Acid Reflux

Heartburn and Chinese Medicine

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) has been resolving heartburn effectively for thousands of years. Acupressure and Chinese herbs can help not only reduce the symptoms of heartburn, but more important to help recover from the cause of reflux by adjusting the esophageal pressure, lowering gastric acid, and balancing the the digestive organs.

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Acupressure Points for Acid Refluxessential oils for acupressure

Learn the correct way to apply pressure to acu-points here! 

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Constitutional Imbalances Contributing to and/or Causing Heartburn

Liver Qi Stagnation and Acid Reflux
Herbs for Liver Health

Because the Liver energetic organ system controls the direction of Qi (Chi) in the body, acid reflux is often associated with a Liver (TCM) imbalances and "Rebellious Qi" (which simply means that the energy is flowing in the wrong direction).  Common indications of acid reflux associated with Liver Imbalances can include:

  • Acid reflux associated with stress
  • Feelings of frustration or anger
  • Acid reflux occurring at night

The Liver is responsible for the smooth flow of Qi (vital energy) in the body; when the Liver is not functioning at its optimal capacity, digestive issues may ensue. Additionally, when the energy of the Liver becomes constricted, Liver Qi Stagnation develops. Thus stagnant energy tends to create heat and inflammation in the body. Consider our organic Free and Easy Wanderer formula

Related Article: Liver Qi Stagnation

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Earth Element Imbalances and Acid Refluxrestore-the-middle-way-organic herbal spleen tonic

The Earth Element of Chinese medicine includes the Stomach and Spleen energetic organs. In Chinese medicine, both the Spleen and Stomach are central in digestive issues. The Stomachs' energy naturally flows downward if functioning correctly. If the Earth Element is out of balance, the Liver can attack the vulnerable organs and disrupt their proper functions. Poor eating habits with the consumption of the following foods can damage the Spleen function in Chinese medicine and cause Dampness and Phlegm creating further obstructions for the digestive process and a propensity for the Stomach to develop digestive disorders:

  • Cold foods
  • Fried foods
  • Simple sugars and carbohydrates
  • Juices
  • Eating after 7 PM
  • Raw foods or uncooked foods

Related Article: Spleen Qi Deficiency

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Lifestyle Choices That Reduce the Occurrence of Heartburn

  • Stress Management: Tai Chi, Qigong, Meditation and deep breathing techniques can all help to lower stress. Consider an adaptogenic formula such as Enlightened Emperor formula.
  • Diet: Chinese food therapy can aid in reducing heartburn. Avoid chocolate, tomato, peppermint, coffee, acidic fruit juices, sour, hot spicy, fatty and fried foods and alcohol.
  • Change your eating habits: Good eating habits can help to ease acid reflux. Eat slowly and chew well. Avoid eating big meals. Do not over eat; only allow your stomach to be moderately full. Eat 5-6 small meals daily. Eat your dinner at least 3 hours before bedtime. Sit down in an upright chair and rest 20-30 minutes after eating prior to any activity.
  • Stop Smoking
  • Posture: When sleeping, elevate your upper body by 5 - 6 inches or try sleeping on your left side. Avoid bending from the waist or stooping just after meals.

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Acid Reflux from the Western View

In healthy people, the lower end of the esophagus (lower esophageal sphincter) normally stays closed, preventing acidic fluid in the stomach from backing up into the esophagus every time the stomach contracts. In fact, the lower esophageal sphincter is not a muscular valve but rather an area of relatively high pressure.

The high pressure keeps the esophagus closed off from the stomach and helps prevent stomach acid and food from traveling back up the esophagus. When the esophagus fails to function properly, the stomach acid backs up and heartburn occurs. Based on traditional Chinese medicine; the Liver, Gallbladder, Spleen and Pancreas work together to help the Stomach's digestion. Once these organs function improperly, excessive stomach acid travels up to the esophagus and causes acid reflux or heartburn.

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Health Conditions Contribute to Acid Reflux and Heartburn

Any health condition that decreases the lower esophageal pressure or irritates the esophagus might contribute to acid reflux:

  • Hiatal Hernia: A hiatal hernia is an anatomical abnormality in which part of the stomach protrudes through the diaphragm and up into the chest. This condition often occurs during pregnancy and if one is overweight.
  • Improper diet
  • Overeating
  • Eating late
  • Stressful lifestyles
  • Obesity
  • Tobacco
  • Pregnancy

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Related Symptoms and Complications of Acid Reflux

Other symptoms may include:

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

If heartburn or acid reflux occurs frequently, it may cause complications in the esophagus, such as ulceration and Barrett's esophagus, a pre-cancer lining of the esophagus. The inflammation of the esophagus may cause pain and bleeding during swallowing.

It is worth noting that pharmaceutical antacids suppress the natural digestive process and cause digestive disorders (Food Qi Stagnation) with habitual use according to Chinese medical theory. If food is not being properly digested in the stomach, many health disorders can develop over time; they can range from slow digestion to serious health concerns. This is why many prefer to utilize natural Chinese herbal therapy which can address acid reflux by addressing the root organ imbalances which cause acid reflux rather than suppressing stomach acid, as stomach acid is necessary for proper digestion.

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References

Ahuja A, Ahuja NK. Popular Remedies for Esophageal Symptoms: a Critical Appraisal. Curr Gastroenterol Rep. 2019;21(8):39. Published 2019 Jul 10. doi:10.1007/s11894-019-0707-4

Patrick L. Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD): a review of conventional and alternative treatments. Altern Med Rev. 2011;16(2):116‐133.

Lee LA, Chen J, Yin J. Complementary and alternative medicine for gastroparesis. Gastroenterol Clin North Am. 2015;44(1):137‐150. doi:10.1016/j.gtc.2014.11.011

The Efficacy of Neiguan (P6 Point) Acupressure in Patients With Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD). Retrieved from clinicaltrials.gov

Gao LJ, Bai XH. Zhen Ci Yan Jiu. 2016;41(2):150‐153. Clinical Trial of Acupuncture Treatment of Gastro-esophageal Reflex Disease by Needling Dorsal Segment of the Governor Vessel (acupressure point REN 12)