The Myth of Heartburn Revealed
The term “heartburn” is a misnomer. The sensation of burning around the diaphragm has nothing to do with the heart. This sensation occurs when stomach acid moves up into the esophagus (it’s supposed to stay in the stomach!) This is a very common complaint in today’s society. Heartburn is often the result of stress, irregular eating schedules and unhealthy food choices.
Imbalances are created in our digestive systems when we overwhelm our bodies with processed foods and stimulants such as coffee and nicotine. Often, individuals take antacids for this condition but they may be causing problems in the future. Taking an antacid will eliminate the acid in your stomach and therefore there is nothing to travel up the esophagus and create pain. BUT WAIT! Stomach acid is needed to properly digest your food. Undigested food that reaches the intestines creates a whole host of other problems such as gas, bloating and food allergies just to name a few. 80% of people that experience “heartburn” or “acid reflux” have this symptom because of NOT ENOUGH ACID in their stomach. Yup, you read that right. Having the right amount of acid in your stomach is the signal for the sphincter between your esophagus and your stomach to remain closed while you are digesting your food so nothing can go backup. If you are lacking enough digestive juices, the sphincter stays open and Voila! Heartburn!
Little Things, Big Results
Treating heartburn naturally requires a holistic approach addressing lifestyle,emotional factors and eating habits. Here are a few things you can do on your own to decrease your symptom: *Eat in a relaxed environment - This means NOT in front of the TV or while driving. *Chew your food properly - The digestive process starts in the mouth with saliva. *Drinking fluids with meals dilutes digestive enzymes - This means you should be drinking your fluids between meals.
*Stay upright for 2 hours after you eat.
*Keep your digestive processes clean by avoiding chemicals, preservatives, additives and colorings.
There are some pathological conditions that can lead to heartburn that should be ruled out before any therapy is started. Various supplements can help soothe heartburn but should be undertaken on an individual basis with the help of your Naturopathic Doctor.
HOW NATUROPATHIC MEDICINE CAN HELP
The goal of Naturopathic Medicine is to restore the body to a natural healthy state. The best treatments are not offered alone, but in a blend that is appropriate for the individual seeking help. Nutrition, supplements, herbal medicine, traditional Chinese medicine including acupuncture, and homeopathy are some of
the effective modalities used in this individualized approach.
Nutrition and supplements are beneficial in supporting the body when trying to get to a point of balance. From a nutritional standpoint, it is important to eat primarily a whole foods diet to aid in the digestive process. There may be a period of time when certain vitamins and minerals will need to be supplemented to correct deficiencies when digestion is not optimal. Many herbs have also been used to optimize digestion. Fennel has been used as a traditional digestive and heartburn aid for quite some time, which may explain why Indian restaurants hand it out like candy when you're done with one of those curry platters. Fennel tea is a good place to start for natural heartburn relief. (See Fennel Recipe below)
The use of Traditional Acupuncture as a treatment has been used for over 4000 years. Traditional Acupuncture works on the theory that networks of energy (“chi”), flow through the body along natural pathways, and disease grows when that energy is out of balance or blocked. By inserting needles at precise positions along these pathways, the body's natural flow of energy is stimulated, restoring balance. Traditional Acupuncture is used in this case to balance the way the body digests food.
Homeopathy uses minute quantities of a substance to stimulate the body to begin healing itself. This therapy is helpful in decreasing the symptom of heartburn. It will also help to balance the amount of digestive enzymes in the stomach.
Food Sensitivities are another important avenue to consider when dealing with heartburn. Some people are unable to digest certain foods because their bodies do not make the enzymes required to do this. Identifying the offending foods will go a long way in the healing process.
Applied Kinesiology is a noninvasive method of finding the offending foods. Muscle groups are tested in the presence of suspected foods or substances. Weakness indicates an incompatibility with the food. Be aware that not all NDs are trained in this method.
There are many ways to improve the function of the digestive system and deal with heartburn. What works for one person may not work for the other. It is important to decide on a plan of action and work with various therapies as necessary for your success. See a licensed Naturopathic Doctor to get your best plan of action and get your health back on track.
Braised Fennel Recipe
INGREDIENTS -7 tbsp extra virgin olive oil -4 fresh fennel bulbs (the stalks removed, and then each cut lengthwise into 6 wedges, fronds reserved) -1/3 cup chopped shallots -2 tbsp fresh lemon juice -Zest of 1lemon -2 tbsp chopped fresh parsley -3 garlic cloves, minced
Preheat oven to 400°F
Heat 4 tbsp oil in large skillet over med-high heat. Add fennel. Sauté until deep golden brown on all sides, about 3 minutes per side.
Transfer to 11x7x2 inch glass baking dish.
In a medium bowl, add the lemon juice. Slowly whisk in 3 tablespoons of olive oil. Add the shallots, lemon zest, garlic and parsley. Drizzle mixture over fennel. Cover dish with foil and bake 30 minutes.
Remove foil and bake until fennel is tender and shallots begin to brown, about 20 minutes longer. Makes 8 servings.