Heartburn is a major symptom of a medical condition called Gastroesophygeal Reflex disorder (GERD). More than 54 million adults in America are suffering from this frequent condition, just like you. (Based on the survey from the National Heartburn Alliance in 2003).
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. 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.
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
Related Symptoms & Complications:
Other symptoms of heartburn may include sore throat, voice change, nausea, anxiety, burning pain when swallowing, a bitter or sour taste in your mouth, coughing and respiratory conditions such as, asthma, pneumonia and chronic bronchitis. If heartburn reoccurs frequently, it may cause complications in the esophagus, such as ulceration and Barrett’s esophagus, a pre-cancer lining of the esophagus. The inflammation of the esophagus may cause pain and bleeding during swallowing.
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. Additionally, we advise you to incorporate the following steps in the treatment plan.
- Stress Management: tai chi, qigong, meditation and deep breathing techniques.
- Diet: Avoid chocolate, tomato, peppermint, coffee, acidic fruit juices, sour, hot spicy, fatty and fried foods and alcohol.
- Change your eating habits: Eat slowly and chew well. Avoid eating big meals. Don’t over eat, only allow your stomach to be moderately full. Eat 5-6 small meals daily. Eat your dinner at least 3 hours before bedtime. Sit down in an upright chair and rest 20-30 minutes after eating prior to any activity.
- Weight Control: Please talk with your practitioner about our weight control program.
- Stop Smoking: Please consult with you practitioner about how acupuncture and Chinese herbs, can help with a smoking cessation program.
- Posture: When sleeping. elevate your upper body by 5 – 6 inches or try sleeping on your left side. Avoid bending from the waist or stooping just after meals.
- Clothing: Avoid tight belts, clothing and bras that increase pressure on your stomach and chest.