 3 times daily (tid), between meals,schedule and continued for 3 days.

Liquid preparations usually use 8-10 drops per dose.

Solid preparations are usually 2 or 3 pellets per dose.

Children use 1/2 dose i.e. 1 pellet.

If there is aggravation of the symptoms, stop taking the remedy and consult a homeopath.


Murphy, R. : Homeopathic Medical Repertory. Hahneman Academy, Pagosa Springs, Colorado. 1993.

Murphy, R. : Lotus Materia Medica. Hahneman Academy, Pagosa Springs, Colorado. 1995.

Pert, J.C.: Homeopathy for the Family. The Homoeopathic Development Foundation, London. 1985 edition.

Herbal Approaches


Lemon Balm


Wild Yam

Note: The misdirected use of an herb can produce severely adverse effects, especially in combination with prescription drugs. This Herbal information is for educational purposes and is not intended as a replacement for medical advice.


Hoffmann, D: The New Holistic Herbal. Element, 1983. Third edition 1990.

Aromatherapy - Essential Oils

Bergamot Essence,Chamomile Essence,
Fennel Essence,Juniper Essence,
Lavender Essence,Lemon Essence,
Mandarin Essence,Orange Essence,
Peppermint Essence,Rosemary Essence.

Related Health Conditions

        Duodenal ulcers
        Gastric ulcers
        Peptic ulcers



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