(This article previously appeared on Grandparents.com.)
At your favorite Italian restaurant, you're relishing the spaghetti with lots of rich sauce, bits of onion and garlic; a terrific glass of vino, followed by a piece of chocolate cake and coffee. On the way out, you snack on the complimentary mint. And by the time you get home, you have a painful feeling in your chest.
What you may not know is that your delicious meal contained some of the most-often cited causes of heartburn: tomatoes, garlic, onions, alcohol, chocolate, caffeine and mint.
Heartburn affects about 20 percent of Americans once a week, according to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Disease. If it’s a chronic condition, it’s often known as Gastroesophageal Reflux Disorder or GERD. That’s because heartburn really has nothing to do with your heart and everything to do with your esophagus. When the little flap on the bottom of it (which is supposed to open to let in food and then close to keep the digestive acids from rising back up) fails to do its job, you are left feeling like your heart is on fire.
Many people take Tums or Rolaids. For some tougher cases, Histamine 2 (H2) blockers like Tagamet or Zantac are recommended. And for chronic cases, Proton Pump Inhibitors such as Nexium, Prilosec, or Prevacid cause the stomach to produce less acid, says Dr. Jacqueline Wolf, author of A Woman’s Guide to a Healthy Stomach and associate professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School. But those drugs have recently been found to have some serious, even dangerous, side effects.
And drugs may rob the body of certain nutrients and minerals, Wolf says. Some alternatives, however, are as close as your kitchen or easily purchased at the grocery or drug store. Read on for five natural remedies, but be sure to look at possible side effects and investigate potential interactions with other products you're taking: