Many people experience heartburn and acid reflux from time to time. This happens when acid from the stomach washes back into the esophagus. When this tendency to have heartburn becomes chronic, and your doctor finds signs of erosion in the esophagus, this is an indicator of GERD, or gastroesophageal reflux disease. Acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine can be very useful in addressing GERD and chronic cases of heartburn.
Chronic digestive upset and heartburn are often a result of poor diet, stress, and nervous tension. Acupuncture is very soothing and balancing to the nervous system. Specific meridian systems that are treated are the Liver, Stomach, and Spleen-Pancreas. Points connected to these organs and meridians are used to calm down the production of acid and to make the digestive system function more efficiently. Points that are stress-relieving are also included to address and to heal the nervous system.
Commonly used acupuncture points for treatment of heartburn and acid indigestion are Ren 12, Liver 3, Liver 14, and Pericardium 6. These points can relieve the stress and the sensation of stuffiness that are associated with GERD.
In terms of Chinese medicine, chronic heartburn is frequently a result of the Liver overacting on the Spleen and Stomach, which can produce Heat (acidity and inflammation). One commonly used formula for this disharmony is Free and Easy Wanderer Plus (Jia Wei Xiao Yao San). This remedy has the potential to relieve digestive discomfort while also addressing anxiety, stress, and nervous tension. It is a very commonly used remedy and it can address a whole host of complaints at once, if the formula is indicated based on a person’s tongue and pulse.
Another good remedy for acid indigestion and heartburn is homeopathic nux vomica 200c. Homeopathy works well in conjunction with acupuncture and herbs, for those who are open to it.
If you have chronic heartburn, it is also important to take a look at your diet and lifestyle. Really rich, fatty foods that are difficult to digest can aggravate the condition. In Chinese medicine, we also suggest reducing your intake of milk and dairy products. While milk may temporarily relieve symptoms of heartburn, in the long run we believe dairy products clog the digestive system, and cause more problems than they solve. Drinking coffee or an excessive amount of alcohol can also aggravate GERD. Spicy food can also be a problem for people who tend to have a great deal of heartburn.
Usually, with acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine, people see a significant and satisfactory improvement in their tendency to have heartburn and acid indigestion within four to six weekly sessions.