TCM for Acid Reflux
Acid reflux is very common in today’s world. Statistics show 60 percent of the adult population in the United States will experience some type of gastroesophageal reflux disease or GERD at some point in their lives. Currently there are seven million people in the U.S. living with some form of GERD.
Acid reflux is the acute form of GERD, but it can become chronic and create much bigger problems for the sufferer. Acid reflux can affect anybody, including infants. It occurs when the muscle at the end of the esophagus, the lower esophageal sphincter (LES), doesn’t close properly or tightly enough. This allows digestive juices and stomach content to “back up” into the esophagus. Modern medicine treats acid reflux with medications like Omeprazole. However, long term usage of this medication can to side effects.
The alternative to pharmaceuticals with harsh side effects is Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). TCM has been around for nearly 3,000 years and it has a very good track record for treating this condition. TCM uses things like acupuncture, single herbs and herbal formulations to treat acid reflux. According to TCM theory, acid reflux is usually caused by emotional upset and ingesting the wrong foods.
Acupuncture is a medical modality that uses tiny, hair-thin needles to stimulate the body’s own ability to heal itself. For acid reflux, there is an acupuncture point that works wonders. This point is known as Pericardium 6. It is located two thumb widths above the wrist crease on the underside of the arm, between the two visible tendons. Pericardium 6 is frequently used to calm anxiety, relax the chest and decrease rebellious energy or Qi (pronounced “chee”) from rising up in the esophagus. So, based on the theory acid reflux is caused by emotional distress, Pericardium 6 would be an excellent choice to stimulate. Acupuncture, in general, is very effective at calming the mind and quieting anxiety. When the mind is calm, the stomach will settle also.
Acupuncture is just one component of TCM. The use of herbs and herbal formulations is also an integral part of TCM. Licorice root, also known as gan cao, is one such herb that can help with acid reflux. Gan cao is used in many herbal formulations, but by itself it can also soothe the esophagus with mucus. The mucus contributes to cellular healing of the esophageal lining over time. Green tea is another herb that can be used to treat acid reflux. Green tea stimulates the lower esophageal sphincter and prevents stomach acid from refluxing back into the esophagus.
There are specific herbal formulations that can be used to combat acid reflux as well. One of the more commonly used formulas is liu jun zi tang. The herbs in this formula help to calm the stomach and expel excess dampness. The one nice thing about TCM is it is completely customizable. So a practitioner can develop a customized formula based on the patient’s needs. This is much different from the cookie cutter approach to healing utilized by modern medicine.
If you or somebody you know suffers from acid reflux or GERD, consider giving TCM a try.
Postoperative nausea and vomiting, often caused by the body’s response to anesthesia, is a very common symptom. Depending on the severity, this can prolong a patient’s recovery time and the length of their hospital stay as well as cause complications to the surgery depending on the type and extent of nutrient-depletion caused by the vomiting.
Medications aimed at treating nausea are expensive and can cause side effects of their own, but a growing body of research is showing acupuncture can be an effective alternative.
A 2013 report published in the Public Library of Sciences measured the efficacy of acupuncture in treating postoperative nausea and vomiting by statistically analyzing the results from over 1200 patients. Acupuncture was determined to be a safe, efficient and economic prevention and treatment method.
In 2017, a study published by the National Institutes of Health looked at the effectiveness of the specific acupuncture point, P6, in treating postoperative nausea and vomiting for women after gynecological surgeries. In the study, 47 women were given a wristband that applied pressure to P6 during the first 12 hours after their operation. Fifty other women, the control group, were given traditional nausea medication during and after their operation.
The study found the wristbands were effective in preventing vomiting, and even more effective in significantly reducing the intensity of the nausea the women experienced. The researchers concluded wristband P6 acupressure application is an excellent alternative to pharmaceutical methods of treatment.
Other studies have shown acupuncture is effective in treating nausea caused by chemotherapy, gag-reflexes induced during dental work that can limit the ability of dentists to provide care, and morning sickness during the beginning of a woman’s pregnancy term.
Acupuncture and acupressure are natural methods of treating nausea, allowing people to limit the amount of pharmaceuticals entering their system, which can be especially beneficial in the case of postoperative care or chemotherapy, where the body is already being bombarded with synthetic drugs. With acupuncture, patients can avoid complicating their health by introducing further side effects that can arise from synthetic drug use.
Acupuncture can also be done in conjunction with Western treatments, which can reduce the dosage of pharmaceuticals a patient needs and provide even better overall results. Acupuncture is also often used as part of a multifaceted treatment plan that can include Chinese herbal tonics and exercise or movement plans. Traditional Chinese Medicine, TCM, often employs these three practices together to get the best results. Traditional Chinese medical thought looks at the body holistically, and therefore addresses ailments holistically, treating the root problem instead of just the presenting symptoms.
By learning more about the uses and availability of acupuncture, you can make personalized decisions about your healthcare should you find yourself in one of these circumstances. If you would like to learn more, or to seek treatment for yourself or a loved one, contact a licensed acupuncturist in your region.
No matter what you’re trying to accomplish, setting goals is one way to help you get there. Often, when people have no goals, they lack motivation, focus and direction. Setting goals also provides a benchmark to determine whether or not you are succeeding. But how do you set goals if you’ve never done so before? Or what if you have set goals in the past, but you didn’t achieve them? Do you just give up and tell yourself that goal setting doesn’t work? That’s one option, but let’s put things into perspective.
1. Set goals that motivate you. What does this really mean? The goals you set for yourself should be important to you, making you feel there is value in achieving those goals. Setting goals irrelevant to your life, will not inspire you to take action. To determine if a goal is important to you, write down “why” this goal matters.
2. Break the larger goals down into smaller, more specific goals. For instance, if your goal is to lose 60 pounds over the next year, break that down into smaller more achievable goals. Set a goal of losing five pounds per month for the next 12 months. This makes the larger goal more feasible and accessible.
3. Write down your goals. The physical act of writing down a goal makes it tangible and real. And writing those goals in ink versus pencil, makes it more permanent. Also, be conscious of the wording you use. In place of “I would like to” use “I will”. This gives your goals more power
4. Make an action plan to achieve your goals. In other words, don’t just focus on the end result. Spend time working on the steps it will take to get you to your ultimate goal.
5. Adjust your goals periodically. Goals may change as you age or as you start to change. Your goals should be adjusted accordingly, allowing for flexibility and growth.
6. Be specific. Even though your goals may change periodically, you still want to be as specific as possible when setting a goal. For example, don’t just set a goal of “getting fit”. Set a goal of running a 5K marathon by a certain date that will help you achieve the fit and healthy lifestyle you are ultimately striving for.
7. Don’t give up. Many times, when we are faced with failure, we tend to give up on our goals. But some of the most successful people in history failed numerous times before they got it right. And they all had to stop, adjust and reevaluate their goals as they went along. The difference between winning and losing is staying the course.
If there is something you want to achieve, set a goal to get there. And above all, never give up. We are capable of doing and achieving so many things in our lives. All it takes is determination and goals! And you know, a little Acupuncture to help us stay focused doesn't hurt either... ;)
February 5th marks Chinese New Year in 2019! The year of the Earth Pig is said to bring with it prosperity and good fortune since the Pig is a symbol of wealth in Chinese culture. That doesn't mean you should be ready to spend spend spend, but if you feel ready it could be a good year to move ahead on big purchases or projects. This can also be a year of incredible healing and vitality and we experience wealth of mind, spirit and body along with the rest!
Note that February 5th marks a small price increase and some coding changes to my services. You can see my fully coded fee schedule and updated prices HERE.
Think good thoughts, come in for some Acupuncture to help attune your body to the new Lunar Year and enjoy life in the Year of the Pig!
Rebecca M H Kitzerow is a Licensed Acupuncturist practicing in La Center, Washington. With over a decade of experience she has won 10 Nattie consumer choice awards from Natural Awakenings Magazine since 2014.