Acid reflux is sometimes referred to as heart burn and can affect up to 20 percent of the population and is often caused as an unwanted side effect of drugs such as prednisolone. When stomach acids rise up into the esophagus it can produce a burning discomfort in the chest region and hence has been called heart burn. The acid can also come up in large amounts leading to vomiting of acid. Sometimes the cause is mechanical like a hiatus hernia and other times the due to obesity or gall stones. Many patients seek alternatives to Gaviscon which only helps the symptoms. Acupuncture and Chinese herbs for acid reflux have been used for centuries to treat this problem.
In fact acupuncture can help treat many digestive problems including ulcers, stomach pain, bloating, nausea and vomiting. Patients often ask if the cause of the reflux is mechanical how could acupuncture help with that? From an acupuncturist’s point of view, structural imbalances in the internal body such as hernias are in essence no different to an external structural problem such as a torn tendon or arthritic joint. Research has confirmed that acupuncture can rejuvenate damaged tendons that otherwise would have normally have had surgery. The use of acupuncture needles when appropriately inserted into the correct points to treat the cause of the imbalance can stimulate rejuvenation in the tissues, whether it be in the muscles and tendons or part of the internal organ system. Ancient physicians used acupuncture to improve health on all levels and by accessing the energy of the meridian system which can influence a number of body areas at the same time.
Some of the meridians on the body travel into the stomach and esophagus and hence that is why sometimes an acupuncture point on the leg can ease stomach pain or reduce heart burn.
From a scientific perspective, acupuncture influences the time that the esophageal sphincter stays open or closed and regulates gastric secretions. Acupuncture also influences the hormones and metabolism associated with acid reflux.