Gastroesophageal reflux (GERD) is a condition that describes the unintentional and uncontrollable regurgitation of the stomach contents back into the esophagus. Otherwise known as acid reflux, GERD is a common gastoentorological disease affecting millions of Americans daily. The American College of Gastroenterology has estimated that roughly 15 million of us experience GERD every day.
Western medicine views GERD as symptomatic of one underlying cause, merely the weakening of the lower esophageal sphincter (LES). This is a valve located in your throat that regulates how much you can eat and which helps keep food down. When the LES is defective in any way, digestive juices from the stomach can rise back up into the esophagus. Continued influx of these acidic substances can corrode the throat and eventually cause cancer. Many people with the condition report experiencing a “heartburn,” which is a burning sensation that radiates around the middle to upper chest. While occasional heartburn is not cause for alarm, frequent episodes are indicative of an impaired esophagus.
Treatment for the condition typically involves the repeated use of antacids and/or anti-reflux medication.
For many people, however, alternative medicine provides a far safer and less expensive therapy for acid reflux. The World Health Organization (WHO) along with the National Institutes for Health (NIH) have validated the use of traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) for the treatment and management of GERD. These TCM methods include acupuncture, Tai Chi, and Qigong.
The efficacy of TCM in providing relief for patients with GERD is found in its approach to the condition. Practitioners of TCM view acid reflux as the product of several factors, including how the gallbladder, pancreas, liver, and spleen all function together and individually. This makes it highly different from Western medicine.
Mother Nature’s micronutrient secret: Organic Broccoli Sprout Capsules now available, delivering 280mg of high-density nutrition, including the extraordinary “sulforaphane” and “glucosinolate” nutrients found only in cruciferous healing foods. Every lot laboratory tested. See availability here.
From the TCM perspective, GERD occurs when the chi (or the human life force) is disrupted. The stagnation in energy stimulates the cranial nerves that control stomach secretion. This prompts an overabundance of gastric fluids as well as induces multiple muscle contractions.
TCM therapies address this by balancing the function of the digestive organs and allowing chi to flow smoothly around the body. Practitioners of TCM determine a diagnosis based on the patterns that are apparent in the patient. This suggests that there is no one effective treatment plan. Each TCM therapy is based entirely on that specific individual and is therefore unique. It is not unusual for a patient to be given a complete and holistic treatment recommendation, including a stress management plan and several dietary modifications.
One of the more commonly referred to treatments for acid reflux is acupuncture. This specific therapy stimulates particular pressure points that inhibit the excessive production of gastric juices. These pressure points are located in the stomach area, on the lower arms and legs, and on specific areas around the head and/or back. The practitioner will decide whether to use all of these points or only specific areas for treatment.
It must be emphasized that TCM – being an alternative path – does not always provide immediate results. Patients will often see notable results only after a few weeks, and only through the diligent acceptance of the treatment plan. Take note as well that TCM therapies may also require other lifestyle modifications such as sleeping regularly and exercising more. Ingesting Chinese herbs (normally taken as a tea) is also to be expected. (Related: 15 Natural Home Remedies for Acid Reflux.)
The benefits of such a course of action though is that patients acquire a more disciplined approach to their health. While the effects of alternative therapies regarding GERD do take time, the overall recurrence rate for the condition is significantly lower compared to patients who solely depend on Western medicine.
There is also the medical costs to consider. It is estimated that billions of dollars are spent annually on GERD medication – a number, medical doctors say, that will continue to increase as more people practice bad lifestyle habits.