Can Mindfulness Cure Your Heartburn?

10. 04. 2017

If you feel like heartburn is becoming a normal part of your life, you’re not alone. More than 50 percent of Americans experience heartburn at least once a month, and more than 20 percent suffer from chronic heartburn or GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease).  The steady increase of heartburn incidence has led to overuse of proton-pump inhibitors, which can cause serious health problems such as kidney disease, fractures, pneumonia, dementia, C. diff infections and cardiovascular disease. What is the answer to treating heartburn safely and effectively? (Source: CNN).

Mindfulness

Instead of just popping a pill, you might have more luck using your brain. Yes, you read that correctly. Long-term relief for heartburn may require you to do some thinking about why you are having heartburn. This concept is known as mindfulness. Webster’s dictionary defines mindfulness as “the practice of maintaining a nonjudgmental state of heightened or complete awareness of one’s thoughts, emotions, or experiences on a moment-to-moment basis.” Using mindfulness in treating your heartburn allows you to think about the factors and circumstances under which heartburn develops so that you can make choices to reduce your risk (Source: Experience Life).

Habit vs. Condition

Although heartburn may be caused by conditions such as pregnancy or a structural problem with the lower esophageal sphincter, most cases can be helped with habit changes through mindfulness. Your heartburn triggers can sometimes be identified just by paying closer attention to your environment and diet when heartburn symptoms strike. Some of these triggers include:

Judson Brewer, M.D., Ph.D., is a psychiatrist and the Director of Research at the Center for Mindfulness. In his Ted Talk about the importance of mindfulness, he asserts that true change can happen when we “get really curious about what is happening in our momentary experience.” This change isn’t instant, Dr. Brewer says, “but over time, as we learn to see more and more clearly the results of our actions, we let go of old habits and form new ones.”

Mindfulness is not a quick-fix like an over-the-counter antacid or proton-pump inhibitor, but practicing mindfulness could give you permanent relief from heartburn. Take the time to be more mindful of your heartburn. Keep a journal of your food choices, sleep patterns and stress levels, and ask a loved one to help you be mindful of when heartburn strikes. Most importantly, make an appointment with your doctor to discuss your heartburn triggers and symptoms so you can enjoy life more fully.

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