More popularly known as heartburn, acid reflux is a burning painful sensation felt in the chest (specifically in the esophagus with the pain traveling to the neck, throat, and jaw) that happens when gastric acid flows back from the abdomen to the throat.
Besides the chest burning pain, others acid reflux symptoms can include:
-A hoarse voice
What Causes Acid Reflux?
In physiological terms, acid reflux is the result of a badly functioning LES or lower esophageal sphincter. This is the terminal point of the esophagus that opens up to allow food and fluid material to enter the stomach and shuts tight the moment all these materials pass through the sphincter. While scientists are still debating, listed below are some of the reasons that are believed to cause the LES to malfunction in the first place. They include:
-Overeating, large meals
-Certain food triggers
-Inadequate number of digestive enzymes in the abdomen
What is Acupuncture?
Acupuncture is a medical procedure that originated in China thousands of years ago. It involves the use of needles pricked into the skin to bring back the body from symptoms of disease, injury, and illness.
Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) is based on the theory that energy pathways known as meridians are spread all over the body providing the tissues with vital energy. A blockage in any of these meridians will prevent the energy from reaching the tissues. This will lead to unhealthy states of mental, emotional and physical health.
TCM and acupuncture bases its workings on the principles of yin and yang energy, which is in balance in a healthy person. An imbalanced yin and yang, specifically, when yin is deficient and yang abundant, will lead to feelings of emptiness and desperation. This may result in the individual attempting to fill the emptiness with something addictive (a behavior or a substance) that causes pleasure, which may physically manifest as some sort of hyperactivity. However, instead of helping the person this hyperactivity only tends to increase the abuse, which further depletes yin energy. This creates more and more a craving for the addictive behavior or substance.
It was shown that needling of specific acupoints on the wrist led to the lessening of relaxations of the lower esophageal sphincter based on studies done by researchers at the University of Adelaide. This prevented the stomach acid and materials from welling back into the esophagus. This outcome proves that acupuncture can be a recommended treatment for acute and chronic acid reflux.
Acid reflux sufferers can also find acupuncture to be beneficial for them as the treatment can help remove emotional tension, anxiety, and stress, factors, which tend to exacerbate or even cause acid reflux. Acupuncture removes these stressors from the mind and body thus calming the nerves of the patient inducing them into a state of relaxation.
Acupoints Used to Treat Acid Reflux
St 36 acupoint – located on the lower leg; when stimulated, the St 36 can harmonize the abdomen and help lower any abdominal qi to that may be causing the reflux.
Pc 6 acupoint – this point is found in the forearm and when stimulated can help alleviate any pain and discomfort caused by heartburn and relieve nausea, as well. The needling of the Pc 6 point also can decrease the number of LES relaxations by as much as 40%.
Ren 12 acupoint – this point is located on the stomach. Needling it can lead to the harmonization of the abdomen and the resolution of any digestive stagnation.
How Many Acupuncture Treatments are Required for Acid Reflux?
The number of Acupuncture treatments needed to treat acid reflux will depend on how well the patient responds to the treatment and how severe his/her acid reflux is.
Talk to a qualified TCM practitioner or acupuncturist if you are interested in availing of acupuncture and Chinese medicine to treat your acid reflux.