Heartburn: antacids.

Newsgroups: alt.folklore.herbs
Subject: Re: Herbal Antacid Info Wanted
From: dww5.psu.edu (Dale Woika)
Date: Tue, 29 Nov 1994 03:35:54 GMT

>Hey there... I'm doing a project on the effectiveness of herbal indigestion/heartburn remedies as opposed to chemical ones and need some info. If anyone has the names of any books I can look to, or herbs that work as antacids (please let me know what book you got it from, the author, year, and publisher), please email me at fizzbomb.aol.com. If you do you will have my hearty thanks.

Funny as it seems, most antacids out there are carbonates of calcium & magnesium--you know, limestone, chalk, or dolomite! There really isn't any chemical magic going on here, and aside from the subject of QC/QA, it is logical the dolomite tabs you can get at the health food store would function in much the same way as, say, a dose of tums, which are nearly 100% calcium carbonate. The key action is one of buffering the pH of your stomach up a little bit until your body has a chance to self regulate those pH levels. Also, some foods & some conditions (i.e., spicy foods or emotional stress) tend to exacerbate indigestion problems for some people. The problem with reaching for a tums or rolaids ((TM) both) is that you may experience a rebound effect, which is caused by your body reacting to the medication by producing MORE acid, thus making the problem worse. This is especially true for those antacids which are comprised solely of carbonates. Some antacids also contain aluminum compounds (mylanta etc.) which tend to produce less of a rebound effect. Further, some of these remedies contain silicates ( simethicone ...) which are used as anti-foam/gas agents--other side-effects of indigestion or over-indulgence. As for the citrated compounds, the seltzers et al, these are also used to buffer the stomach acids. However, they taste vile. Finally, there are the bitters, long on the remedy lists for indigestion & sour stomach brought on by over-indulgence. These are various herbal ingredients, usually concentrated in infusions and served in small doses (several commercially available) after big meals. This is a long-standing traditional remedy and seemingly works well enough. I think I have a few bitters recipes about; it anyone needs one, email.

Anyway, one final word of caution: it is easy to de-regulate your digestive system by using antacids regularly. Getting your body used to a roll of tums every day can mean a real bout with heartburn when you stop taking them as your body will be conditioned into adjusting for all of the buffering the antacids are doing down there.

So now you know why your nervous grade school teachers ate the blackboard chalk! And you thought it was some form of emotionally disturbed behavoir!

As far as herbs go, fruits tend to be acidic, but the pH levels are usually regulated to a specific pH. I guess this might help to buffer the pH up, especially for bland fruits. Teas & infusions probably won't have sufficient levels of any "active" ingredients on problems as blunt as stomach pH. Raw ingestion of herbs is not a likely remedy, as these are tough to digest in general. Perhaps some homeopathic doses of digestive aids such as fennel seed before eating might help, and monitoring your diet & controlling your inward stress might be the best relief of all.