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Natural Heartburn and Acid Reflux Treatments (Chinese Herbal Medicine and Acupressure)

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TCM or Traditional Chinese Medicine has been treating heartburn effectively for more than 3,000 years. With Chinese herbs and acupressure, the symptoms of heartburn not only can be relieved, but more importantly, they can adjust the esophageal pressure, reducing gastric acid, and balancing the digestive organs in the process thereby helping the person recover from the cause of reflux.

Acid reflux and Stagnation of Liver Qi

Because the direction of Qi (pronounced chee) in the body is controlled by the Liver energetic organ system, acid reflux is usually associated with “Rebellious Qi” (meaning that the flow of energy is moving in the wrong direction) and imbalances in the Liver organ system. Typical signs of acid reflux related to Liver Imbalances can include:

• Acid reflux occurring at night
• Feelings of anger or frustration
• Acid reflux related to stress

The smooth flow of vital energy or Qi in the body is the responsibility of the Liver; when this organ’s not functioning optimally, digestive issues may occur. Moreover, when the energy of the Liver becomes strangled, Stagnation of Liver Qi comes about causing stagnant energy which leads to inflammation and heat in the body.

Chinese Herbal Medicine Therapy: Free and Easy Wanderer formula

Acid Reflux and Spleen Qi Imbalances

The Spleen, in Chinese Medicine, plays a major role in digestive problems. In Chinese medicine, the function of the Spleen can be damaged by poor eating habits and result in Phlegm and Dampness forming more blockages for the digestive process and making it likely for the Abdomen to develop digestive problems:

• Uncooked foods or raw foods
• Juices
• Carbohydrates and simple sugars
• Fried foods
• Cold foods

To limit the development of acid reflux lifestyle choices should be made. These include:

• Good Posture: Try sleeping on your left side or raise your upper body by five to six inches when you sleep. Avoid stooping or bending from the waist just after meals.
• Stopping Smoking
• A Good Diet: Heartburn can be reduced with Chinese food therapy. Stay away from alcohol, fried and fatty foods, spicy hot foods, sour foods, acidic fruit juices, coffee, peppermint, and tomato
• Modifying your eating habits: acid reflux can be eased by following good eating habits. Chew well and eat slowly. Big meals should be avoided. Eat moderately. Consume five to six small meals each day. Dinner should by three hours at least before bedtime. After eating before doing any activity sit down in an upright chair and rest for half an hour.
• Stress Management: Stress can be reduced by performing deep breathing techniques, meditation, Qi, gong, and Tai Chi. Take into account Enlightened Emperor formula and other adaptogenic formulae.

Acid Reflux from the Western Viewpoint

The LES or lower esophageal sphincter is the lowest end of the esophagus. For healthy people, it usually stays closed preventing the backing up of acidic fluid into the esophagus each time the stomach contracts. The LES is actually an area of relatively high pressure and not a muscular valve.

The esophagus is closed off by the high pressure which prevents the food and acid content in the stomach from flowing back to the esophagus. Heartburn occurs when the stomach acid backs and the esophagus fails to function properly. According to traditional Chinese medicine the Pancreas, Spleen, Gallbladder, and Liver work together to aid in the digestion of the Stomach. Excess amounts of stomach acid travels up to the esophagus causing heartburn or acid once these organs function improperly.

What conditions can bring about heartburn and acid reflux?

Contributors can be anything that irritates the esophagus or reduces lower esophageal pressure:

• Pregnancy
• Hiatal Hernia: An anatomical abnormality, hiatal hernia develops when a part of the abdomen protrudes through the diaphragm and up into the chest. This type of hernia usually happens if one is overweight or during pregnancy.
• Tobacco
• Obesity
• Stressful lifestyles
• Eating late
• Overeating
• Poor diet

Related complications and symptoms:

Frequent occurrence of acid reflux or heartburn may lead to complications in the esophagus like a pre-cancer lining of the esophagus known as Barrett’s esophagus and ulceration. An inflamed esophagus may result in bleeding and pain during swallowing.

Other symptoms can include:

• Coughing and respiratory issues such as chronic bronchitis, pneumonia, and asthma
• Sour taste in your mouth
• Burning pain when swallowing
• Nausea
• Voice change
• Sore throat

According to TCM theory, it is important to note that habitual use pharmaceutical antacids can impair the natural digestive process and result in digestive problems (Stagnation of Food Qi). A lot of health problems can develop over time if food is not appropriately being digested in the stomach. These may range from very slow digestion to severe health disorders. This is the reason why a lot of people choose a natural treatment such as Chinese herbal therapy that can resolve acid reflux by targeting the underlying cause of the acid reflux instead of merely inhibiting stomach acid, as this type of acid is needed for normal digestion.

Acupressure for Acid Reflux:

1. The Inner Gate or Neiguan (P6) acupressure point can be tonified. The P 6 point is found above the wrist’s transverse crease between the tendons palmaris longus muscle and the flexor radialis muscle.

2. Pressure can be applied to the Union Valley or Hegu acupressure Point (Li 4). The point is found on the hand‘s dorsum between the 1st and 2nd metacarpal bones on the radial side of the middle of the second metacarpal bone.

3. To address Liver Qi Stagnation release of pressure on the Liv 3 point (Great surge or Taichong) is required: Liv 3 is found in the foot’s dorsum, in the depression just distal to the first and second metatarsal bone’s junction.

4. Even pressure is applied to the middle of Epigastrium or Shongwan point (Ren 14): this point (Ren 14) is situated on abdomen’s midline just above the umbilicus.

Scott Paglia is a licensed and board certified acupuncturist in Bellingham, WA and provides master level pulse diagnosis, Chinese herbal medicine and acupuncture in Whatcom County, WA.

Written by Valerie

December 6th, 2016 at 9:04 pm

Posted in Acupuncture

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Traditional Chinese Medicine Modes of Treatment For Acid Reflux and Heartburn

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From time to time, a lot of persons tend to suffer from acid reflux and heartburn. These two conditions can occur when acid from the stomach goes back (reflux) into the esophagus. If you’re suffering from a reflux that keeps on recurring (chronic acid reflux), then you need to see a doctor to determine if any erosions have occurred in your esophagus. An existence of these erosions is a sign of gastro esophageal reflux disease or GERD. The treatment for GERD, in traditional Chinese medicine, includes Chinese herbal medicine and acupuncture. They can also be very helpful in treating chronic cases of heartburn.

Heartburn and chronic digestive upset usually are the result of nervous tension, stress, and poor diet. Acupuncture can balance your nervous system as it is an extremely soothing therapy. The meridians and organ systems that are considered for the treatment of acid reflux and GERD include those associated with the Pancreas, Spleen, Stomach, and Liver. Acupoints linked to these meridians and organ systems are stimulated with slender acupuncture needles to make the digestive system function more efficiently and slow down the production of stomach acid. Acupoints that are known to help relieve stress are also needled in order to heal the nervous system.

Acupoints often used for the treatment of acid ingestion and heartburn include the Pericardium 6, Liver 3, Liver 14, and Ren 12. They can lessen the stuffiness that comes with BERD and relieve stress in the body.

In Chinese medicine terms, chronic heartburn is usually caused by an overreaction of Liver on the Abdomen and Spleen. This leads to the production of inflammation and acidity (Heat). Jia Wei Hsiao Yao San or Free and Easy Wanderer Plus is one of the most commonly used herbal remedy for this disharmony. The formula can potentially alleviate discomfort in the digestive system while at the same time relieve nervous tension, stress and anxiety. Free and Easy Wanderer Plus is another very popular remedy and is often used to treat a slew of health issues all at once, that is, if it is indicated based on the patient’s pulse and tongue signs and symptoms.

Homeopathic nux vomica 200c can be also considered for the treatment of heartburn and acid indigestion. For those open to it, homeopathy can be a powerful therapy especially when combined with herbs and acupuncture.

For those suffering from chronic heartburn, the person’s lifestyle and diet should be taken into consideration. Chronic heartburn can be aggravated by eating difficult-to-digest foods and fatty, rich foods. In treating this condition, Chinese medicine practitioners will recommend avoiding or limiting the intake of dairy and milk products. While it may temporarily ameliorate heartburn symptoms, dairy and milk products can block the digestive system, and cause more problems than they solve. GERD can be aggravated by drinking too much alcohol or coffee. For those who are prone to heartburn, spicy foods can be a problem.

Chinese medicine and acupuncture treatment in Cleveland usually leads to a satisfactory and significant outcome. These treatments can reduce or even cure acid indigestion and heartburn completely. Typically, for best results, a total of four to six sessions once a week are advised.

Written by Valerie

November 8th, 2016 at 5:08 am

Posted in Acupuncture

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Treating Acid Reflux with Acupuncture

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All of us suffer from indigestion from time to time. But when it occurs daily or maybe a few times a week, you need to see a doctor to prevent it from significantly affecting your overall health. When it comes to attaining strong digestive function, traditional Chinese medicine offers a strong foundation for a lifetime of good health. A healthy digestive system processes food in a timely manner, efficiently absorbs essential nutrients and effectively removes all waste products.

Acid reflux is a digestive condition that that affects around 16 million Americans each year. This issue involves stomach acid flowing back and up to the esophagus and brings about symptoms such as inflammation, heartburn, discomfort and if left, untreated for a considerable amount of time, can lead to conditions such as Barrett’s esophagus.   And certain cases of Barrett’s esophagus can lead to esophageal cancer.

Western Medical Approaches

Typical Western modalities for acid reflux include H2-receptor antagonists like Tagamet, proton pump inhibitors like Prilosec, and antacids such as Tums.   While they provide short-term relief, these medications have no long-term benefits. Also, they are not designed to treat the underlying cause of acid reflux. The body starts to have other issues when the person takes prescription and over-the-counter antacid for a long time.

Chinese Medicine

Acid reflux, from the perspective of Chinese medicine, is known as the reversal of abdominal qi (or chi) since the flow of abdominal qi normally moves down, not upwards. This condition is resolved by TCM through the identification and treatment of the basic root issue causing the acid reflux, apart of course, from the treatment of its manifested symptoms.   Reversal of stomach qi develops when the sphincter/valve of the digestive system called the lower esophageal sphincter that lies between the stomach and esophagus doesn’t properly shut.   The LES shuts and closes when we swallow food. The food passes into the stomach and when the developing stomach pressure becomes greater than the pressure at the other end of the LES, digested food and stomach acid flow back through the valve and up to the esophagus resulting in a burning sensation and damaging the esophageal wall.

Acid reflux has symptoms that include:

-Belching and nausea
-Chronic barking cough
-Chronic bad breath
-Swallowing difficulty
-Bitter or acrid taste in the mouth

Acid Reflux – Common Causes

Excessive Alcohol and Smoking

Drinking alcohol and smoking cigarettes can cause severe harm to the digestive system. Both these substances disrupt the pressure of the LES (lower esophageal sphincter).


The womb expands as the fetus grows causing the digestive organs to push upwards. This adds pressure on the LES forcing the pressure gradient to change and force abdominal contents to back up into the esophagus.

Excess Stomach Weight

When the stomach carries extra weight, it adds more pressure on the LES causing it to open partially. This then allows stomach contents to flow back into the esophagus.

Food Allergies

Intolerance or being allergic to certain foods, (dairy and wheat being the most common food allergens) signifies that the stomach acid is not strong enough to properly break down food. The ensuing bloating, gas and inflammation that happen generate pressure in the stomach that becomes greater than in the esophagus causing the contents of the abdomen to rush back into the esophagus.

Hiatal Hernia

The esophagus traverses through the diaphragm and connects to the abdomen; when the top of the abdomen slides up or rolls into the diaphragm, hiatal hernia develops. The effect of hiatal hernia on the body is such that the valve that opens and shuts to let food pass to the stomach, fails to close normally. Hiatal hernia is quite a common issue and can be treated as well as prevented from coming back by initiating changes in lifestyle.

Emotional Upset and Stress

Stress that is chronic and badly managed causes high amounts of cortisol stress hormone to flow in the bloodstream. Too much amounts of cortisol is not good for the body since it can shut down the digestive system as the body needs to redirect its energy into supplying energy and blood to the lungs and heart.

Hypochlorhydria or Low Stomach Acid

This may sound a contradiction but low stomach acid can actually lead to acid reflux. Interestingly, this is the most common reason for acid reflux in the United States. Autoimmune conditions, B12 deficiency and anemia are just some of the many reasons for low stomach acid in the body. Age is also a very common factor for poor stomach acid level. Our cells in the abdomen don’t function well when we advance in age. One of the best ways to counter this problem is to take nutritional supplements everyday.

Eating the Wrong Foods

Our digestion is impacted in a major way by what we eat. Too much consumption of the American diet, (which means a diet high in sugar, alcohol, red meats, dairy products and high fat foods) make us unhealthy. These foods can cause gas and bloating that add pressure in the abdomen making the pressure there greater than on the esophagus causing acid reflux.

Tips to help You Minimize or Even Cure Acid Reflux

-Lose weight: if your weight is above normal, you need to modify your lifestyle to enable you to lose weight.
-Stop wearing tight restrictive clothing,
-Try not to squat nor do other activities that cause compression in the abdomen
-If you have a history of hiatal hernia, then during lunch, eat your largest meal and take a lighter meal during dinner. This tip can also benefit people who want to lose weight.
-Eat a lot of healthy foods including nuts, grains, vegetables, fruits and other foods that help the body reinforce the digestive system. Stay away from alcohol and cigarettes.
-Manage and reduce stress: some of the ways you can reduce and/or manage stress properly is by performing relaxing activities such as yoga, qi gong or tai chi. Acupuncture is the best way to remove stress from the mind and body. It also helps bring back balance to the nervous system.
-Don’t eat late at night: after eating dinner, permit about 3 hours to pass before going to bed.
-Eat more frequent but smaller meals as too much eating can push the abdomen upward.


Vickery Health & Wellness
18455 Burbank Blvd #306
Tarzana, CA 91356
(818) 578-6730

Written by Valerie

August 17th, 2014 at 4:35 am

Posted in Acupuncture

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