Heartburn is a condition that many of us will deal with at least once in our lives. How many of us has not had too many potato chips, French fries, or too much beer on the occasion? Chronic heartburn affects more than 54 million adults in America. Heartburn is a major symptom of a medical condition called Gastroesophygeal Reflex disorder (GERD).

Heartburn is a burning sensation which radiates from the mid to upper chest, caused by acidic stomach contents which irritate the unprotected lining of the esophagus. In healthy people, the lower end of the esophagus (lower esophageal sphincter) normally stays closed, preventing acidic fluid in the stomach from backing up into the esophagus every time the stomach contracts. In fact, the lower esophageal sphincter is not a distinct muscular valve but rather an area of relatively high pressure. The high pressure keeps the esophagus closed off from the stomach and helps prevent stomach acid and food from traveling back up the esophagus. When the esophagus fails to function properly, the stomach acid backs up and heartburn occurs.

What conditions contribute to heartburn?

Anything that decreases the lower esophageal pressure or irritates the esophagus might contribute to heartburn.

  • Hiatal Hernia: A hiatal hernia is an anatomical abnormality in which part of the stomach protrudes through the diaphragm and up into the chest. This condition often occurs during pregnancy and if one is overweight.
  • Improper Diet: Consumption of fatty and spicy foods. Caffeine, chocolate, tomatoes and peppermint may also contribute to heartburn.
  • Eating late and overeating
  • Stressful lifestyles
  • Overweight
  • Tobacco
  • Pregnancy

Related symptoms & complications:

Other symptoms of heartburn may include sore throat, voice change, nausea, burning pain when swallowing, and a bitter or sour taste in your mouth, coughing and respiratory conditions such as, asthma, pneumonia and chronic bronchitis.

Ways to treat Heartburn:

Traditional Chinese Medicine has been treating heartburn effectively for thousands of years. Acupuncture and Chinese herbs can help not only reduce the symptoms of heartburn, but more important to help recover from the cause of G.E.R.D. by adjusting the esophageal pressure, lowering gastric acid, balancing the functions of the digestive organs. Based on Traditional Chinese Medicine; the liver, gallbladder, spleen and pancreas work together to help the stomach’s digestion. Once these organs function improperly, excessive stomach acid travels up to the esophagus and causes heartburn. Treatment always involves balancing and soothing the nervous system and altering the body PH to a more alkaline environment. Acupuncture treatments at their core serve to address any underlying issues that may be affecting the patient. This grassroots analysis is vital to helping the patient firstly as a preventative and secondly helping keep the patient symptom free for longer periods of time.

Bibliography: American Gastroenterological Association


Posted in: Acupuncture

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