Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD) is more commonly known as heartburn. We have already discussed it on Dr.Nibber.com before here as it is a very common condition that is characterized by a burning sensation that starts in the upper abdomen and moves into the chest and that is worse when lying down or bending forward. Heartburn sufferers can often associate the problem with specific foods, with fatty foods, acidic foods, alcohol and chocolate being known offenders. The contents of the stomach back up into the esophagus because the sphincter between the stomach and esophagus is not functioning properly. Since the cells of the esophagus are not meant to handle this level of acidity, heartburn is extremely painful and can have serious long term consequences such as esophageal cancer, narrowing of the esophagus from scaring and Barrett’s esophagus. It is not only the acid which causes problems. The stomach also contains pepsin and bile acids which are equally dangerous for the cells of the esophagus. Pepsin is a digestive enzyme which degrades proteins and the presence of bile acids in the esophagus has been shown to increase the likelihood of more serious injuries.
Signs and Symptoms: regurgitation, local chest pain, sleep disturbances, bloating, feeling of fullness
Risk factors: obesity, smoking, family history, high cholesterol diet
Management: Elevate head when sleeping, stop smoking, reduce eating spicy foods, drugs: PPI’s and H2 antagonists
Mastic gum is the gummy resin of the mastic tree – Pistacia lentiscus, a relative of the tree that gives us the pistachio. The mastic tree is found almost exclusively on the Greek island of Chios, the birthplace of Hippocrates, the traditional father of medicine. The use of mastic in medicine is attested by the Biblical prophet Jeremiah, and the thirteenth-century Arabic physicians Ibn Al-Jazzar Al-Qayrawani and Ibn Al-Baytar specifically extolled its virtues in fighting gastric and intestinal problems.
Additionally, evidence is mounting that in many cases infection with H. pylori also causes, or aggravates, heartburn (gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)). If that proves to be the case, then mastic may yet prove to provide soothing relief – and a real solution – for this miserable condition.
From the caravans of the ancient Near East to you: safe, natural, and real relief from digestive suffering.