Have you ever experienced heartburn? Lately? Frequently? Heartburn is the less-than-pleasant experience 15 million Americans undergo on a daily basis or the estimated 60 million who have an episode about once a month. And, unfortunately, heartburn is no April Fool's joke! Symptoms can involve a burning sensation in the chest, throat, and face that is usually worsened by either lying down or bending over. Symptoms may point to gastroesophagealreflux, which may involve the movement of stomach acid into the esophagus or to gastritis, an inflammation of the lining of the stomach. A stress event may trigger heartburn in some people (and the stress response is believed to be triggered in the brain). Because of the close connection between the brain and the gastrointestinal system, what stresses one system may result in triggering the stress response in the other system, as well, which can become a vicious cycle. Part 2 tomorrow.