Podcast 068: Herbs for Stress-Induced Heartburn in Teens

I don’t know if you’re aware of this, but it’s stressful to be a teen! Sometimes, that stress shows up as heartburn. As herbalists, we can help out! Here’s a discussion of some of our favorite herbs for stress-induced heartburn in teens. Some are for directly addressing the burning pain and discomfort; others are for reducing the stress itself, because it really does trigger the reflux events. Changing your relationship to stressors makes a big difference, and herbs can help you do that. All this is part of a holistic framework including simple changes to diet, sleep habits, and alignment / movement patterns – that makes the herbs much more effective! (But don’t worry, our number one remedy will work even if you can’t convince your teen to do the whole protocol.)

Mentioned in this podcast:

  • Mega-Mag, our favorite magnesium supplement
  • Concentrace,a multimineral supplement from the same producer
  • Daylio, a mood/health-tracking app we’ve been playing with lately
  • Clue, a menstrual cycle tracker app

Herbs discussed include marshmallow, tulsi, betony, goldenrod, linden, hawthorn, and peppermint.

How many of those herbs are you familiar with? Well, almost every one has a detailed profile in our Holistic Herbalism Materia Medica course. Get to know the herbs on their own terms, as complex and unique as they are: what their qualities and actions are, how to make them into effective remedies, everything you need to know to work with them safely and effectively. This course has 89 herbs so far, and when you buy it, you get lifetime access. When we add more herbal content in the future, it’s automatically added to your course, forever. You can try it out for 14 days, with our zero-risk return policy!

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Episode Transcript

Ryn: 00:11 Hi, I’m Ryn. I get to be first this time.

Katja: 00:22 What!

Ryn: 00:22 And you’re Katja.

Katja: 00:23 (Laughing) No, we have to do it the normal way. That’s what I expect.

Ryn: 00:32 (Scoffs) Fine…..

Katja: 00:32 Hi. I’m Katja.

Ryn: 00:32 And I’m Ryn.

Katja: 00:32 And we’re here at the Commonwealth Center for Holistic Herbalism in Boston, Massachusetts.

Ryn: 00:38 and we’re in the same order as always.

Katja: 00:40 Okay. Your way.

Ryn: 00:41 and on the Internet everywhere.

Katja: 00:43 Thanks to the power of the podcast.

Ryn: 00:48 (Laughing) There you go….

Katja: 00:48 (Laughin) Woohoo. All right. We are not doctors. We are herbalists and holistic health educators.

Ryn: 00:54 The ideas discussed in our podcast do not constitute medical advice. No state or federal authority licenses herbalists in the United States (laughing). These discussions are for educational purposes only.

Katja: 01:04 (Laughing) Okay. That’s it. First off, I hereby declare that next podcast is the podcast that we are going to finally do a whole podcast about this intro and talk about herbalism not being licensed and why it’s not practicing medicine and why we think that it’s actually awesome that your good health is your own personal responsibility and why we think it’s important that you’re the one who has the decision in what you do for the health of your body.

Ryn: 01:35 And if you’re brand new to our podcast, and I’m sorry for bursting into laughing in the middle of our very important disclaimer here

Katja: 01:41 (laughing)

Ryn: 01:41 but we do say it every time.

Katja: 01:42 (Laughing) We do say it every time.

Ryn: 01:42 And so it and there are good reasons for that and we’re going to talk about them next week.

Katja: 01:47 We are. I have now decided

Ryn: 01:47 There we go.

Katja: 01:47 that that’s next weeks topic. So stay tuned. That’ll be next week. But this week we’re going to talk about heartburn, especially in particular, stress induced heartburn for teenagers, which is a huge thing.

Ryn: 02:06 It turns out that it’s a thing

Katja: 02:08 It is a huge thing.

Ryn: 02:08 that happens to a lot of humans.

Katja: 02:12 It happened to you!

Ryn: 02:12 Human teenagers.

Katja: 02:12 Yeah.

Ryn: 02:12 I was even one of them.

Katja: 02:12 You were one of them.

Ryn: 02:12 I admit it.

Katja: 02:12 It was, my brother, too. My brother had that.

Ryn: 02:12 This is the truth.

Katja: 02:12 Yeah.

Ryn: 02:12 Yes.

Katja: 02:12 Alright, well before we jump into that, I want to have a giant shout out to Diane who is our newest supporting listener.

Ryn: 02:12 Thank you.

Katja: 02:12 Diane signed up to do a monthly contribution to our podcast and we are so grateful. Thank you.

Ryn: 02:12 Thanks.

Katja: 02:12 You guys might be wondering what we do with the money that our supporting listeners provide. So let me tell you – for your $5 a month or $10 a month, you are supporting some projects that we think are really important in the world. We provide scholarships to people in need. We work in areas affected by mountain top removal mining. We’re training Palestinian and Israeli volunteers who are working in Palestine and Gaza to provide herbal care and trauma support to the people who are living in refugee camps. We provide herbal training to incarcerated students. And this week we want to feature a new fellow who we are really thrilled to support. He is a young blind African American man who is just absolutely amazing. Massachusetts has a program that will fund education for blind people so that they can get jobs and despite that this man has a promise of a job on completion of our program at an herb store here in the city, and that store is hosting him as a free intern right now while he is training with us. So he’s not being paid, but he is learning the position there while he is learning herbalism with us. And then they have guaranteed that that will transition into a paid position when he graduates. The state decided that this is not a valid career choice for this man, so they will only fund things that they think are valid. Yeah. So we thought that was lame and his dreams are not only to work in the herb shop, but also to provide care and support to his community where many of the people are not covered by adequate health insurance. So we have committed to funding this man’s education for the next three years. And when you subscribe as a member to the podcast, that is part of what you’re supporting. So there are over 1500 of you listening every week. Just imagine what we could do if all of you chipped in five bucks a month.

Ryn: 04:47 Wow!

Katja: 04:47 It’d be pretty great.

Ryn: 04:48 That would be pretty good.

Katja: 04:48 It’d be pretty awesome.

Ryn: 04:48 So we would, we’d really appreciate it. Yeah, it’s easy though. You can become a member over at commonwealtherbs.com/supporters and we’ll even get you some nifty free goodies too. I have one that I’m in the midst of production on, but it’s going to be like a bonus episode of the podcast all about hops.

Katja: 05:09 Ooh.

Ryn: 05:09 And some questions about potential problems with the hops that might be real or maybe not, but you’ll have to be a supporter to find out,

Katja: 05:21 (laughing)

Ryn: 05:21 cause I’m not going to let you know this time.

Katja: 05:25 Wow! Big secrets.

Ryn: 05:25 (laughing) I don’t know, I might tell you later. But anyway, that’s on its way sometime in the next two weeks that will appear for our supporters.

Katja: 05:32 There’s also some pretty cool cocktail bitters recipes and some other fun stuff there. So yes. Yay.

Ryn: 05:43 All right. We have a couple of other shout outs to make this week. We had one to BethanyJill on Facebook who says she loves the podcasts, keep them coming. Don’t worry. We will. We will even be semi-regular about what day of the week they happen on.

Katja: 05:58 They really are going

Ryn: 05:59 How about that?

Katja: 05:59 to start happening on Fridays again.

Ryn: 06:00 How about that?

Katja: 06:00 It’s just that we were sick and then

Ryn: 06:01 There were reasons.

Katja: 06:01 there were reasons.

Ryn: 06:01 Reasons.

Katja: 06:01 But Fridays it’s gonna, it’s gonna Fridays.

Ryn: 06:01 It still exists though.

Katja: 06:01 JJ McCarthy on Instagram posted actually back in November about a tea blend that they were making in an absolutely stunning teapot. And somehow I made a note to give a shout out and I totally lost the note. I don’t know what happened. So that means JJ McCarthy, a double shout out to you.

Ryn: 06:01 All the way from November.

Ryn: 06:31 Yes. We have a quick one to soulofmysoul and greenjewel, two different human creatures who recently wrote us reviews on iTunes. Thank you human creatures! We appreciate it.

Katja: 06:39 Yay! And also to Amanda Lieurita, dailymomentstoshare and jbusy2.0 on Instagram who all shared photos about where and how and when they listened to the podcast. They posted with the #holistic herbalism podcast and it is so fun to see what everyone is up to when they’re listening. I actually just took a picture of us getting ready to record the podcast with one of our cats and our dog and our two finches who

New Speaker: 07:12 They count.

Katja: 07:12 who are not singing just right at the moment, but when you hear birds in the podcast that is because we have two finches.

Ryn: 07:19 They’re appreciating their fresh plants you got them today.

Katja: 07:21 I just got them a brand new parsley and a mint plant and they love to eat them.

Ryn: 07:27 Yeah. They so happy when they have herbs.

Katja: 07:29 They like Basil the best. That is their favorite.

Ryn: 07:31 Yeah.

Katja: 07:32 But they also like mint and Parsley, so that’s okay.

Ryn: 07:36 Right now they’re cuddling.

Katja: 07:38 They are you guys. It’s so cute.

Ryn: 07:40 It is Kinda, it is pretty cute actually.

Katja: 07:41 (Laughing) All right, so this week,

Ryn: 07:46 Yeah

Katja: 07:46 so this was a student question and it was so good that we wanted to do a whole podcast about it. Shelby who is enrolled in our Herbalism 101 program, asked about how to help her teenager with stress induced heartburn or GERD or acid reflux. Those words are kind of interchangeable these days. They’re not technically interchangeable, but colloquially they’re kind of interchangeable.

Ryn: 08:13 Yeah.

Katja: 08:14 And this is so super common. My daughter struggled with this. My brother, I remember back when he was in high school. Really, I mean like we always had the like Costco size, enormous industrial bottle of tums there for my brother and my dad. And you, when I, when I first met you, weren’t you just coming off of….

Ryn: 08:40 When I yeah, when I was in college at some point I started having heartburn stuff and taking, taking things for it, over the counter Tums or whatever. And then at some point I did, I did actually get put on one of the PPI drugs for awhile. Proton pump inhibitors, these are drugs that actually stop your stomach from producing as much acid on the theory that that’s the reason why you’re having the heartburn. Although, as we’ll probably mention in a minute, many, many, cases it’s actually the opposite in that you have deficient stomach acid production and that, that was certainly the case for me. I’m spaced on the way that it played out.

Katja: 09:13 Also you were on that for how long?

Ryn: 09:16 A couple of years I think. And then I switched doctors and I had a good one who was like, hey, you don’t need to take this forever. And you shouldn’t,so cut it out.

Katja: 09:24 Yeah.

Ryn: 09:25 I felt really happy and I was like, here’s a good, here’s a good doctor. That was like a long time ago though.

Katja: 09:31 That was a long time ago.

Ryn: 09:31 That was probably like five or six years maybe, I don’t know, maybe five years before I met you. And then it’s been a bunch of years since then anyway.

Katja: 09:39 (laughing)

Ryn: 09:39 So for awhile now. Yeah.

Katja: 09:42 I don’t know. I just remember you talking about it, but you know, those drugs are not approved for longterm use.

Ryn: 09:49 Yeah.

Katja: 09:49 Approved for two weeks.

Ryn: 09:50 It turns out. Yeah. I was wicked surprised when I heard that from one of our pharmacy students.

Katja: 09:55 Yeah.

Ryn: 09:55 I was like, what, are you kidding?

Katja: 09:55 I was like, those are the not safe for longterm use at all. So it’s, it’s really important to have some ideas about how to, how to intervene in these situations and I’m thrilled that Shelby’s teen actually had the diagnosis of stress induced acid reflux because I think that is really a critically important part of the issue for teens. And I mean, I think it’s an important part of the issue for many people, but especially for teens. And I think that having that information right in the diagnosis is really empowering for a teenager so that they can understand that like, okay, I know that this is the way that stress is impacting my body, and if that’s what’s going on, there are actions you can take and you can say, now I will do something to try to mitigate this instead of just like, oh, well I guess my body is just broken this way. You know? So that’s, I think that’s really exciting. I get very excited when people understand more about why their bodies are doing the things that they’re doing. Because the more that you understand about that, the more that you realize that you have a lot of power in terms of your own health.

Physiology of Heartburn

Ryn: 11:25 Yeah. And in all, all likelihood, they’re probably very few cases of heartburn that don’t have some stress related component to them at all, so some of this is just physiology, right? So there’s, there’s like a, a portal or a flapper.

Katja: 11:38 Valve. Valve is the word you want there.

Ryn: 11:40 Yeah. Valve at the bottom of your esophagus, your swallowing tube. And it’s called the lower esophageal sphincter and it opens up right about at the diaphragm and it opens up from there into the stomach. And this is interesting because it, it has nerves that run through it and holds that center closed and those nerves are activated when you’re in what’s called the parasympathetic nervous system state. And that means….

Katja: 12:10 A lot of people will call that the rest and digest state.

Ryn: 12:14 Yeah. Yeah. And the sort of underlying physiological assumption of your body is that you should probably be in that state most of the time. Otherwise there is a problem in your environment and you should go somewhere else.

Katja: 12:28 Boy, that has not been updated to keep up with the times.

Ryn: 12:34 Yeah. Yeah. Human physiology 12.8 hasn’t come out yet, but I mean, so ththee idea I guess is that you would generally be in that sort of calm and relaxed state doing your thing and wandering around hunting or gathering or something like that. And it wouldn’t be too scary or stressful. And so the valve here would stay closed and that would be great. But when you are in the sympathetic nervous system state, the fight or flight state, the stressed out and anxious state, then that nerve circuit isn’t active and so that valve doesn’t actually stay particularly well closed. And so now you are prone to things coming out of it, the wrong direction.

Katja: 13:18 Yeah. You know?

Ryn: 13:20 Yeah.

Katja: 13:21 Since you’re on the topic of physiology, I want to add a few things in because that’s not the only thing that affects that, the health actually.

Ryn: 13:32 Yeah.

Katja: 13:33 Another one, believe it or not is the way that you, I, I am trying to avoid using the word posture because posture is not quite the same as saying alignment. Posture is like often affected by culture or it’s affected by like, norms and or even by stress. And alignment is the more technical term about how we hold our bodies over time. Although I guess in this particular case it could, it could be either word because what I’m gonna talk about here is slouching and the evil slouching. So, you know when we were kids they, our parents still chased after us to sit up straight and stuff like that. I’m pretty sure that that’s just been given up on mostly at this point. But, but I don’t know, I tried to get Amber to, to sit up straight and it’s hard to do, but it’s hard to do for a couple of reasons. First off, because teenagers like to slouch. And, but secondly, because we as a culture promote slouching, we have couches that are super comfy that you just sort of curl up in the corner of and, and you know, we……..

Ryn: 15:00 That’s my slouching couch.

Katja: 15:02 That’s your slouching couch.

Ryn: 15:03 You gotta have that.

Katja: 15:03 We put our kids in chairs for hours a day, right? From a very young age and…….

Ryn: 15:09 Please, please hunch over this desk and do very tiny letters with your pencil.

Katja: 15:13 Right, exactly. So, and even as adults, even as parents, we slouch at work, you know, we’re like, oh, I shouldn’t be slouching, but we slouch at work because we too sit in chairs all day long and

Ryn: 15:26 Yeah.

Katja: 15:26 cars and whatever.

Ryn: 15:29 Right, right. And the body will seek, conve….hmmhmmhmm, efficiency.

Katja: 15:35 Efficiency, yeah, that’s the word.

Ryn: 15:35 Wherever it can get it and sometimes that crosses that line, that, that border from just being an efficient use of energy and conserving what you’ve got to something that actually causes problems because you don’t have enough need for movement built into your normal day.

Katja: 15:51 Right. Right.

Ryn: 15:53 Oh Man.

Katja: 15:54 So constant slouching contributes to and there are some other things that do this as well, but contributes ultimately to intra-abdominal pressure. And some other things that can contribute to that would be wearing really tight clothing, especially tight pants or sucking in to try to make your stomach look thinner and smaller

Ryn: 16:19 And Musclier.

Katja: 16:22 And musclier. And also eating, eating a ton of carbs, like a really carb-heavy diet because those tend to get fermenty and produce a bunch of gas and then that gas causes the pressure. So there’s……

Ryn: 16:39 Particularly in a microbiome that has been insulted in one or a number of ways over the course of its lifetime.

Katja: 16:46 Yeah. Insulted by a mostly carbohydrate diet or a lot of antibiotics, which sometimes you do what you gotta do. And if you, if you’re really sick, then woohoo. Yay. You know, if you’re sick enough that you need antibiotics, then I’m glad that there are antibiotics. It doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t take them. It just means that we need to repair the gut afterwards.

Ryn: 17:06 For sure. Yeah, and just, you know, not having a ton of fermented foods from the moment you were born until every morning after then.

Katja: 17:14 Yeah.

Ryn: 17:15 Yeah. These are problems that we run into in the modern environment that were not the case for a greater amount

Katja: 17:22 Right.

Ryn: 17:22 of the human story. Okay.

Katja: 17:24 Right. So at any rate, whatever your cause of intra-abdominal pressure is……

Ryn: 17:28 Which is just what it sounds like in the abdomen right down there in the belly, if you pointed belly, then you’ve got it right. More pressure is going to, it has to go somewhere.

Katja: 17:39 Yup.

Ryn: 17:39 And some of it will try to go outward, but then you’ll tighten it back in to look sexy.

Katja: 17:44 Yeah.

Ryn: 17:44 And then it has to pretty much go up.

Katja: 17:46 Yeah.

Ryn: 17:47 It goes up…….

Katja: 17:47 And that pressure, like literally it’s like, I don’t know if you squeeze a balloon and then it like, I, I’m trying to like you squeeze the balloon and then it gets like a little weakness up at the top. Like you can see it stretches the rubber out at the top even more.

Ryn: 18:06 weak spot.

Katja: 18:06 So imagine that, but it’s your lower esophageal sphincter that’s doing that and it’s like literally putting enough pressure that it’s causing it to open up again. So……..

Ryn: 18:17 Yeah, sometimes when people have a really, really extreme intra-abdominal pressure problem, they get what you call a hiatal hernia where like part of the stomach pokes out up above the diaphragm. And that’s a bad scene and that’s very, very likely to get reflux going on because here you have like a, a pocket of acid that stuck up there up at the top and is now very likely to splash out when you’re, when you’re anxious lower esophageal sphincter is not adequately closed. Yeah.

Katja: 18:48 Well, so whatever the cause of this sort of valve insufficiency that plays a, that does play a big role, but it’s not the only role. Earlier you were mentioning that so frequently heartburn and all of its associated terminology is actually caused by having not too much stomach acid, but in fact not enough stomach acid. And I like to, I like to visualize this with sort of two mental pictures and one is a bathtub and the other is a shower. So your stomach has a job and that job is that all of the food that comes into the stomach has to be soaked in acid. That is a very important part of the digestion process. And you know, before the food gets to your stomach, it’s in your mouth and you’re supposed to chew and chew and chew and make it good and pasty. And there’s salivary juices that are already happening that are starting to break things down. And then it gets the stomach and it’s job is to get, you know, bathed in acid and then it goes onto the small intestine and the large intestine. And more things happen to, it all gets broken down and absorbed by your body and okay, so everybody’s got their part to play here and your stomach’s job is, all of this stuff has to get really, really soaked in acid to help it be broken down and also to kill pathogens that might be riding in on that food. So the stomach acid is even playing a role for your immune system, which is pretty cool. So the way that this is supposed to work is that you chew the food, you chew the food, you swallow it, it goes into the stomach, it falls through the lower esophageal sphincter and it’s supposed to land in a bathtub full of acid. And that is not a problem for your body because the acid is pooling at the bottom of the stomach and shouldn’t really get up to the place where the, where the sphincter actually is. So we shouldn’t have splashing coming out of the top of the stomach if everything was working properly. However, if you don’t have enough stomach acid, then your stomach looks at the situation and says, wow, my job is to make sure everything is coated in acid and I don’t have enough acid to fill up the bathtub. So I guess I will shift production up to the top of the stomach and I will just have a shower and I will just shower everything with acid as it comes in because showers take less acid than bathtubs do or whatever. And I don’t know, my analogy might break down there.

Ryn: 21:39 (laughing)

Katja: 21:39 I’m not sure if that’s actually true, but…….

Ryn: 21:42 Oh yeah, yeah, you can like run the shower and plug up the bathtub and see how much water you stand in by the time you’re done.

Katja: 21:48 Yeah.

Ryn: 21:49 Up to Your ankles maybe…….

Katja: 21:50 Well it depends on who’s taking the shower.

Ryn: 21:52 It does, but it’s probably less than an actual full bath tub.

Katja: 21:55 Okay, well.

Ryn: 21:56 Usually. usually it is, usually.

Katja: 21:57 Good. Ok. Excellent. So……

Ryn: 22:00 We’re all taking shorter showers and saving the planet,

Katja: 22:02 Right.

Ryn: 22:02 Sure.

Katja: 22:04 Okay, so, so that’s what your stomach does is it shifts the actual location of where the acid is produced. So now your acid is actually up at the top of the stomach where where it has a lot more of a chance of splashing out than it would if it were pooling down at the bottom of the stomach. And I just want to say like that’s kind of amazing actually. Bodies are kind of amazing that we’ve got this capacity to be like, hmm, can’t do the job I’m supposed to do this way. I guess I’ll try a different way, like thats kind of amazing.

Ryn: 22:41 Yeah. Plus that problem is going to feed on itself, right? If you have insufficient acid production and you’re not going to be completely digesting those carbohydrates that you’re

Katja: 22:49 Right.

Stress, Food, & Heartburn

Ryn: 22:49 probably eating a lot of because hey, you’re stressed out and that’s part of the story too, right?

Katja: 22:52 Right.

Ryn: 22:52 So all this…….

Katja: 22:53 Don’t worry, we’re going to get to that point.

Ryn: 22:54 All this comes together and then you have a bunch of carbs, you don’t digest them effectively with your salivary enzymes and your stomach acid and everything else in there. And so then it’s getting down into the intestines in a insufficiently broken down state, feeding unfriendly flora, producing a bunch of gas, and then increasing intra-abdominal pressure.

Katja: 23:16 Yeah.

Ryn: 23:16 And further weakening the lower esophageal sphincter. Now it’s more likely to get out so that that is connected back to that same central problem.

Katja: 23:24 Yeah.

Ryn: 23:25 Yeah.

Katja: 23:25 All right. So then about stress and food maybe real quick. So we already saw how stress is impacting the actual physiology here, but stress also impacts our food choices. And when we’re stressed out, the body is the, the human body is always looking for the most efficient way to do whatever job it has to do. And brain power it turns out is pretty expensive. But if we, if we need to, because it’s a really stressful time, the body will cut corners and try to make things easier and it is easier to break down carbohydrates, especially simple refined carbohydrates than it is to break down like steak and avocado and stuff like that. So, even though those things would be healthier for you in a stressful time, your body can save resources by eating donuts, which are easier to break down into fuel. So when you are really stressed out and you start craving cake and ice cream and all those things, that is not because you’re a bad person, it is because it is easier for your body to break that stuff down into something that can be immediately burned. And your body’s again thinking, Hey, this can’t go on forever. I’m just going to cut some corners for, for a minute here and get some easy fuel. And then later we’ll deal with Broccoli. And you know, the human body just didn’t expect to be under the, this level of stress for this long of a period of time.

Ryn: 25:12 Right.

Katja: 25:12 So……

Ryn: 25:14 So now we have teenagers.

Katja: 25:15 So now We have teenagers.

Ryn: 25:16 Who are a little

Katja: 25:16 Who love donuts.

Ryn: 25:17 are pretty stressed out.

Katja: 25:18 Yeah, yeah, yeah. They might not all love donuts, but I did when I was a teenager,

Ryn: 25:23 Yeah.

Katja: 25:23 if I could have gotten away with only donuts,

Ryn: 25:25 I think they are generally popular.

Katja: 25:27 Yeah.

Ryn: 25:27 They’re generally considered to be okay.

Katja: 25:30 Yeah.

Ryn: 25:30 (laughing).

Katja: 25:30 And I mean, kids don’t get good quality food at school. And also when they’re teenagers, they’re starting to have some autonomy about what they eat and they’re starting to go out in the world and be able to make their own choices about the things that they’re choosing to consume. And that might not be the same choices that we would make for them or that we would want to make for them.

Ryn: 25:51 Sure. Yeah. And I mean, sometimes that can be very obvious and very, very clearly directed to the heartburn or the digestive discomforts. Like if a kid has a food allergy and then decides to go around and consume a lot of it when they’re not at home, and then, hey, why does my guts hurt? All of a sudden? Well, you’re eating those things that your body decided were really bad for you and it seems like they’re pretty bad for you.

Katja: 26:15 [laughing]

Ryn: 26:15 You should maybe stop. I don’t know.

Katja: 26:17 Yeah……

Ryn: 26:18 That’s the idea.

Katja: 26:20 But even if your kid doesn’t have, um, a clearly identified food sensitivity, still just, you know, making those choices around having more carbs, more sugar and lower quality food in general, then you might provide at home all those things, more soda, more coffee because they’re teenagers and they’re starting to drink that. All these things are really adding to the problem. All right, well great. This sounds pretty stressful. What are we going to do about it?

Ryn: 26:53 Yeah, we should solve this problem, right?

Katja: 26:55 Yes. So the first thing that I would say is that Tums are not a good solution to this problem. They are fast acting, but the reason that Tum’s that, wait, that’s not the sentence I want to say. What I want to say is the way that Tums work is that they are neutralizing the acid. And ultimately what’s going to happen here is that you will have even less stomach acid to do the job that you need to do.

Ryn: 27:25 This is a problem because those jobs are important.

Katja: 27:27 Yes.

Ryn: 27:27 Yes

Katja: 27:27 Exactly.

Ryn: 27:28 We’re into these jobs.

Herbal Support

Katja: 27:29 Yeah. They need to get done. Yeah. We need to break the food down. So I would say really to avoid Tums. But there is a fast acting solution in the herbal world that does not contribute to the lower stomach acid problem. And that is marshmallow root.

Ryn: 27:49 Yeah. Marshmallow root infusion is so easy.

Katja: 27:52 It is.

Ryn: 27:53 You get a jar, you get a couple of big pinchfuls of marshmallow root.

Katja: 27:58 Let’s say two tablespoons.

Ryn: 27:59 Yeah. Let’s say that two tablespoons.

Katja: 28:02 Wow, do you hear me measuring?

Ryn: 28:03 Yeah.

Katja: 28:04 I can’t believe it.

Ryn: 28:04 But they’re not like flat ones though.

Katja: 28:06 Yeah, they’re too humpy Tablespoons.

Ryn: 28:09 Heaping.

Katja: 28:09 Yeah.

Ryn: 28:11 Lumpy, rounded tablespoons of, of of plenty.

Katja: 28:15 Yeah. (laughing) Yes.

Ryn: 28:16 That’s what they are.

Katja: 28:17 Yes. So you put them in a jar and in fact your teen even can do this for themselves. Although teen’s lives are busy, so mom, it’s fine. Or Dad, you know, if you do it for him, there’s no problem with that. But when you leave the house in the morning, you get those two, two heaping tablespoons of plenty.

Ryn: 28:37 Yeah.

Katja: 28:37 Put ’em in a mason jar.

Ryn: 28:38 Right. Like a quart size jar.

Katja: 28:38 And put it, put it in room temperature water. And you know, you don’t have to put it in the refrigerator but just, it doesn’t have to be hot at all. Just straight from the tap or the whatever, wherever you get your water.

Ryn: 28:52 Close it up and give it a good shake.

Katja: 28:54 Yup.

Ryn: 28:54 Herbs like to be shaken.

Katja: 28:54 And let it sit there. Let it sit there till your, your teen gets home from school when they get home from school, strain it out and drink it and make sure that they save some of it for, for whatever time of the afternoon and evening is the most painful for them, which might be right after dinner. That might be when it hurts most or right after a snack or whatever. And if they want to take this with them to school because the, the problem happens at school as well. Then set one up at night before they go to bed. Take that one to school, set one up in the morning before they go to school and drink that when you get home.

Ryn: 29:38 Yeah.

Katja: 29:38 Marshmallow root. Cold infusion has a very mild taste. It’s a little bit on the sweet side, it kind of tastes like peanuts, maybe a little bit or like rice.

Ryn: 29:48 Yeah. It’s kind of bland. It’s kind of carby.

Katja: 29:50 Yeah, yeah.

Ryn: 29:51 I don’t know.

Ryn: 29:52 What can you say about it?

Katja: 29:53 Kind of boring flavored. But……

Ryn: 29:55 Yeah, go ahead.

Katja: 29:56 I was going to say, but you could add cinnamon,

Ryn: 29:58 Right? Yeah, if it if it does get too, too…….

Katja: 30:02 Boring.

Ryn: 30:02 Sure. Let’s call it boring. If it gets too much that then yeah, cinnamon is a great addition there. Um, I like a bit of licorice mixed into there as well.

Katja: 30:14 You know……

Ryn: 30:14 Licorice is a very sweet herb. Not everybody loves the particular type of sweetness it has, but some people like it and you can mix a bit of that into there. And all of these herbs, the marshmallow root, the cinnamon, the licorice there, they’re all gonna be demulcents. They’re all going to be extra moistening. They’re going to help that fluid be soothing and calming and they’re all anti-inflammatory in different ways. So actually the combination of them may be more effective than just the single one. But you know, if you only have the resources for one herb or if its just what you’ve got around right now, then yeah, marshmallow is probably the most important out of these three for heartburn in particular. Cause this problem is hot and irritated and red and marshmallow is the opposite of all of those things.

Katja: 30:59 Yeah. And it’s soothing on contact. So it’s going to work really fast. But it also has, marshmallow in particular, has vulnerary action that is actually gonna help the lining of the esophagus build itself to be strong and healthy. And any damage that has been caused in the esophagus where you’re actually spurring that to heal instead of just sort of like neutralizing the acid. So, well there’s a wound there, but it’s not going to hurt anymore. Like let’s just heal that wound. That’s pretty amazing.

Ryn: 31:37 Yeah.

Katja: 31:38 So that’s very excellent.

Ryn: 31:40 Cool. So that’s the first thing you want to, you want to get a handle on.

Katja: 31:43 Yeah. And I think that it’s really like do that really right away because for me, especially when we’re working with teens, the most important part is to give them something that works and to do that really quickly. Something that they can see a result really fast so that you get their buy in. So then there are a handful of other things that are going to be important. And I think the first one in my mind is trying to help manage that stress as well. And there are so many ways to do this, but here’s what we did for my daughter because it was very, very portable and easy and fast. So we made her an elixir, which is a tincture with honey in it. So this is alcohol. But it’s there, it’s not gonna be tons of alcohol. So as long as that’s fine for you and your teen, then that’s great. But it’s, you know, we would blend together tinctures that that she found really effective for her particular stress and put, put something together that was really delicious and also that she knew would work very quickly for her stress. So those, you know, when she would empty a bottle, then we’d make a fresh one. So we had many different blends. But one of them was wood betony, tulsi, goldenrod and sage that was mixed with honey that was an infusion of linden flowers and hawthorne berries. So that is a really lovely blend. And let me just tell you a little bit about it. Tulsi is lovely for any kind of stressful situation from I feel like I got up on the wrong side of bed this morning to my teacher’s screaming at me to you know, there was an active shooter drill at school today, which is nonsense that we even have to do that. But like there’s a lot of stressful things that happen at school for kids these days. Even before we just talk about the fact that it’s a bunch of teenagers in a building together and they’re not always nice to each other.

Ryn: 34:21 (laughing) Yeah.

Katja: 34:22 So, so tulsi, is just really such a good friend for all of those situations and really helps to deal directly with the cortisol levels in the body and help your body manage that better. So, so this is like a physiological stress intervention. Even not just like, oh, that’s nice for my emotions, but it’s like really, really strong stuff. It’s, it’s excellent. And if, if you wanted, you could also do a tulsi infusion in a water bottle if they didn’t want to take the marshmallow with them to school all day. That would be fine too. Cause tulsi is great as tea as well.

Ryn: 35:09 Yeah.

Katja: 35:10 But this is just a really making an elixir like this really does help you to have something that you can take right away that will be beneficial right away. Okay. So after the tulsi was wood betony, which I know we’ve talked about before, wood betony is one of my favorites for really getting you down out of your abstracted cerebral thinky place and grounded back in your body. For me when I’m really stressed out, I can get very stuck in that abstracted place and my mind can get going with a bunch of different scenarios, none of which have even happened yet. And it can, I can really get spun up. So wood betony and here, I mean, Stachys Officinalis really helps me to counter that sort of tendency in myself. And here skullcap can be a really good friend to help with that kind of work as well. In this, in the bottle that I happened to grab that we didn’t have skullcap in that one, but skullcap would be beautiful in this formula as well. Goldenrod is in here, not just because it is wonderfully supportive to the kidneys and when you’re under stress, you know, your kidneys really suffer. But also because goldenrod is my favorite plant for trudging. Like, I didn’t like it yesterday. I’m not liking it today and I’m not going to like it tomorrow either. You know, like just have to get up and do it. I don’t want to, is it vacation yet? Is it the weekend? I can’t believe I still have homework. When am I gonna be done? I just want to be finished with school. That kind of a situation really, uh, is tailor made for goldenrod. And if instead of school you were thinking my job, like when is it? The weekend I’m tired of working. I don’t really like this job, goldenrod will help you

Ryn: 37:22 Yes.

Katja: 37:22 with that as well.

Ryn: 37:24 Yes. Goldenrod is our friend.

Katja: 37:24 Yeah, absolutely. Alright. And then linden and hawthorne are both soothing, both to the nervous system but especially to the heart. And if you are the kind of person who gets like a racing heart or palpitations with your stress and I think that’s very common for teens to have that pattern of stress induced acid reflux and like really strong, uncomfortable palpitations. And linden and hawthorne are just so helpful here. Linden, we love to call a hug in a mug. And it really is true. And if you think about a teen in a stressful situation, maybe they don’t want a hug from mom anymore because that’s not cool or whatever. But, but like having something that gives them that feeling of calm and of safety and of you know, I’m cared for, that’s really, really good. And hawthorne also, hawthorne in particular, is really lovely for sadness and grief and I think we can overlook the role that that plays in teenagers lives actually because it’s, when you’re a teenager, you’re really going through a period of like you’re growing up, you’re striving for independence, you’re striving for what’s on the other side of being a kid, but you’re also like, there’s a little bit of a mourning there too. There’s like the loss of your childhood and the loss of that innocence. And I don’t think that a lot of teens will admit that in the teenage state. It, when you get older, you start to admit that. But just because they won’t admit to it necessarily doesn’t mean that they aren’t feeling it. And I think having support for that grief is, is really important in a blend like this. Not only that, but again, they’re in a building full of other teenagers and they’re just not always nice to each other and there’s a lot of grief associated with that as well. So, so this, this was one of the blends that, that we made, but there are so many different blends that you can come up with. You know, any of the nervines that you and your teen really love, any of the plants that are really great allies for your kiddo, even if it is just peppermint, it doesn’t matter. Like any of the calming plants that they can just reach for in an immediate sort of a situation to help them manage that stress.

Ryn: 40:14 It’s funny that you mentioned peppermint. A lot of times when people talk about heartburn, they’ll have this big warning, oh, if you have any GERD or heartburn, don’t take peppermint because it will make it worse. We do see that happen. Maybe half of the people who have heartburn or have GERD or had other, other names for a similar problem. And in those cases it’s because the peppermint is such a potent relaxant it that it’s actually inducing relaxation in that lower esophageal sphincter and again, leaving it a little bit open. So this tends to be the case for people who already have a bit of a tendency towards laxity present in their system. And especially those who are also stressed out at the same time. So, that said, it’s not necessarily or not in our experience anyway, a 100% of the time is peppermint contraindicated for these kinds of problems.

Katja: 41:11 Right.

Ryn: 41:11 You would just maybe introduce it carefully and thoughtfully and not throw a whole pile of it into your heartburn solution tea

Katja: 41:16 (laughing)

Ryn: 41:18 right off the bat.

Katja: 41:20 Yeah. And you know, you know too, like Amber loved peppermint, that was one of her favorites. And so that was a plant that she already had a relationship with and that she could really call on when she needed it. So if you don’t like peppermint at all, then obviously don’t put that in. But if you already know that you love peppermint and you find it calming and soothing, then then go ahead and lean on that.

Ryn: 41:49 So some other stuff that might be relevant here can again have a bit to do with the food. You know, so we had thought a little bit about quality of the food previously and how when there are a lot of refined carbs in particular coming in and that can contribute to the forces that lead to that burn in various ways. So that’s part of it. Another one is that some things that you’re not getting in your food can also lead to this, to this being a problem. For instance, you need to make hydrochloric acid out of something and that actually includes chloride. And so not getting sufficient salt in the diet can actually be something behind low stomach acid. Also your body will react to some things by producing more stomach acid, particularly your consumption of protein. So if somebody is trending in a low protein diet direction, probably unintentionally, probably just because hey, it turns out that flour and things made from it don’t really have a whole lot of protein in there, then, then that can in turn kind of lead to the body’s not getting the, the push or the signal to produce as much stomach acid as it actually should be doing.

Katja: 43:01 Yeah. And you know, actually with regard to the salt, a lot of kids love potato chips or French fries or whatever, but that’s not the kind of salt that we really want them to get. We really want them to be getting a much more complex mineral structure in their salt. So, you know, Himalayan pink salt or like a Celtic gray sea salt is a way better option for them. We also really like Megamag or Concentrates, which are two products made by trace mineral research to help increase your mineral content. And a little bit of that added to water every time that you drink it is, is a really good way to make sure that you’re getting enough of all the minerals and not just the sodium chloride that you’re gonna have on your potato chips. Vegetables are so key here too. Like really just sort of getting back to basics, meat and vegetables at, at the meals, trying at least when your kids are home, to stay away from simple carbs and to really focus on a high quality protein and high quality vegetables. And when they’re out at school and they’re gonna eat whatever they’re gonna eat, then you know, fine. But at least if when they’re home, we really make sure to put an emphasis on good quality food. It’s not as convenient as ordering a pizza, but it, it is, but they, they don’t have the margin of error if they’re eating school food or whatever. They really, their bodies are really depending on having their food at home be super high quality.

Movement & Sleep

Ryn: 44:54 Right. Yeah. So we’ve seen this kind of direct connection between food and stress coming, coming to the front here. So those are two of the points of our, our compass of things we look at when we’re trying to investigate or to maintain health, food, stress, the others were movement and sleep. So we kind of covered movements a bit just in terms of thinking about alignment and the way that we sit or stand and how that can cause pressure to build up inside the system. So let’s talk about sleep finally then.

Katja: 45:24 Well, actually let’s say one more thing about movement and that most schools don’t have gym class anymore.

Ryn: 45:32 Oh Man.

Katja: 45:32 And, or if they do, they only have it like one day a week. So it’s really important to make sure that your kiddos are getting movement in their day and they might not love that. I mean, you might have a kid who loves sports and then that’s great, but you might not. And making sure that they’re moving their bodies, that is a really important part of stress management. It’s a really important part of the overall physical function. And if your household is not a movement oriented household, then see what you might be able to do to fix that. And some ideas would be to obviously like talk to your teen and find out what kind of movement they would be willing to engage in. It might be as simple as some yoga or something like that. But they might be more apt to do movement if there’s some really fun stuff. I know that when we had our lira hanging in the living room, our previous apartment had a higher ceiling and we could do that. Lira is a steel hoop that hangs from the ceiling and you do circus acrobatics in it. That Amber was much more likely to be physically active when that was available to her. And these days a yoga sling or a yoga trapeze is really popular and you can hang them from the doorway. And so you might, your teen might be enticed by basically anything that can hang upside down in is what I’m really getting at here.

Ryn: 47:10 Yeah man. Well, we built those monkey bars in the hallway.

Katja: 47:11 Yeah.

Ryn: 47:11 That was pretty good.

Katja: 47:12 Yeah. That’s pretty good. Yeah. So, so anything like that or any creative way that you can get your family moving more, up to and including ditching your couch, just get rid of it, you know, and put yoga mats all over the living room floor instead.

Ryn: 47:30 Yeah. So anyway, get getting things, moving, getting things circulating, combating stagnation, wherever it may be found.

Katja: 47:38 Um hum.

Ryn: 47:38 All of these things that movement can do for you. All right, so then there’s sleep.

Katja: 47:42 Yeah and then sleep. Yeah. Here’s the thing. You guys, teenagers need a lot of it. They need like 12 hours of sleep every night and they are not getting it. But, but just think about it like…..

Ryn: 47:56 That’s a lot of work to grow all of those inches.

Katja: 47:58 Yeah. It just, they’re renovating their bodies. They’re going from a child body to a fully reproductively capable adult body and they’re doing all this renovation work while they’re still living in the body. Like, you know, it’s not like they’re a butterfly and they go dormant for a while in a cocoon and then they pop out and they’re a grownup. Like, that’s not how it happens. They have to live in it and renovate it at the same time. And if you’ve ever renovated your house while you were still living in it, then that’s the chaos that is a teenagers body and they, that’s why they need the sleep. So whatever you can do in your household to, to make it possible for your teen to sleep more, of course they probably won’t want to. Teens don’t love going to bed, it is not their favorite thing, as a generalization. But, but whatever you can do to make your house more sleep friendly during this time is going to be really, really good. You know, turning out the lights, putting up, putting up the strings of twinkle lights or whatever, and turning those on at, you know, 7:30 or 8:00 is, is a really good way to start that process. Making it easier for your kid to get their homework done earlier if possible. Even, you know, a lot of schools are starting school later for high schoolers, understanding that teenagers need more sleep. So, if you are the advocate type of parent, that might be something you could get involved in as well and your kids could get involved in that as well. But sleep is hard. It’s a struggle and frankly, parenting teenagers is a struggle every minute of every day. So…

Ryn: 49:58 But it will make, it will make it easier to cope with the stresses of the day and so that will reduce the likelihood for them to generate the heartburn. So.

Katja: 50:04 Yeah, it really, yeah, it really does. It really does.

Ryn: 50:08 And, and it’s something that you can track as well. Right. And that would be, that would be another thing to add that could be good to include in, in what’s going on here is, you know, whether you can get the kids to write it down or to keep a journal or use an app or something to track how this feels from day to day, or at least just to check in with them a couple of times a day and say, hey, how’s it going? How’s today on a scale of one to 10 and keep your own records if you need to.

Katja: 50:30 Yeah. I really like, there’s an app called Daylio. That’s my new favorite thing for tracking stuff. If your teenager is menstruating, there’s an app called Clue that is really excellent, that tracks all kinds of things, but sort of from the context of menstruation, both of these can help with mood as well. But anyway, you know, like it’s, it’s just, it’s really hard to parent teens and so there’s a lot of suggestions here that would be nice if you could get them to do it and you might not be able to get them to do it. And so in that case, cut yourself some slack. You know, they’re at an age where we can make suggestions and they get to choose whether or not they’re going to go along with that. And we can choose our battles and choose when it’s time for us to put our foot down and when not. But I would say that, um, put your foot down over the marshmallow cold infusion because that, that’s gonna work. It’s gonna work fast and, uh, all the rest of everything after that one is bonus, I think.

Ryn: 51:37 Hmm. Yeah. Well. Okay. So those are some thoughts for our teenagerly friends who have some burning hearts and hope that they cool down soon and feel happiness. And we’ll be back next week with, what are we talking about again?

Katja: 51:54 We’re talking about herbalism in the United States and how it’s not licensed.

Ryn: 51:58 Oh yeah.

Katja: 51:58 And it’s not the practice of medicine.

Ryn: 51:59 Right, right. That thing we say every time we start our podcast.

Katja: 52:03 Yeah, let’s talk about it. Let’s dig in.

Ryn: 52:04 Cool. So we’ll do that next time. Until then, we hope you enjoy and we hope you get to spend a lot of time outside and have lots of plants in your life.

Katja: 52:15 And drink tea.

Ryn: 52:16 Drink lots of tea,

Katja: 52:18 Alright you guys see you next week.

Ryn: 52:28 Bye!

The post Podcast 068: Herbs for Stress-Induced Heartburn in Teens appeared first on CommonWealth Center for Holistic Herbalism.

Podcast 068: Herbs for Stress-Induced Heartburn in Teens