The burning sensation (heartburn), sometimes associated with pain in the sternum and upper abdomen, is one of the most common symptoms of gastric disorders, often recurring. An inadequate diet, bad eating habits, emotional lability, worries, overexertion play a decisive role in the onset of these disorders. The habit of eating large meals, eating too quickly, not chewing properly, eating food that is too spicy or to which one is intolerant, taking drugs, especially anti-inflammatory drugs, may promote the onset of heartburn and stomach pain. Sometimes the presence of gastroesophageal reflux, with incompetence of the esophageal sphincter, promotes the flow of gastric contents back into the oesophagus (motility disorder). In this condition, the acid vapours of the droplets of gastric juice evaporate upwards, irritating the mucous membranes of the oesophagus and upper airways, causing subtle, persistent or relapsing disorders.
The measures to be taken
To control the excess gastric acidity causing heartburn, some simple measures must be taken, such as avoiding excessively large meals, eating little and often, calmly and chewing food properly; eating foods rich in fibre; restrict alcohol, citrus fruit, coffee, carbonated drinks; avoid excessively cold or hot foods; do not lie down immediately after a meal. As supplements it is useful to use salts that neutralise excessive production of gastric acids and therefore hyperchlorhydria. Calcium carbonate and sodium bicarbonate are particularly indicated, in association with certain plants, such as Emblic fruit, Verbena odorosa leaves, Fennel fruit, Bay and Basil leaves and the pericarp of sweet Orange.