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Heart Burn (GERD)

What is GERD? Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) is a chronic digestive disease. GERD occurs when stomach acid or, occasionally, stomach content, flows back into your food pipe (esophagus). The backwash (reflux) irritates the lining of your esophagus and causes GERD.
Both acid reflux and heartburn are common digestive conditions that many people experience from time to time. When these signs and symptoms occur at least twice each week or interfere with your daily life, or when your doctor can see damage to your esophagus, you may be diagnosed with GERD.

What is the treatment for GERD? Proton pump inhibitors : omeprazole(Prilosec). A PPI blocks the secretion of acid into the stomach by the acid-secreting cells. The advantage of a PPI over an H2 antagonist is that the PPI shuts off acid production more completely and for a longer period of time. 

What is the side effect of Proton pump inhibitors (PPIs)? Despite their ease of availability and common use, PPIs can have severe side effects. The long-term consequences of chronic PPI use include the potential increased risk of hypocalcemia, hypomagnesemia, Clostridium difficile infections, and pneumonia. Community pharmacists are poised to provide evidence-based recommendations and educate patients about the benefits and risks associated with chronic PPI use.

What is the natural way to treat the GERD? According to the World Health Organization and the National Institutes for Health, TCM therapies, such as acupuncture, are useful in the treatment of many digestive disorders, including GERD and heartburn, food allergies, gastritis, ulcers, irritable bowel, and colitis.

Unlike Western medicine which views GERD as having a primary cause, which is similar in all cases, traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) has many different diagnoses, known as patterns, for this condition. From the TCM perspective, the gallbladder, pancreas, liver, and spleen work to aid the stomach’s digestion. When these organs function improperly the digestive system becomes imbalanced and acid reflux and heartburn occurs.

GERD is also viewed as being caused by emotional stress disrupting the chi, or vital energy flow. Stagnation of chi leads to gastric acid reflux. Emotional stress stimulates one of the cranial nerves which control stomach secretion (the vagus nerve), which leads to an increase in secretion of various gastric fluids as well as stomach muscle contraction.

TCM therapies, such as acupuncture, Chinese herbal medicine, Tai Chi, and Qigong may be used in conjunction in the treatment of GERD. These TCM therapies can help to lower gastric acid, adjust esophageal pressure and balance the functions of the digestive organs.

Once your acupuncture physician assesses and determines a diagnosis, a pattern becomes apparent. Your acupuncture physician will then structure an appropriate therapy plan to address the underlying cause as well as alleviate the symptoms. In addition to TCM therapies, a stress management plan and dietary modifications will be recommended by your acupuncture physician to minimize acid reflux and heartburn.

TCM therapies reduce emotional stress and restore healthy chi flow. During acupuncture therapy, stimulation of particular acupuncture points inhibits the esophageal sphincter relaxation, which reduces acid reflux and occurrence of heartburn. Acupuncture points located in the stomach area, on the lower arms and legs and on the head or back may be selected for treatment.Along with TCM therapy treatment, restoration of proper digestion may also require lifestyle modifications, such as balanced sleeping patterns and moderate regular exercise.