Heartburn, or Acid Reflux, is something I treat often in my NW Calgary Naturopathic Medicine practice. Heartburn can cause significant discomfort in patients, but is a condition that many people silently deal with because they think it is just a minor concern, or they don’ t want to give up their favorite foods (such as coffee, chocolate, tomatoes, or spicy food).
Symptoms of Heartburn can include a feeling of discomfort, warmth, burning, or pain in the upper abdomen, chest, and throat. Sometimes patients won’t have symptoms like that but can have a sour taste in their mouth, a chronic cough, or feeling of irritation in the back of their throat. Dentists can often see signs of Heartburn upon their examination of their patients mouth, even if the patient has no symptoms.
Heartburn is caused by digestive juices (stomach acid) escaping the stomach and travelling back up the esophagus, where it doesn’t belong. This condition is aggravated by eating heavy meals, eating late, lying down too soon after eating, eating high fat/spicy food, pregnancy, and obesity. It can also be aggravated by certain foods such as alcohol, citrus, chocolate, coffee, spicy food, tomatoes, and some other foods that are individual to each patient.
Although very occasional heartburn is ok (although uncomfortable), recurrent heartburn must be addressed to minimize the worsening of symptoms (such as choking on food) and build up of scar tissue in the esophagus, which could over many years, lead to esophageal cancer.
Recurrent heartburn must always be examined by a medical doctor to determine the cause, such as H.pylori, an ulcer, high stomach acid, a hiatal hernia, or anything else.
Naturopathic Medicine also has a lot of options in the treatment of Heartburn. The first goal is to determine the cause of the heartburn and to address it accordingly, and then to heal the inflamed tissue. Keep reading below to see all of the different treatment options!
Food Sensitivity Testing for Heartburn
One of the first things I do for patients that complain of heartburn is a Food Sensitivity Test. This test is done via a finger prick in office, and will determine which foods the patient’s immune system is reacting to. The foods are then eliminated from the diet. I tend to get good results with this test for hearburn. You can read more about Food Sensitivity Testing here.
Herbs for Heartburn
Herbs are a great option for this condition, especially when herbs that soothe and heal the gastrointestinal lining are chosen. These herbs can coat the GI tract lining so foods don’t aggravate it, and allows it to heal. These herbs must be taken away from all medications and supplements by at least 2 hours to prevent decreased absorption of the medications and supplements, and are chosen based on the patients health history and symptoms. You can read more about Botanical Medicine and Herbs here.
Acupuncture for Heartburn
Acupuncture is great for many digestive concerns. Points are chosen to aid in digestion, and also chosen locally on the abdomen. Acupuncture is also great for stress, insomnia, and so many other things that can be linked to hearburn. You can read more about acupuncture here.
Bowen is a technique I use in my patients that don’t like the idea of needles with acupuncture, and I do get good results with it. Along with improving heartburn, patients can experience relaxation and release of tight muscles. You can read more about Bowen therapy here.
Vitamins and Supplements
This is a great option for treating Heartburn, and there are many different choices, from vitamins to aid digestion, decrease inflammation, decrease stress that may be causing heartburn, soothe and heal irritated tissue, and more. These are chosen based on patients health history and symptoms. You can read more about Vitamins and Supplements here.
Diet and Nutrition
Along with avoiding positive food sensitivities, diet changes can be made, for example, less spicy, lower fat food, and avoiding foods commonly linked to heartburn. You can read more about this here.
Lifestyle plays a major role in most health conditions. For example, eating smaller meals more often, with the last meal 3 hours before bedtime, and eating a lighter meal in the evening. Weight loss could help if indicated, as well as stress management techniques, not eating on the go, eating healthier foods, exercise, and so much more. These changes are tailored to the patients lifestyle.
As you can see, there are so many things Naturopathic Medicine has to offer a patient suffering from recurrent Heartburn. Please don’t hesitate to contact me at my clinic if you have any questions or to determine if Naturopathic Medicine could help you!
Naturopathic Vitality Acupuncture and Wellness Clinic
205-5403 Crowchild Trail NW, Calgary, AB