By Ariana Estelle Symons PhD.
Extracted from the Kombucha Konnection newsletter
Major Illnesses May Hide Underneath Heartburn
Hiatal Hernia & Esophagitis
How Can You Differentiate Hiatal Hernia From An Ulcer?
Helpful Hints For Heartburn, Indigestion, Hiatal Hernia and Esophagitis
The Natural Approach
Too Much Acid?
Herbs That Absorb Excess Acid
Juices That Neutralize Stomach Acid
Too Little Acid
Harmonic Harvest Products
Sometimes it starts. as a burning pain that begins in the pit of the stomach
and spreads in waves upward to the back of the throat. It can feel like a weight on your chest, or like a bra that
fits much too tight. Some people experience this discomfort only now & then - occasionally after an unusually
heavy meal. Some experience it daily. What a miserable thing to look forward to; knowing that every time you eat,
you will be in pain. With others it's because they eat too fast, especially when 'stressed out'; grabbing a quick
hamburger in the car while talking on the cell-phone, while fighting traffic, when late for a meeting. Some people
have problems immediately following a meal, and others wake up in the middle of the night thinking 'oh my gosh,
I'm having a heart attack'! It can hurt that bad. Regardless of how or when you get it - it's really awful!
Of course, if you do wake up in pain, thinking it could be a heart attack - don't hesitate to call '911'. Heartburn and hiatal hernia symptoms can sometimes mimic heart problems. Obviously, you don't want to mistake a heart attack for heartburn. If you have these other symptoms with heartburn, you should immediately get to a hospital.
· Shortness of breath
· Light-headedness or dizziness
· Pain radiating into your neck and shoulder
· Pain when swallowing
If you notice any of these symptoms, get immediate help. Don't worry about feeling foolish or embarrassed if the emergency room staff tells you, "it's only heartburn". That's better than the coroner telling your survivors that "it wasn't heartburn".
Actually, the term 'heartburn' is right on target. Of course you feel like something in your chest is burning. It is! Heartburn or Acid Reflux occurs when stomach acid containing hydrochloric acid (the stuff they use to clean metal with) moves up from the stomach into the esophagus, the tube between your stomach and your mouth. The lining of the stomach protects it from the effect of those powerfully acid digestive juices, but the esophagus has no such lining. So - when the acid hits - it burns like hell!
This type of heartburn, the occasional event caused by overeating, spicy foods, too much alcohol, or medication - is usually called 'simple acid reflux'. However, when you are experiencing it, it's not simple at all. Also, it can lead to more serious problems. Acid reflux occurs when the valve at the top of the stomach leaks, allowing acid and other material from the stomach to flow up and into the esophagus. Repeated episodes of acidic reflux may lead to certain complications, including esophagitis (the inflammation of the esophagus), esophageal ulcers, and a narrowing of the esophagus. These conditions cannot be self-diagnosed, and if you believe you might have esophagitis, please be examined and evaluated by your primary health practitioner. There are other conditions that can cause heartburn, and they must be remedied to relieve the symptoms.
A landmark Swedish study, based on data spanning three years and inclusive of all Swedes under the age of 80 (eight million people), was published in the New England Journal of Medicine (Cohen 1999). Discussing the Swedish study's findings, Dr. Cohen of Mount Sinai told NBC News, "The more severe the symptoms, the more frequent and the longer the duration of symptoms, the higher the risk of cancer"(Bazell 1999).
Not limited , however, to the dangers of esophageal carcinoma, which is almost always fatal, heartburn causes millions to suffer a broad range of health problems. So pervasive is heartburn in America that nearly 100 million adults experience acid reflux, spending $15 billion a year on medications, according to Dr. David Utley (1998) of Stanford University Hospital.
A noted gastroenterologist, Dr. Douglas Rex has studied acid reflux-related problems extensively at the Indiana University School of Medicine and reported a comprehensive overview in the Journal of Family Practice that describes an association between acid reflux and respiratory problems. In fact, abnormal reflux affects over 80% of people with asthma and 62% of chronic bronchitis sufferers. Irritation of the lining of the esophagus is implicated in nightly bouts of coughs or wheezing, sore throats, earaches, hoarseness, and dental problems (Rex 1992).
Furthermore, 95% of heavy users of antacids had symptoms consistent with
gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), according to Dr. Rex. Underneath the heartburn, scientists have found delayed
gastric emptying from the stomachs of 41% of people with GERD. A report in the Archives of Internal Medicine revealed
evidence of serious underlying health problems in 178 people who had used over-the-counter antacids for an average
of 11 years (Robinson 1998)
Chronic acid reflux caused an ulceration of the lower esophagus in 47%, while 57% suffered from hiatal hernia (the intrusion of a portion of the stomach into the lower esophagus). Thirteen in the study had a pre-damaged cell growth in the esophagus, active cell damage, and peptic ulcers. Interestingly, many of the participants felt discomfort while swallowing, hoarseness, and wheezing, but few had ever reported these problems to their doctor.
Hiatal Hernia refers to the bulging of a portion of the stomach above the diaphragm. This condition can be caused by a stretching of the diaphragm muscle, which normally fits snugly enough around the esophagus to keep the stomach from pushing up into the chest cavity. Oftentimes a hiatal hernia will cause heartburn. When the hiatal hernia causes an irritation of the esophagus - esophagitis - it may need to be corrected by surgery; but if commonsense natural means are employed this can often be avoided.
· If your symptoms are worse when your stomach is empty, it is more
likely to be an ulcer.
· If your symptoms are worse when you eat and drink too much, when you eat and lie down, or when you eat and bend over, then it's more likely to be hiatal hernia.
When heartburn hits, most people reach for either an antacid, or a glass of milk. The occasional use of antacids is probably not harmful (however, it's best to investigate the 'cause', not simply to treat the 'symptom') Many of the most popular antacids contain both magnesium and aluminum. Regular consumption of antacids containing these could lead to problems. Aluminum is apparently directly associated with Alzheimer's disease. Autopsies on patients who suffered from Alzheimer's disease have shown much higher than normal concentrations of aluminum in their brains. Regular consumption of antacids containing magnesium can cause diarrhea. The big drawback to being dependent on antacids is that they will not treat the underlying cause of your discomfort - only the apparent symptoms.
According to Dr. Malcom Robinson, "The continuous use of antacids may result in acid rebound, diarrhea, and constipation, and exacerbate the symptoms of hypertension and congestive heart failure, and may produce drug to drug interactions".
True, a glass of milk seems to soothe and diminish some of the discomfort. However, this practice can be counterproductive, since milk, being a 'fatty food', triggers the stomach to produce more hydrochloric acid, putting you right back at 'square one'.
Most digestive problems appear to be because there is too much stomach acid at work. Conversely, a person that produces too little stomach acid can suffer from poor digestion of proteins, causing painful gas symptoms. Gas and indigestion following a high-protein meal indicates low stomach acidity, meaning that the proteins you eat are not properly broken down.
· Eat smaller, more frequent meals, and be sure not to eat right before bedtime
· Cut down on fatty foods
· Avoid coffee, tea, chocolate, liqueurs, citrus fruits & juices, onions, tomatoes
· Avoid bending down or lying down right after eating.
· Elevate the head of your bed two to three inches. By keeping your head higher than your feet, you'll be helping to prevent the acid from flushing back out of the stomach.
· Sleep on your left side if you get heartburn at night. Lying on your right side encourages stomach acid to wash into the esophagus, triggering the burning sensation.
· Stop smoking
· Eliminate alcohol
· Use methods of stress control
· Take one or two acidophilus capsules to relieve symptoms
· Take one or two charcoal capsules or tablets occasionally to relieve symptoms
· Avoid tetracycline and other antibiotics, slow-release potassium, aspirin, and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs just before bed
· Antacids can help on an occasional basis, but avoid those that contain aluminum or magnesium
· Don't take antacids immediately after eating. Wait a half hour
· Don't rely on baking soda, as it will eventually hinder nutrient absorption, elevate blood pressure and acidity - plus upset kidney functions
Rather than spend your life in fear of Mexican Restaurants, Pizza Delivery or Thai Food, while spending a fortune on antacids, and enduring sleepless nights, you might consider using herbs to treat your heartburn problems.
Herbs that decrease stomach acid:
· Licorice root
A plant-based condiment traditionally eaten with raw fish and used in Traditional Chinese Medicine, ginger has several potent gastroprotective actions. In a study by Japan's National Institute of Health, ginger dealt a lethal blow to a parasitic infection common in raw fish dishes such as mackerel, halibut, and tuna (Goto 1990).
This pungent ingredient of chili has been shown for many years to have a gastroprotective effect against experimentally induced gastric mucosal injury in animals. Recent studies published in Digestive Diseases and Sciences demonstrated a clear protective effect of cayenne pepper on human digestive systems. (Yeoh 1995)
· Slippery elm
· Flax seeds
· Fenugreek seeds
· Apple juice
· Carrot juice
The juice from either apples or carrots contain malic and tartaric acid which well help to neutralize stomach acids.
1 Teaspoon each of
Green Tea Leaves
Lemon balm leaves
½ teaspoon Slippery elm bark
¼ teaspoon each of
1-1/2 cups very hot water
1-1/2 cups carrot or apple juice
Combine herbs and pour very hot water over them. Steep for at least 15 minutes, then strain out herbs and add juice. Drink 1 cup after each meal. Stored in the fridge, this will keep well for a few days.
The same spices that improve a poor appetite also relieve intestinal gas. If you suffer from a gas problem, try using these when preparing meals:
Equal parts of the following leaves
· Lemon balm
· Steep in very hot water for 15 minutes
Peppermint's versatility has made it the most popular of digestive herbs. In 1985, a team of researchers in Germany compared Peppermint with drugs that relieved stomach spasms, promoted digestive fluids, killed bacteria and cut down on gas produced in the intestines. In these tests, peppermint proved equally as effective as any of the drugs tested. Note: if Peppermint seems to exacerbate your symptoms, see your doctor, because there may be some other underlying condition.
Throughout the world - bitter herbs, in one form or another are part of
everyday dining. One of the best known bitter herbs is gentian (nicknamed 'bitter root'), this herb remains bitter
even at 1 part per 20,000 dilution. Gentian is the main ingredient of of popular cocktail flavoring 'Angostura
Bitters'. Herbal aperitifs, such as the elecampane cordial are still served before the evening meal in many European
homes. Greeks dine daily on horta, a bitter mix of chicory and dandelion greens sprinkled with olive oil. French
and Italian families enjoy steamed or fried greens such as dandelion every day. The ritual Jewish Passover meal,
eaten by Jewish people the world over includes bitter herbs(in biblical times, these were probably hyssop, wild
lettuce, chicory, dandelion and sorrel). In Germany, centaury (gentian's distant relative) is used to make a popular
bitter drink. And in North America, we drink bitters without even knowing it - the primary ingredient in beer is
the digestive bitter known as hops. Other bitters include goldenseal, Oregon grape root and blessed thistle. Note:
you will not receive the same effects from capsules containing these bitter herbs. Ordinary black pepper will also
help to encourage the production of stomach acids.
If you often suffer from indigestion after a high-protein meal, this may be because you need more of the enzymes that help your body digest protein. These can be found in papaya peels, pineapple, cucumbers and ginger. Since they are destroyed by high temperatures, you should consume them raw. If pineapple causes pain, you might have an ulcer. We'll discuss ulcers in the September Kombucha Konnection newsletter.
An excellent treatment for low stomach acid problems is to take herbal bitters, which encourage your stomach to produce its own acid. The moment these herbs touch your taste buds, a message is sent to your brain, and your digestive fluids, including acids, are activated. Most health food stores will carry several types of bottled herbal bitters, or you can make your own.
3 teaspoons tincture of gentian rhizome
½ teaspoon tincture of dried orange peel
½ teaspoon tincture of cardamom seeds
Combine ingredients and put a few drops in warm water and drink. It doesn't take much.
American Journal of Chinese Medicine(;17(1-2):51-6
New England Journal of Medicine;340(11):878-9
Journal of Family Practice;35(6):673-81
Journal of Surgical Research;15(6):385-90
Digestive Diseases &Sciences;40(3):580-3
Recently there has been some discussion on the Kombucha mailing List, and
some private Email about problems with 'acid reflux'. Here are a few of the posts and notes.
I am mostly a watcher in this list and have enjoyed it immensely.
I have been drinking my KT religiously, but found that it upset my acid reflux. I have experimented by not taking KT for awhile, and it seems to be ok. When I start drinking it again, I have very bad acid reflux. I am taking medication for it but it doesn't seem to help when I drink KT. I don't want to stop the KT. It has helped my cluster headaches, and fibroid on my uterus doesn't ache anymore. What should I do?
"My experience with gastric reflux is similar to letters on this list. I spent 3 years waking up in the mornings with a raw sore throat. After tests I was told it was gastric reflux. There's no cure, only medication, which has side effects. I tried Kombucha and experienced stomach pain which subsided after a few minutes. After persevering for about a week, the pain and the reflux disappeared. That was 3 years ago. I only take 4 oz. In the AM. If I experience acid stomach at bedtime, I take another 4 oz. And it's better.
I wish I could tell you why it aggravates your stomach. My recipe is made up of black and green tea, white sugar, and distilled water.
Hi Ariana & everyone,
I had a very bad case of stomach acid reflux for years. I have gone thru circuits of medicine from Tagamet to Prilosec. I would get relief while taking the medication, but a week or so after I ran out, the symptoms would return. In addition, I had poor digestion, aggravated by a peptic ulcer, since my early teens.
I have been on the KT regiment since march of this year. I no longer suffer from the above symptoms. Coincidence? I think not.
My entire family (brothers and sisters) suffer to some degree from the same problems. They have also reported total lack of problems since I started them on KT.
I am using the Tibetan strain from Harmonic Harvest, brewed with PuErh Tea. I would suggest that you try the same strain.
Harmonic Harvest Products
This publication is copyrighted and the publication or portions thereof may not be used in any way without written permission from the author. All rights reserved.
Harmonic Harvest Web Page
Kombucha Konnection Home Page
If you have questions about Kombucha or the contents of this web page, ask Ariana
This page is maintained by Bob Williams,
Kombucha Center Home Page