Anne-Louise Smallen, Lic. Acu.
If you often feel a burning sensation behind your breastbone and if your stomach acid rises up to your throat, you might have GERD (Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease). This is not to be ignored as it can scar and weaken your esophagus and cause asthma-like symptoms if the acid goes in your lungs. People with hiatal hernia often experience heartburn.
Chinese medicine offers help on GERD and heartburn. First and foremost, do not eat large meals at night and do not eat after 7 pm. Give yourself plenty of time to digest your meal before going to bed. The Chinese have studied something called the Chinese clock, observing what is the best of time of day for each organ. The spleen and the stomach have their strong time between 7 am and 11 am. This is the best time to eat a large meal. However 7 pm to 11 pm is the weakest time for the spleen and stomach, and eating late and a lot at that time causes indigestion. With a full stomach, when you lay down horizontally at night, your stomach works too hard and the surplus of acid is more likely to go up in the alimentary canal.
Another Chinese diet principle is that each food causes a certain energetic direction in the body and that people who have GERD should avoid foods with an upward direction. So avoid alcohol, caffeine, citrus, vinegar, greasy fried foods, spicy foods, peppermint and spearmint, carbonated beverages and tomato based foods, which all tend to bring up stomach acid.
Pancreatin with bromelain, chewable papaya tablets, and liquid marshmallow roots all can help,and are available at many health food stores. Eating pineapple is helpful. Juicing a fresh raw potato juice and adding the same amount of water is helpful. Drink this two to three times a day. Drinking a glass of juiced raw cabbage mixed with water has the same value.
Over the counter antacids contain sodium, aluminum and other minerals which can cause a serious mineral imbalance. Do not rely on them for long. Long term use of products reducing the production of acid can damage the stomach lining. Sometimes medications such as ibuprofen and certain vitamins also cause heartburn.
Your best strategy is really to take a hard look at your diet and be kind to your stomach.