What is GERD?
Anyone who has experienced heartburn, severe bloating, and stomach discomfort after meals knows how misearble one can feel. If so, it’s likely that you may be suffering from a gastrointestinal disorder like Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). This heartburn like feeling can refrain you from having your favorite food or even a coffee and a glass of wine. The good news is that this is treatable, and these symptoms can be managed through a healing plan that is most suited for your body. It is estimated that around 7% of the U.S population suffers from the most common symptoms of GERD leading to a decrease in the quality of life of such patients.
Gastroesophageal reflux disease is defined as a “digestive disorder condition that affects the lower esophageal sphincter (LES), causing reflux of stomach contents into the esophagus. It, in turn, is associated with various other symptoms like Heartburn due to acidity, laryngitis, regurgitation, asthma, cough, dental erosions and difficulty swallowing food. GERD being a prevalent disease is known to be caused by multiple facets of factors that involve Hiatal hernia, Obesity, and psychosocial influences, to be the major risk factors.
The standard treatment of proton pump inhibitors can alleviate symptoms in most patients. However, a significant portion of patients who have ongoing issues with GERD or have major side effects, look for complementary therapies like TCM, Acupuncture, and Ayurveda. Recently Acupuncture for GERD treatments are being used widely either standalone or with conventional treatment as a multi-targeting therapy to combat this disease.
Acupuncture for GERD
Acupuncture is known for its holistic approach in the treatment of the human body for centuries. Numerous studies have shown its effectiveness in alleviating symptoms caused due to gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). Even the patients who were found to be unresponsive to drug therapy saw significant improvements after receiving acupuncture care.
Acupuncture for acid reflux is known to improve the overall activity of the GI tract where it improves the activity of the esophageal valve whose proper functioning prevents acid reflux. Acupuncture also promotes gastric peristalsis and accelerates gastric emptying in patients with dyspepsia. It limits lower esophageal sphincter relaxation and reduces esophageal pain perception
The positive results are attributable, according to Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) theory, to the fundamental principles involved with the acupuncture point prescription and herbal formulation choice. Both selections treat the source of the disease and the symptom. A fundamental approach to TCM therapy, a proportion of each treatment focuses on symptomatic relief and another percent treats the underlying origin of the disease. In this research review, we’ll have a look at the acupuncture point selection and herbal medication prescription responsible for getting the high positive patient outcome prices.
TCM principles define that reflux esophagitis is frequently due to dysfunction of the gut, liver, and spleen. TCM principles also notate that emotional swings or dietary irregularities weaken the liver’s capacity to regulate the free coursing of qi, impairs the spleen’s ability to transfer and change grain and water, and damages the stomach’s capacity to keep the equilibrium of upward and downward bearing qi. Grain and water (i.e., food) from the stomach fail to be transformed into natural products and rather become toxic masses. When the downward flow of qi in the stomach is disturbed, it pathologically ascends. Because of this, the stomach contents backflow into the esophagus. Reflux esophagitis in TCM focuses on altering turbidity, harmonizing the stomach, and restoring the downward posture of stomach qi to stop counterflow. This focus restores normal operation of the lower esophageal sphincter (LES), enhances gastric motility, and enhances gastric emptying.
Can you prevent GERD symptoms?
The symptoms of GERD can hit you at any time of the day or night. And, it’s not always possible for you to go to a pharmacy and pop up a pill to find relief. Instead, you can try certain natural GERD home remedy solutions like chewing a piece of gum for 30 minutes to alleviate the burning acid creeping up your throat.
Some of the dos and don’ts are mentioned below that can be followed to prevent GERD symptoms.
Various lifestyle factors, including weight loss, eating your meals timely, sleeping with your head up can help alleviate the unwanted side effects caused by GERD.
Mustard, ginger, chamomile tea and fruits can help reduce the heartburn by neutralizing the acid in your stomach.
Avoid consumption of alcohol, coffee, citrus, chocolate, and smoking as these things can increase the acid content in the stomach aggravating the situation.
Real world case reports for GERD
Integrative Treatment of Reflux and Functional Dyspepsia in Children..
An 11-year old girl presented to the outpatient gastroenterology clinic with abdominal pain and chronic nausea from past one month. She also reported several days of school absence in the last month. She has initially treated with lansoprazole 30 mg a day for 4 weeks for acid suppression. However, her nausea and epigastric pain did not improve with these initial measures and parents were introduced to integrative treatment modalities such as Acupuncture for stomach problems.
After which the child started acupuncture treatments every other week along with a trial of gut-directed clinical hypnosis. Specific acupuncture and acupressure points were chosen to treat constipation, treat nausea, clears inflammation, and to tone SP and KI Qi acupoints. After a course of acupuncture, she felt significant improvement in her symptoms, with minimal nausea, excellent weight gain, and no further school absences.
Common pressure points to relieve Acid Reflux
These are some of the common pressure points to relieve GERD / Acid Reflux:
1. Central Venter/CV12/Conception Vessel 12 –
Location- CV12 is an acupoint located between the breastbone and belly button halfway from the base of the breast bone.
Benefits – Stimulating CV12 points can help relieve indigestion, heartburn, constipation, stomach pain, abdominal spasms, and emotional stress.
Contradiction – avoid stimulating this point if you are suffering from high blood pressure, cancer, heart disease.
2. B23 or Bladder 23 and B47 or Bladder 47-
Location -Located on the lower back at waist level, 2 to 4 finger-widths away from the spine.
Benefits- Activating this point can help prevent acid reflux and other digestive disorders like fatigue, indigestion, stomach ache, abdominal pain, and impotence.
3. St36 or Stomach 36/Three Mile Point –
Location – One of the most crucial points found below the kneecap, present at a distance of one finger width outside of the shin bone.
Benefits- stimulating this point can help treat gastrointestinal discomfort, nausea, vomiting, heartburn, stomach ache, bloating, diarrhea, and constipation.
4. P6 or Pericardium 6
Location- Located in the middle of the inner wrist at a distance of two-three finger widths from the wrist crease.
Benefits – Applying pressure on this point helps in relieving GERD, stomach ache, indigestion, upset stomach, motion sickness, nausea, anxiety, headache, and carpal tunnel syndrome.
5. Sp4 or Spleen 4 is
Location- Can be found on the medial aspect of the foot above the arch in the depression to the base of the first metatarsal bone.
Benefits: Activating this point can help in relieving GERD, stomach ache, abdominal pain, indigestion, and diarrhea whereas, it is also found effective in treating cysts, fibroid, and irregular menstrual cycles.
Location: G6 is located behind the head near the temple, 2 finger-widths away from the tip of the ear.
Benefits: Helps prevent acid reflux, nausea, toothache, heartburn, colds, flu, fever, eye problems, and tremors.
7. LV 3 or Liver 3
Location: LV3 can be found in the depression point between the big and the second toe of the foot where both toe’s meet.
Benefits: Stimulating this point can help treat digestive disorders like diarrhea, acid reflux, constipation, nausea, and vomiting. It also helps treat headache, dizziness, menstrual issues, chest pain, anxiety, irritability, and insomnia.
8. CV6 or Conception Vessel 6
Location- Located below the navel; two finger widths away from it.
Benefits- Activating this point can help in Hernia, general weakness and muscle pain, impotence, uterine bleeding, and irregular menstruation, stroke, asthma, and lower back pain.
Evidence suggests that acupuncture is effective in treating Gastroesophageal reflux disease and might also play a therapeutic role in combination with conventional medicines available for the treatment of GERD. As previously discussed conventional treatment may pose side effects in patients with GERD due to which it lacks patient compliance. Whereas, Acupuncture is considered to be an effective and safe treatment for GERD without showing any adverse side effects and is also known to have beneficial effects when combined with other factors that include dietary changes, lifestyle modification, and disciplined stress-free life. However, due to the small sample size and poor methodological quality of the included trials, more research on acupuncture as a stand-alone approach should be conducted.