An estimated 60 percent of people in the United States will suffer from heartburn over the course of a year and 20 to 30 percent of Americans suffer symptoms on any given day.
What causes heartburn is actually a muscle in your lower esophagus falling down on the job. The muscle, your esophageal sphincter, usually opens to let food you’ve eaten pass to your stomach, then closes to prevent food and stomach acid from flowing back upward. However, in the case of heartburn or esophageal reflux, the sphincter hasn’t closed properly. This allows the contents of your stomach to irritate your esophagus causing that burning sensation. Overtime, chronic heartburn can deteriorate the base of your esophagus, causing a precancerous condition called Barrett’s Esophagus.
There are a number of cause of heartburn, including eating the wrong foods, stress, overeating, and obesity. In addition, the esophageal sphincter tends to get weaker with age.
Treatment options: Traditional Medicine Vs. Eastern Medicine
The traditional treatment of heartburn includes acid blocker and antacids such as Prilosec, Pervacid, or Tums. These drugs are not cures and only mash the symptoms without addressing the cause. They can also cause unwanted side effects including abdominal pain, nausea, diarrhea and headaches. Symptoms can even become worse after discontinued use.
According to Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), acid reflux is related to a dysfunction in the Stomach meridian. Acupuncture works to help direct Stomach energy (qi) downward and corrects the pathology. TCM and Acupuncture do not have any negative side effects and can help to lower gastric acid, adjust esophageal pressure and balance the functions of the digestive organs in addition to reducing stress, which very well may be contributing to your heartburn.
Several studies have shown acupuncture to be effective in the treatment of GERD, indicating that symptoms may remain resolved even after treatment stops.
Here are a few tips on how you can treat heartburn naturally
- Helpful foods include: pineapple juice, apples, almonds, ginger and tumeric are all helpful in neutralizing stomach acid and easing heartburn
- Take a good probiotic to help repair your digestion and repopulate your gut with good bacteria
- Some people can eliminate heartburn by simply drinking water. Water can help to wash the excess acid that splashes into the esophagus
- Stress relief: if your acid reflux is caused or exacerbated by excess heat in your body as a result of stress, anger or anxiety, the most important thing would be to address the source of your stress. It that’s not an option, you can also try meditation, Tai Chi/ Qigong, getting more rest and spending more time on relaxing activities.
- Try Acupuncture, with no side effects and studies to back up its’ success, it’s worth a try!