Before you reach for the antacids to deal with troublesome heartburn, you might want to consider simply changing your eating habits. Most people are aware that eating too quickly or eating certain foods can trigger heartburn, yet few people are willing to change how and what they eat. Instead, they chow down as usual and then turn to their heartburn medication for relief. However, this is not the best way to tackle heartburn or indigestion, and, in fact, some of the very medications that claim to ease heartburn may actually make things worse.
Heartburn occurs when foods mix with acid to form a liquid that rises into the esophagus, causing chest pain or a burning sensation in the stomach. Antacids effectively "block" stomach acid, but at the same time, they block the absorption of nutrients and can hinder proper digestion, possibly making indigestion worse, according to Phyllis A. and James F. Balch in "Prescription For Nutritional Healing." In fact, the millions of Americans who take antacids to treat their heartburn are actually making a big mistake, according to Pamela Sky Jeanne, a naturopathic doctor from Oregeon. "One of the worst things you can do for your health is take an antacid," Jeanne says in Bill Gottlieb's "Alternative Cures." Jeanne explains, "That's because, in order to break down proteins into amino acids that are usable by the body, you must have sufficient hydrochloric acid in your stomach."
Besides interfering with digestion and nutrient absorption, both prescription and over-the-counter heartburn medications can have startling side effects. According to Phyllis and James Balch, many popular antacids contain aluminum compounds, which can cause constipation; magnesium compounds, which can cause diarrhea; sodium bicarbonate, which can cause gas and bloating; and calcium bicarbonate, which can actually cause the stomach to create more acid than usual once the antacid wears off.
Other heartburn medications may have more serious side effects. In "Graedons' Best Medicine," by Joe Graedon and Dr. Teresa Graedon, there is an account of a woman whose doctor prescribed her Reglan and Pepcid for her severe heartburn. Within days after she started taking the drugs, she began experiencing muscle spasms in her neck and shoulders, and a few weeks later she began experiencing uncontrollable muscle twitching, insomnia, hallucinations and even thoughts of suicide. When doctors could not reverse these symptoms with other prescription drugs, they became so severe that the patient temporarily checked herself into a psychiatric ward temporarily, not realizing at the time that she was having an adverse reaction to her heartburn medications.
Heartburn medicines are far from completely safe, and in some cases, they can even be deadly. Gottlieb writes, "A popular heartburn drug, used by more than 30 million people since 1993, has caused 70 deaths and 200 other incidents of heart problems, and, says the government; it should be used 'only as a last resort.'"
So, what is the first resort in heartburn treatment? Aim to prevent it in the first place, and for that, a change in eating habits is a good place to start. Many foods have a reputation for causing heartburn, including onions, garlic, hot and spicy foods, fatty or greasy foods, fried foods and highly acidic foods, like tomatoes and citrus. Chocolate and coffee are also common culprits. In addition, the way you eat is sometimes just as important as what you eat. People who eat especially quickly, who lay down after a big meal or who simply eat too much, are often more prone to heartburn. When you eat too much too fast, without chewing well, the stomach must produce more acid to break down food, creating problems for you down the line. Therefore, in addition to paying attention to the types of foods you eat, and avoiding those that trigger heartburn, you must also be aware of portion size and how quickly you eat.
If you do start to feel heartburn coming on, one of the first things you should do is drink water. F. Batmanghelidj in "Water for Health Healing" writes that heartburn really begins as just "thirst pains" -- a signal of a water shortage in the body. Batmanghelidj suggests treating this pain with water rather than medication.
Finally, it is important to bear in mind that it is not just food choices that can contribute to heartburn. Stress can also be a factor, as well as any prescription or over-the-counter drug you might be taking. This may surprise some people, but the drugs you take can lead to indigestion and heartburn. Aspirin, for example, has been shown to contribute to heartburn when taken in high doses, as has Ibuprofen. Anti-inflammatory drugs often cause heartburn in addition to more serious problems, such as death from sudden gastric hemorrhage. Certain calcium-channel blocking drugs, asthma drugs, beta-blocking drugs used to lower blood pressure and anticholinergics used to treat Parkinson's Disease may also cause heartburn, as can birth control pills, diazepam, nicotine, nitroglycerine, progesterone, provera and theophylline.
With the number of people eating poor diets and taking multiple prescription drugs in this country, it is no wonder, according to statistics given by Drs. Marc R. and Michael R. Rose in "Save Your Sight," that more than half of all people over 40 experience heartburn once a month., according to Drs. Marc R. and Michael R. Rose in Save Your Sight. If you frequently suffer from heartburn, it may be time to reevaluate what's in your diet or what's in your medicine cabinet. Talk to your doctor about how you can reduce your risk just by changing your lifestyle.
The experts speak on heartburn
The cause of many heartburn cases is simply poor eating habits. What you eat and the medicines you take directly affect your digestive system. For instance, eating too much fat and red meat and not enough fruits and vegetables can easily cause acid reflux. Taking antibiotics may wipe out both good and bad bacteria, leading to indigestion and other problems. And constantly popping antacids
for heartburn can backfire by prompting your body to make more acid. Why not get to the root of your heartburn — what you are or aren't eating. If your doctor has ruled out disease, try healing your heartburn and indigestion with nutrition.
Eat and Heal by the Editors of FC&A Medical Publishing, page 206
Heartburn is usually caused by the contents of the stomach, which are acidic, welling up into the esophagus (the tube that leads from the mouth to the stomach). The correct medical term for this is gastroesophageal reflux. There is a narrow opening between the esophagus and the stomach that should prevent the stomach contents moving back into the esophagus—this is called the esophageal sphincter. Several foods are known to widen the esophageal sphincter and so contribute to the problem of heartburn. These include peppermint and spearmint, alcohol, coffee, and chocolate. Fatty meals also increase the amount of reflux from the stomach. Avoiding all these foods may help substantially with heartburn. You could also eliminate foods that stimulate the stomach lining to produce acid and so make the stomach contents more acidic. These include tea and milk (ironically enough—its usefulness in heartburn is something of a myth, as it neutralizes the acidity only temporarily, then stimulates a surge in acid production). Coffee, chocolate, and alcohol also stimulate acid production, but these should be avoided anyway. Finally, foods that directly irritate the esophagus on their way down to the stomach (notably chile and other hot spices; orange, lemon, and grapefruit juices; and concentrated tomato products) should be avoided if symptoms persist. Not eating too late in the evening may also be helpful.
Food allergies and Food Intolerance by Jonathan Brostoff MD and Linda Gamlin, page 151
When improperly chewed food reaches the stomach, excess stomach acid is secreted to break down oversized food particles. This subjects the inner linings of the stomach and intestinal tract to high levels of acid, which is extremely corrosive and, over time, damaging. This can aggravate digestive problems, causing everything from indigestion and heartburn to ulcers.
Complete Encyclopedia Of Natural Healing by Gary Null PhD, page 156
Indigestion may be triggered by overeating the wrong foods quickly without chewing, fatty greasy foods, chocolate, coffee, beer or wine (spurs stomach acid); can irritate the esophagus for heartburn.
Anti-Aging Manual by Joseph B Marion, page 10
According to Dr. James Breneman, past president of the American College of Allergists, persistent heartburn from a particular food is a reliable symptom of allergy to that food. He states that addiction to antacids is a common finding in the medical history of food-allergy patients. Food allergies stimulate histamine release, which stimulates stomach-acid secretion. Most common offenders are cow's-milk products, wheat, eggs, corn, beef, soy, and some citrus fruits.
Healthy Digestion the Natural Way by Dr Lindsey Berkson, page 60
Spicy foods, especially those made with hot peppers or pepper powders, contain corrosive acids that directly irritate the stomach lining and contribute to heartburn.
Doctors Complete Guide Vitamins Minerals by Mary D Eades MD, page 363
In particular, consuming too much fatty and greasy foods often triggers heartburn because these foods require more time, and stomach acid, to digest than do fresh vegetables.
Off The Shelf Natural Health How To Use Herbs And Nutrients To Stay Well By Mark Mayell, page 339
You may also get heartburn if you eat too fast or if you decide to stretch out for a catnap after your meal. If you gobble your food without chewing it thoroughly, your stomach has to produce more acid to break down the food particles. And lying down too soon after a meal can create pressure in the stomach, forcing acid up past the sphincter and into the esophagus. There may be other factors, too, including smoking, unmanaged stress, obesity, and pregnancy. Even wearing clothing that's too tight over the abdomen can trigger a flare-up by placing extra pressure on your stomach.
Blended Medicine by Michael Castleman, page 232
Specific foods can relax the sphincter muscle, causing it to open and allow stomach acid to backwash into the esophagus. These are: chocolate, peppermint, spearmint, fatty foods, alcohol, probably onions. Clue: some of the same foods mat make you belch can give you heartburn. Food can increase acidity of stomach juices, making them more painful when they wash up into the esophagus. Foods diet commonly spur stomach acid secretion are coffee (regular and decaf), colas, beer and milk. Foods such as citrus and tomatoes, hot spicy foods and coffee, when swallowed can directly contact an already damaged esophagus, causing irritation and burning. Eating too fast and too much can overload the stomach, making it overfull, pressuring a weakened sphincter muscle to pop open. Lying down, especially on your right side, too soon after eating also thwarts gravity, pushing food up against the muscle, encouraging it to open. Carrying too much weight around the abdomen can also put pressure on the sphincter muscle, weakening it and promoting reflux. In diet case, losing weight often alleviates heartburn attacks.
Food Miracle Medicine by Jean Carper, page 149
Drinks and foods that are more acidic, like tomatoes and citrus, are more likely to cause heartburn. Dairy products have been shown to trigger symptoms, but more symptoms were provoked with milk with higher fat contents, suggesting that fat was the culprit, rather than the milk. Alcoholic beverages, coffee and, to a lesser extent, tea provoked heartburn, as well as high fat, fried and spicy foods and chocolate.
Digestive Wellness By Elizabeth Lipski MS CCN, page 199
Indigestion is a vague term we use to refer to minor disruptions of the function of the esophagus, stomach, and intestines, causing symptoms such as heartburn, queasiness, burping, and gas. Acute bouts of such symptoms usually are the result of bad diet or psychological stress. Eating too much, too rapidly, or too many foods at one meal may cause as much trouble as particular problem foods or beverages.
Everybody's Guide To Homeopathic Medicines by Stephen Cummings MD, page 151
Heartburn or dyspeptic pains are among the most important thirst pains of the human body. Heartburn is the early stage of a gradually intensifying pain that is called dyspeptic pain and eventually peptic ulcer pain. It is felt in the upper part of the abdomen. It can reach an intensity that can incapacitate the person and mimic an acute crisis that requires surgery. Dyspeptic pains, labeled "gastritis," "duodenitis," "esophagitis," "heartburn," and "indigestion after eating," should be treated by only an increase in water intake. When there is associated tissue damage or ulceration, changes to the daily diet that enhance the rate of repair of the ulcer site become necessary. In the above advanced stages of local damage, dyspeptic pain is still a direct signal of dehydration. The ulceration is the product of a protein metabolism disturbance caused by the same stressful and long-lasting dehydration. In the same way we recognize our hunger pain, the human body also has a thirst pain. We almost always confuse our thirst pain for a signal of food shortage— hence overeating. When this same signal follows a meal, we call it dyspepsia or heartburn, and sufferers are often urged by their doctors and the media to take some form of medication to relieve the pain. After a number of years from the onset of this upper abdominal pain, depending on many other factors, an ulcer may develop.
Water For Health Healing by F Batmanghelidj, page 131
Too much garlic might give you heartburn, indigestion, or gas.
Eat and Heal by the Editors of FC&A Medical Publishing, page 176
Milk can cause bloating and diarrhea, cucumbers can cause burping, onions may trigger heartburn, beans usually create flatulence, shrimp can cause severe allergies, and bread may produce the digestive disorder called celiac sprue, to name only a few possible complications of eating.
Beat Depression with St John's Wort by Steven Bratman, page 82
Beware chocolate. It is one of the most common culprits in heartburn. "I can bring on heartburn any time I want," says Dr. Castell, who has spent more than twenty years probing the exact mechanisms by which various foods precipitate heartburn. To prove how chocolate behaved, Dr. Castell had people drink about half a cup of chocolate syrup; then he measured the pressure of their lower esophageal sphincter muscle; it lapsed into a flabby lethargy that lasted an average 50 minutes. Further, he found the acid footprints of damage in the esophagus from eating chocolate. He tested both ordinary people and patients -who already had esophageal inflammation from recurring heartburn attacks. On alternate days, after meals, the volunteers drank either a glass of water mixed with about one-third of a cup of chocolate syrup or a plain sugar-water solution. Within an hour after downing the chocolate drink, those with frequent heartburn showed detectable increases of stomach acid in their esophagi, but no effect from sugar-water. However, chocolate did not provoke an acid backflow in those who rarely or never had heartburn. Thus, Dr. Castell warns that chocolate is a special threat to those known to suffer from heartburn.
Food Miracle Medicine by Jean Carper, page 151
Coffee, tea, cola, peppermint and spearmint (volatile oils called carminatives, which are often added to after-dinner liqueurs), onions, peppers, tomatoes and tomato-based sauces and foods, citrus, and fatty foods (especially animal fats and chocolate) may cause pressure changes in the stomach of sensitive people that can cause reflux and heartburn.
Healthy Digestion the Natural Way by Dr Lindsey Berkson, page 60
Dishes seasoned with garlic, chilies, cayenne, or other hot spices can cause nagging heartburn or indigestion.
Food & Mood By Elizabeth Somer MA RD, page 225
Heartburn sometimes depends on how much of it you eat. One prominent gastroenterologist says he can bring on heartburn by eating four—but not three—slices of pepperoni pizza.
Food Miracle Medicine by Jean Carper, page 154
When you dump a lot of protein into your stomach—like you do when you eat meat or fish—and then go to bed, you're going to have a lot of stomach acid churning around, which will create heartburn. What I suggest to people who have heartburn problems is to make dinner more of a carbohydrate-based meal centered around rice, beans, pastas and other nonmeat sources.
New Choices In Natural Healing by Prevention Magazine, page 350
Stomach acid is essential for efficient digestion, and yet it gets unfairly blamed for causing heartburn, ulcer, and other kinds of gastrointestinal upset. More than half of people over forty have heartburn at least once a month. Hartburn occurs when food mixed with acid leaks up into your esophagus, causing feelings of a lump in the throat, chest pain, or burning in the stomach.
Save Your Sight by Marc R Rose MD and Michael R Rose MD, page 138
Chocolate, especially milk chocolate, which is most common in this country, is a multiple threat in heartburn because it contains at least four substances (caffeine, theobromines, theophylline and fat) that can loosen the tight grip of the lower esophageal sphincter, letting burning stomach acid escape up into the esophagus, causing heartburn.
Food Miracle Medicine by Jean Carper, page 151
Heartburn often is the first symptom to disappear following withdrawal of carbohydrates from the diet. This has been observed in hundreds of people. It has not been measured scientifically, however, since only the person with the problem will know if it has dissipated. Often, patients have come back to Dr. Lutz and complained that the low-carbohydrate diet is no longer effective and their heartburn has returned. But a closer look usually reveals that too many carbohydrates have again crept into the diet. Dr. Allan also has found that people who have gone on the low-carbohydrate diet observe an immediate improvement in heartburn and stomach pain after eating if they experienced these problems on their old diet.
Life Without Bread by Christian B Allan PhD and Wolfgang Lutz MD, page 114
After leftover pizza for breakfast, tacos for lunch and Cajun-style chicken for dinner, it's no wonder there's a brawl going on inside your belly. Eating too much too quickly and consuming lots of rich, spicy or fatty foods are common causes of stomachaches. But the heartburn, cramping, nausea, flatulence and other symptoms typically associated with an upset tummy could also be caused by excessive stress, an irregular eating schedule, food poisoning or a flu bug. If the ache persists or recurs, it could be sign of appendicitis, an ulcer or gallstones, so see your doctor.
New Choices In Natural Healing by Prevention Magazine, page 517
Getting too much food in your system at one time is a common cause of stomach upset because your body has trouble handling the sudden increase in volume, says William Ruderman, M.D., a gastroenterologist in private practice in Orlando, Florida. Eating too much fat can also be a problem because it may trip the nausea sensor in the brain, which sends those miserable, queasy sensations down to the stomach. High-fat foods are bad in yet another way. They temporarily weaken a small muscle at the base of the esophagus, the tube leading from the mouth to the stomach. This allows digestive juices, which normally stay in the stomach, to surge upstream, causing heartburn or nausea, says Marie Borum, M.D., assistant professor of medicine at George Washington University Medical Center in Washington, D.C. The combination of heartburn and that too-full feeling can take the cheerful bloom off any social evening. Two of the best ways to keep your stomach calm is to eat a little bit less at meals and to cut back on fatty foods, especially fried meats, says Dr. Borum. But if your stomach's already upset, what you really need is something that will take the queasiness away fast. As it turns out, foods, especially bland foods, can do that, too.
New Foods For Healing by Selene Yeager, page 506
The most frequent and minor stomach disorders are, of course, indigestion, heartburn, and gas. These disorders are caused by overeating, eating too quickly, eating foods that are rich in fat or spices, or stress.
World Medicine by Tom Monte, page 67
Onions aggravate heartburn, may promote gas. Oranges and orange juice may aggravate heartburn.
Food Miracle Medicine by Jean Carper, page 486
Human beings must boil, fry, stew or bake their food until the enzymes, vitamins and other essential elements are destroyed. Then we wonder why we have gas, heartburn, ulcers, constipation and diarrhea.
Rapid healing foods by Ben Davis, page 49
Digestive troubles with gas and heartburn are common, especially after eating wheat or dairy products.
The Natural Pharmacy by Schuyler W Lininger, page 512
Overeating can also be a cause of heartburn and indigestion, as it puts more pressure on the lower esophageal sphincter, as can food sensitivities or allergies, or a bad diet.
Ultraprevention by Mark Hyman MD and Mark Liponis MD, page 75
Side effects of ginger are rare when used as recommended. However, some people may be sensitive to the taste or may experience heartburn.
The Natural Pharmacy by Schuyler W Lininger, page 428
Everyone should be alert to heartburn as a major thirst pain of the body, which can occur at all ages. In some, the sensation of thirst may not at first be signaled by severe pain; it may initially be felt as a discomfort in the upper part of the abdomen. In others, the pain may be so severe that an inexperienced clinician might think of it as indicative of a surgical condition and may even perform exploratory surgery and not find any physical sign of a disease. Sometimes the pain is felt around the appendix area and mimics appendicitis. Physicians should consider this type of thirst pain signal when making a diagnosis associated with lower abdominal pains. In some people, the severe pain might be felt on the left side, over the large intestine, and is often identified as colitis. This pain, too, should initially be considered as a thirst signal.
Water For Health Healing by F Batmanghelidj, page 132
When foods that have a contractive effect on the body, such as red meat and other animal foods, are combined with those that are extremely expansive, such as spices, sugar, and alcohol, spastic colon and diverticula are often the result. Individually, these foods represent extremes in qi. The body will try to balance these extreme influences, usually with little success. The initial effects are indigestion, gas, heartburn, and alternating bouts of diarrhea and constipation.
World Medicine by Tom Monte, page 101
A diet high in sugar makes heartburn worse.
Doctors Complete Guide Vitamins Minerals by Mary D Eades MD, page 362
Extremely expansive foods, such as spices, sweets, or alcohol, excite and expand the spleen. So, a night of pepperoni pizza and wine is usually followed by heartburn and/or a quick trip to the bathroom.
World Medicine by Tom Monte, page 69
Most people enjoy garlic; however, some individuals who are sensitive to it may experience heartburn and flatulence.
The Natural Pharmacy by Schuyler W Lininger, page 427
In fact, fatty foods are nearly twice as likely to aggravate heartburn in susceptible people as chocolate alone. About 76 percent of such people are stricken with heartburn after eating high-fat foods, compared with 40 percent after eating chocolate. More alarming, regularly eating lots of fat is apt to push you over the edge into chronic heartburn.
Food Miracle Medicine by Jean Carper, page 153
Consuming more than five garlic cloves a day may cause flatulence, gastric distress, and heartburn.
Anti-Aging Prescriptions by James Duke PhD, page 149
Excessive vinegar consumption over several weeks or months can lead to heartburn.
Bottom Line Yearbook 2002 by Bottom Line Personnel, page 82
Caffeine is an effective stimulant of the central nervous system but, especially in large amounts, produces many undesirable side effects-from nervousness and insomnia to rapid and irregular heartbeats, elevated blood sugar and cholesterol levels, excess stomach acid, and heartburn.
The Honest Herbal by Varro E Tyler PhD, page 73
Coffee stimulates stomach acid secretion (both caffeinated and decaf). Can aggravate heartburn.
Food Miracle Medicine by Jean Carper, page 478
Ginger is non-toxic, but you may experience heartburn if you take a large dose on an empty stomach.
Spontaneous Healing by Andrew Weil MD, page 220
Excess sweetness and acidic foods cause excessive acidity in the stomach and unbalance the spleen. The result is heartburn, gas, and stomach disorders. Since the spleen nourishes the large intestine and lungs, spleen imbalances lead to a variety of bowel disorders.
World Medicine by Tom Monte, page 221
Consumption of moderate quantities of garlic, even on a daily basis, should not pose any particular health risk for normal persons. The larger amounts apparently required for therapeutic utility (five or more cloves per day) can result in heartburn, flatulence, and related gastrointestinal problems.
The Honest Herbal by Varro E Tyler PhD, page 143
Consumed in large amounts, garlic can cause a variety of side effects, including heartburn, gas, skin irritation and, rarely, allergic reactions in sensitive individuals. If you experience garlic-induced discomfort, reduce the amount of garlic you're consuming, advises Dr. Pierson. Or try cooking fresh garlic instead of eating it raw.
Cholesterol Cures by William P Castelli MD, page 99
Many people use sugar with fruit. This causes fruit to ferment. Then they are surprised when they develop gas and heartburn.
Rapid healing foods by Ben Davis, page 48
Excess of sour foods leads to acidic difficulties in the body, such as ulcers, disturbed blood chemistry, skin irritations, and heartburn. If there is a Pitta or Kapha imbalance in the body already, sour foods are considered undesirable.
Perfect Health By Deepak Chopra MD, page 240
Studies have linked caffeine use to abnormal heart rhythms, stroke, heart disease, type 2 diabetes, first-trimester miscarriages, abnormal fetal development and low birth weight in infants, adverse drug interactions, anxiety and panic attacks, bladder irritation, certain types of cancer, higher cholesterol levels, fibroids and fibrocystic breast disease, heartburn, hypertension, osteoporosis, prostate irritation, sleep disorders, and ulcers.
Prescription For Dietary Wellness by Phyllis A Balch, page 228
Many health problems are either caused or complicated by food allergies, says Jacqueline Krohn, M.D., a physician in New Mexico. These include anemia, high blood pressure, fatigue, eczema, asthma, migraines, ear infections, sinusitis, hearing loss, thyroid disease, hay fever, fibrocystic breast disease, kidney disease, diabetes, arthritis, gallbladder disease, irritable bowel syndrome, and heartburn as well as many others.
Alternative Cures by Bill Gottlieb, page 270
Chocolate chip cheesecake. Espresso with a lemon twist. What a feast—and what a classic recipe for heartburn. "What people eat and when they eat it are among the causes of heartburn," says Henry D. Janowitz, M.D., clinical professor emeritus of medicine and consultant in gastroenterology at Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York City. "Often a change in habits can prevent it."
The Complete Book Of Alternative Nutrition by Selene Y Craig, page 315
Many people take antacids to relieve the discomfort of indigestion and heartburn, but these medications may actually make matters worse. Antacids neutralize the acid in the stomach, preventing proper digestion and interfering with the absorption of nutrients. This only leads to continued indigestion. Antacids are useless for gas and bloating. Most antacids sold in the United States contain aluminum compounds, calcium carbonate, magnesium compounds, or sodium bicarbonate. Aluminum-based antacids can cause constipation. Calcium carbonate can cause a rebound effect in which the stomach produces more acid than before once the antacid's effects wear off. Magnesium compounds can cause diarrhea. Sodium bicarbonate can cause gas and bloating.
Prescription For Nutritional Healing by Phyllis A Balch CNC and James F Balch MD, page 462
The problem with many commercial heartburn drugs is that when stomach acid is "blocked," nutrient absorption is sometimes blocked as well.
Uncommon Cures for Everyday Ailments by the editors of Bottom Line Health, page 40
Many antacids, which are widely used for treatment of peptic ulcer disease, gastritis ("heartburn") and acid reflux, contain magnesium and aluminum, both of which bind to phosphate, preventing its absorption into the body.
Vitamin And Mineral Encyclopedia by Sheldon Saul Hendler MD PhD, page 174
Richard Leigh, M.D., an alternative-minded doctor, says, "Taking prescription or over-the-counter antacids for months on end for heartburn is crazy." He and other practitioners recommend natural, safe remedies for this problem. In other words, alternative-minded M.D.'s already knew that heartburn drugs are dangerous and that alternative remedies are often safer and more effective.
Alternative Cures by Bill Gottlieb, page 10
Many prescription and over-the-counter drugs can cause or aggravate heartburn. Drugs that specifically relax the esophageal sphincter muscle, allowing stomach acid to reflux up, include: anticholinergics (such as drugs to treat Parkinson's), calcium channel blockers (heart disease drugs), nicotine and beta-blockers (to lower blood pressure and prevent spasms in the heart muscle).
Prescription Alternatives by Earl Mindell RPh PhD and Virginia Hopkins MA, page 219
The anti-inflammatory drugs that have become so popular among doctors and patients in recent years antagonize the actions of those prostaglandins that promote inflammation. As with most pharmacological antagonists, their effect is rapid and often dramatic, but it comes at a price. There are side effects—toxicity—in this case, irritation of the lining of the stomach that can produce symptoms as mild as heartburn and as major as death from sudden gastric hemorrhage.
8 Weeks To Optimum Health By Andrew Weil MD, page 36
Some drugs can cause heartburn, including birth control pills, diazepam, nicotine, nitroglycerine, progesterone, provera and theophylline.
Digestive Wellness By Elizabeth Lipski MS CCN, page 197
Occasionally a patient who complains of heartburn and diarrhea will realize, after a consultation, that he is simply taking too much antacid or the wrong kind of antacid.
Natural Prescriptions by Dr Robert M Giller, page 187
A reader of our syndicated newspaper column wrote about her experiences with two stomach drugs: My doctor prescribed Reglan (metoclopramide) and Pepcid (famotidine) for severe heartburn. After several days on these drugs I suffered a severe muscle spasm in my neck and shoulder. Within three weeks I was suffering from uncontrollable muscle twitching, hallucinations, severe insomnia, and suicidal thoughts. I thought I was going crazy. The first psychiatrist I saw prescribed Valium, but that didn't help at all. The next doctor tried, in order, Ativan (lorazepam), Desyrel (trazodone), Halcion (triazolam), and a combination of lithium and Elavil (amitriptyline). Nothing helped. I even checked myself into the psychiatric ward of a hospital for three days. It was the most horrible experience of my life.
Graedon's Best Medicine by Joe Graedon & Dr Teresa Graedon, page 202
Drugs can cause heartburn (hormones such as those in the birth control pill, and progesterone, diazepam, and nitroglycerine). Too much magnesium may cause heartburn in some people, as it is a natural muscle relaxant and the valve is a muscle of sorts.
Healthy Digestion the Natural Way by Dr Lindsey Berkson, page 60
Aspirin is an inexpensive drug that has helped countless people who have routine aches and pains, as well as others who have more serious ailments such as rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis. However, this seemingly harmless pill has potential side effects when taken in high doses, including heartburn, nausea, vomiting, ringing in the ears, hearing loss, hives, and itching.
Disease Prevention And Treatment by Life Extension Foundation, page 1176
Although ibuprofen works about as well as aspirin for a sprained muscle or temporarily inflamed joint—tennis elbow, say—and the leaflet in the box recommends it for "the minor pain of arthritis," people who find themselves taking some ibuprofen every day need to be careful. The medicine is somewhat less likely than aspirin to irritate the digestive tract, but daily use can lead to heartburn, indigestion, or ulcers.
Graedon's Best Medicine by Joe Graedon & Dr Teresa Graedon, page 262
Aspirin and ibuprofen can cause heartburn. Lying on your left side can help relieve heartburn. This keeps the stomach below the esophagus, helping to keep it acid-free.
Prescription For Nutritional Healing by Phyllis A Balch CNC and James F Balch MD, page 423
Calcium Channel Blockers Drugs that block the calcium channels found in blood vessels have traditionally been the first choice of prescription medications used to treat Raynaud's syndrome. Nifedipine is considered the standard (Coffman 1992). These drugs block the calcium channels in the smooth muscle of vessel walls, thereby preventing contraction. Side effects are frequent and include dizziness, headaches, nausea, feelings of warmth or flushing, ankle-swelling, constipation, and an increase in symptoms of heartburn, which may subside once the body becomes used to the drug.
Disease Prevention And Treatment by Life Extension Foundation, page 1361
One asthma drug, theophylline, can aggravate heartburn.
Food allergies and Food Intolerance by Jonathan Brostoff MD and Linda Gamlin, page 152
The heartburn remedy Reglan can make you depressed, sleepless, and restless.
Graedon's Best Medicine by Joe Graedon & Dr Teresa Graedon, page 235
When taken in high doses or for prolonged periods, aspirin damages tissues in the body, including the lining of the stomach and intestines, laying the groundwork for stomach cramps, heartburn, nausea, and in some cases blood-ridden stools.
Headaches by Robert Milne MD and Blake More, page 62
Ibuprofen (such as the brand-name product Motrin) is a relative newcomer to the painkiller market, having been available for many years only as a prescription drug. Possible side effects include nausea, vomiting, stomach cramps or pain, constipation, diarrhea, heartburn, stiff neck, headache, fever, dizziness, depression, insomnia, blurred vision, or swelling of hands and legs.
Home Safe Home by Debra Lynn Dadd, page 157
Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) can ease pain, lower a fever, and help control inflammation. They are frequently prescribed for arthritis, as well as for muscle strains, headaches, and other conditions. These medications can cause serious digestive tract upset, including heartburn, indigestion, and bleeding or perforated ulcers.
The People's Guide To Deadly Drug Interactions by Joe Graedon and Teresa Graedon PhD, page 257
Some people are sensitive to regular vitamin C. The acidity upsets their stomach or causes heartburn.
Natural Physicians Healing Therapies by Mark Stengler ND, page 461
Chamomile and peppermint teas both work for simple heartburn and nausea; but peppermint, because it relaxes the sphincter muscle where the esophagus joins the stomach, may make esophageal reflux worse.
Spontaneous Healing by Andrew Weil MD, page 319
Sometimes the first warning sign of gastrointestinal tract damage for those taking anti-inflammatory drugs is heartburn or some similar stomach upset. As warning signs go, this is of limited use since episodes of heartburn can be so frequent and have so many other causes.
Prescription For Disaster by Thomas J Moore, page 142
Gingko is also well known to cause heartburn and stomach upset in many people.
Prescription Medicines, Side Effects and Natural Alternatives by American Medical Publishing, page 97
Peppermint aids in healing and digestion, and also relieves upset stomach and gas or that "too-full" feeling. It must be taken in enteric-coated capsule form to prevent the oil from being released before it reaches the colon. Do not take any other form, or heartburn may result.
Prescription For Nutritional Healing by Phyllis A Balch CNC and James F Balch MD, page 478
Some people taking chlorzoxazone have experienced drowsiness, headache, upset stomach, nausea, vomiting, heartburn, constipation, diarrhea, and loss of appetite as adverse effects.
Worst Pills Best Pills by Sidney M Wolfe MD and Larry D Sasich PharmD MPH, page 712
If you take too much goldenseal, it can dry out mucous membranes or cause irritation along the digestive tract. Also, some people get heartburn and digestive upset unless they take it with meals.
Natural Physicians Healing Therapies by Mark Stengler ND, page 241
Methocarbamol's adverse effects include drowsiness, lightheadedness, dizziness, nausea, vomiting, heartburn, abdominal distress, constipation, diarrhea, and loss of appetite. If you use this drug for a long time, you may develop drug-induced dependence.
Worst Pills Best Pills by Sidney M Wolfe MD and Larry D Sasich PharmD MPH, page 730
It is hardly surprising that this person did not suspect that medicine prescribed for heartburn would cause psychiatric symptoms. But it was criminal that the psychiatrists did not immediately ask about all the medications she was taking and realize the muscle twitching, insomnia, depression, and suicidal thoughts were probably drug-induced side effects. A surprising number of prescription and over-the-counter medications can throw a monkey wrench into the mental machinery.
Graedon's Best Medicine by Joe Graedon & Dr Teresa Graedon, page 203
A thirty-six-year-old man came to me complaining of indigestion and heartburn. The symptoms were so frequent that he was used to eating over-the-counter antacid tablets regularly.
8 Weeks To Optimum Health By Andrew Weil MD, page 38
Enteric-coated peppermint oil is used in Europe to treat IBS. Without enteric coating, the peppermint oil is absorbed in the upper digestive tract, often causing heartburn and esophageal reflux (stomach acid regurgitating into the esophagus). Ginger also has a long history of use to relieve digestive complaints.
Alternative Medicine by Burton Goldberg, page 722
Dicyclomine may cause drowsiness, blurred vision and dizziness. Use caution while driving. Other possible side effects include dry mouth, altered taste, nausea, vomiting, difficulty swallowing, heartburn, constipation, a bloated feeling, intestinal obstruction, difficulty urinating, impotence, abnormal dilation of the pupils, increased sensitivity to light (photophobia), paralysis of the muscles that dilate the pupils, increased pressure of the fluid within the eyes, heart rhythm irregularities, headache, flushing, nervousness, weakness, confusion, insomnia, fever (especially in children), mental confusion or overexcitement (especially in the elderly), rash, itching, nasal congestion, decreased sweating, suppression of milk production in nursing mothers.
Prescription Alternatives by Earl Mindell RPh PhD and Virginia Hopkins MA, page 203
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