Most of us, several times, after a big meal or after some alcoholic drinks we suffer from this annoying sensation in the chest in combination with a discomfort taste in the throat. This is called heartburn. This condition afflicts many people, while the most of the times should not worry us, because itself it is not dangerous for our health. It’s not common to use medical treatment due to the fact that herbal remedies are increasingly popular as treatment of heartburn. Many researches proved that Chios mastic gum significantly improves symptoms in patients with heartburn.
What is Heartburn?
As heartburn we consider the burning sensation in the lower chest in combination with a bitter and sour taste in the throat. This is caused by digestive acid moving into the esophagus, the tube that carries swallowed food from the mouth to the stomach. Especially, this happens because the lower esophageal sphincter relaxes abnormally or weakens. Heartburn usually occurs one hour after eating. It worsens especially after large spicy and fatty meals because of the substances that cause direct irritation of the esophageal mucosa. Also, food that reduces the pressure of the lower esophageal sphincter can worsen the discomfort sensation. Moreover, heartburn can deteriorate when you lie down or bend over because of the gravity that helps the acid come back up again.
As mentioned before, the symptoms are mostly in the chest and the throat. However, Mayo Clinic Staff while trying to note down the differences between the Heart Attack and Heartburn (the feeling between the two of them can be hard to tell apart) shared a list of symptoms that Heartburn record. In more detail, except from the burning sensation in the chest, it may also involve the upper abdomen. There is a possibility to awake you from sleep, especially if you have eaten within two hours before going to bed. Moreover, it shall be accompanied by a small amount of stomack contents rising up into the back of your throat (regurgitation).
Factors that Worsen Symptoms of Heartburn
Some health conditions or lifestyle choices can make your heartburn worse. For example, pregnant women struggling from heartburn due to the progesterone hormone that can cause relaxation of the lower esophageal sphincter. This allows the contents of the stomach to travel to the esophagus, causing irritation. Moreover, inflammation can be caused from some medical treatments, such as sedatives, aspirin, ibuprofen and some medicines for high blood pressure, especially with an empty stomach. Other aggravating factors are obesity, smoking and consumption of caffeine, citrus products and carbonated beverages.
When Should I Worry?
Heartburn and heart attack can easily be confused due to the similar symptoms. There is a small chance that this chest pain is caused by reduced flow to your heart or an actual heart attack. Heartburn, angina and heart attack may feel very much alike. Even experienced doctors are struggling to distinguish between them. So when this chest pain is combined with other signs and symptoms such as pain in the arm or jaw or difficult breathing, you should call the emergency number. Except from similar symptoms with heart attack, heartburn itself could rarely be dangerous. For example, when heartburn occurs more than twice a week or when the symptoms persist despite use of over-the-counter medications you should visit a doctor. Moreover, other symptoms in combination with heartburn that should worry you are difficulty swallowing, persistent nausea or vomiting and weight loss because of poor appetite or difficulty eating.
As mentioned before, it’s not common to use medical treatment, due to the fact that herbal remedies are increasingly popular as treatment of heartburn. However, there are also some lifestyle changes, that you might be able to include to either avoid or prevent heartburn. In more detail, sources of the National Library of Medicine support that you should eat high protein and low-fat meals at least 2-3 hours before lying down and avoid beverages with caffeine, citrus and gas. Also placing some height right under your head in order to raise it, will help the acid stay in your stomach and not move into the esophagus. Also, quitting smoking, avoiding tight clothes and losing weight will definitely help prevent heartburn. Moreover, doctors recommend good chewing of food, frequent and small meals and avoid water and other liquids during the meal. In conclusion, you should avoid physical activity immediately after meals.
Chios Mastic Gum and Heartburn
Chios mastic gum is registered by the European Medicines Agency (EMA) as a “traditional herbal medicine” with proved treatments for mild gastro esophageal problems. Although the exact mechanisms by which mastic gum acts on the human body have not yet been fully elucidated, all available clinical studies until today show that Chios mastic gum is not unjustly called the ‘’ultimate Greek superfood’’. Many researches proved that Chios mastic gum significantly improves symptoms in patients with heartburn. First of all, gum sooths the discomfort sensation, because chewing itself increases saliva production that neutralizes stomach acids. Saliva dissolves acids and removes them from the esophagus. Also, according to a research (Dabos)  that was conducted at the General Hospital of Chios, Greece, mastic gum offers relief from posterior sterna heartburn in people suffering from gastro esophageal reflux disease. Specifically, the consumption of mastic gum seemed to contribute to the reduction of heartburn, bloating and indigestion after consuming mastic gum for 3 weeks in 75% of patients (dose 1gr per day).
It is a traditional natural remedy used throughout the eastern Mediterranean. Other researches between Chios mastic gum and placebo groups assessed the efficacy of Chios mastic gum in patients with functional dyspepsia. The symptom score after treatment was significantly lower in the Chios mastic gum than in the placebo group.
As we can understand, small changes in diet and lifestyle are the main factors that contribute to the treatment of heartburn. Also, reducing weight in overweight or obese people as well as reducing stress and anxiety could improve quality of life and reduce symptoms. Moreover, if we consider Hippocrates thoughts about food and medicine ‘’let the food be the medicine and the medicine be the food’’ and Chios mastic gum’s official recognition by EFSA (European Food Safety Authority) that 1gr. (recommended daily dose) of mastic is sufficient to contribute to a healthy gastrointestinal system, we will understand why herbal remedies and especially Chios mastic gum is so popular treatment for heartburn.