The truth about remedies for heartburn

Who has never suffered from heartburn?

The remedies to treat it are one of the most widely used freely available pharmaceutical products in the world.

But how effective are these drugs that we usually have in our first aid kit? And what impact do they have on our body?

Dr. Chris Van Tulleken of the BBC series & # 39; The truth about? & # 39; decided to investigate.

Indigestion can have various causes, such as too much food, wrong things or very fast.

Many times the discomfort is not felt in the stomach itself but in the chest area

What causes this pain? Van Tulleken explains that it usually occurs when the acid in the stomach (which serves to dissolve food) escapes to other parts of the body, especially the esophagus, causing inflammation.

To combat it, many of us have a handful of remedies at hand, usually expensive.

However, the British doctor warns that if we knew what kind of food indigestion caused, we could save that money.

Breaking myths

Many people who suffer from heartburn avoid spicy food and sour food.

But Van Tulleken organized a test that shows how little we understand about the relationship between food and the burning problems we have.

Invited to a group of volunteers to eat three dishes:

  • Entry: a salad of tomato and basil seasoned with balsamic vinegar
  • Main course: a spicy curry of rice and chicken
  • Dessert: crunchy from apple with ice cream from cream

Then he asked his four guests to identify which of those foods could give them the worst acidity, each being eligible plate with a figure of 0 to 10.

All volunteers came to the same conclusion: the combination of the tomato, an acid fruit, with the vinegar, would certainly cause stomach burn. Average score: 6

The spicy main course got an even worse score: an 8.

Instead everyone felt peace with the dessert . "I'm going to qualify it with a zero because there are no chances to cause me indigestion," said one.


At the end of the dinner Van Tulleken analyzed the results and separated the myth from reality.

the statement clarifies that "the acid in the stomach is thousands of times more potent than tomato acid and vinegar, so those juices contribute to the dilution of gastric acid."

As for curry, which was declared the most harmful dish for the stomach, he pointed out that the power of the spicy really does not affect the sensory.

"What happens is that the spicy works on your pain nerves that send a message to the brain similar to if you had your mouth on fire, but spicy should have no effect on your stomach ", he clarified.

Finally the dessert, voted the most harmless.

"In fact, what induced the indigestion, the foods with a high caloric and fat content ", are surprised.

The reason why fat and sugar cause indigestion is because they stimulate the stomach to produce more acid . ] "This also applies to alcoholic beverages, so it is best to avoid them if you suffer from heartburn", the expert advised.

And the medicines?

But assuming that temptation wins, we get a belly and we end with acidity, what is the best solution?

If you have moderate pain antacids will relieve you Van Tulleken confirms.

"The tablets that resemble chalk are the ones that work faster because they immediately neutralize the acid," explains the doctor. He adds that they are also a safe medicine that does not cause any other problems.

However, often the strong pain is caused by reflux. For this problem we usually take solutions called alginates, which act as a protective barrier between stomach acid and esophagus.

But do they work? To find out, the doctor created the model of a stomach.

He filled a conical glass bottle (officially known as an Erlenmeyer flask) with hydrochloric acid, the acid that is in our stomach.

destroyed a dose of anti-reflux medication that commonly used to treat gastric acid.

The alginates formed a plug in the opening that represented the connection of the stomach to the esophagus.

From Tulleken turned the vial to see if the plug was an effective barrier … and that was it!

The drug succeeded in preventing the acid from escaping from the bottle .

Conclusion: the two most common drugs to treat indigestion ] are effective in relieving pain.

However, the doctor warns that if someone uses them often, this may indicate another problem that should be checked by a specialist. [1965904] 3]

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