Heartburn may be one of the oldest and most common health problems in the world. Scientists estimate that ten percent of the American people suffer from it every day. It’s a burning sensation in the chest which occurs when an excess of stomach acid is regurgitated up the oesophagus toward the throat.
The fifth century B.C., the powerful Persian Empire attempted to conquer the small city-states of Greece. The struggle lasted twenty years. During this period, King Darius I of Persia worked closely with a favoured general who often complained about the acid “burn” in his chest. Darius ordered his personal physicians to solve his general’s problem. Their advice? The general was ordered to sleep on an inclined bed with his head higher than the rest of his body
Directions: This is also the advice modern doctors frequently give to people with heartburn. Raise the head of the bed by placing four, six, or even eight-inch wooden blocks, bricks, or fat phone books under the legs at the head of the bed. Elevation is an effective mechanical aid to deter acid slipping up the oesophagus during sleep, but make sure the bed is steady before you get in. Some people have found it safer to drill a hollow in the blocks in which to place the bed’s legs.
The flower buds of the clove tree have been used for food preparation and medicine since antiquity. A long time ago in Holland, cloves were used to help heartburn patients sleep longer and better.
Directions: Gently pound about half a dozen clove buds to release their oil. Simmer the cloves in a cup of water for ten minutes, then reduce the water by half. Strain out the cloves, add additional water to taste, and drink the liquid.
European village healers advised people with heartburn to drink plenty of water to flush out the oesophagus.
Directions: Drink at least one glass of water after every meal.
Italians have always loved, admired, and used lemons for cooking and medicine.
Directions: If the heartburn you usually get is not from eating sweet things, cut a lemon into thin strips and dip the lemon into salt. Eat one strip before each meal.
The consumption of almonds during the Middle Ages was prodigious. In 1372, an inventory by the queen of France’s staff lists five hundred pounds of almonds but a scant twenty pounds of sugar. Almonds have an oily constituent which helps to relieve heartburn.
Directions: In Central Europe, patients were directed to “to peel and eat six or eight almonds” to lessen heartburn symptoms.
Angelica (Archangelica omninalis) has a long history of medicinal use in Europe. In East Prussia, the plant is still a part of a rural spring chanting ritual that goes back to pagan days. The roots and leaves and angelica’s medical use are lauded in Parkinson’s 1629 herbal, a book in which he also stressed its ability to control flatulence.
Directions: Most ancient and modern herbalists recommend the seeds of angelica for heartburn problems. Crush one teaspoon of angelica seed and add to one and a half cups of cold water. Bring to a quick boil, reduce immediately, and simmer for fifteen minutes. Strain and drink the tea.