Most people suffer an attack of heartburn occasionally, particularly if they have overindulged on food and drink. In most cases heartburn and acid reflux that causes it can quickly be remedied with an antacid tablet and the problem is forgotten.For many people however, that terrible burning sensation occurs much more frequently and becomes more than just an occasional annoyance. So how concerned should you be if you are a sufferer and what exactly are heartburn and acid reflux anyway?When you eat, your stomach automatically produces acid so that you can break down and digest your food. The problem occurs when some of your stomach contents, which are highly acidic flow back into your gullet or esophagus that transports food to your stomach. This is known as acid reflux and it causes the burning pain and distress which are the symptoms of heartburn.Under normal circumstances this backflow or reflux is prevented by a ring of muscle that allows food to enter the stomach and then closes retain it in the stomach. Occasionally stomach contents do reflux, either because of pressure in the stomach or because the muscle becomes weakened and does not close properly.When these acidic stomach “juices” contact the relatively sensitive lining of the esophagus they irritate and damage it, causing the burning sensation. If this contact is infrequent there is no problem as the esophagus lining quickly recovers and no harm is done.Regular contact however, does not give the esophagus chance to recover and this is when the problem becomes a chronic condition, which in extreme cases can eventually lead to esophageal cancer. So, if you do suffer regular bouts of heartburn you should be concerned and seek medical advice.Fortunately there are several ways that acid reflux can be treated.Conventional medication such as antacids for occasional attacks and more powerful drug-based medication for chronic conditions. These all act by neutralising or reducing the stomach acid that is produced.There are concerns about taking these types of medication as (a) they only produce temporary relief, (b) reducing stomach acid must affect your digestion and absorption of the nutrients essential for your health and wellbeing and (c) people are increasingly concerned about the adverse, potentially harmful side effects caused by drug-based medication.If you are someone who has these concerns, then like thousands of sufferers, you could explore the alternative that natural remedies and treatments offer. These have the advantage of treating the causes of your acid reflux and not simply the symptoms of your heartburn, allowing you more positive control over your problem.Furthermore, recent research has resulted in the development of a totally natural, holistic program of treatment which has produced amazing results. Thousands of former sufferers are claiming to have cured their heartburn and acid reflux permanently. How good is that?Surely this must be worth further investigation.Most conventional treatments for acid reflux and heartburn are temporary because they treat the symptoms and not the root cause of the problem. So, if you want to successfully and permanently rid yourself of your heartburn then you must identify and address all the factors that contribute to the problem i.e. you must treat it holistically.