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- Professional Acupuncture & Physical Therapy205 W. 2nd Street
Duluth, MN 55802(218) 724-3400
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Did you know that acupuncture can help with a number of digestive issues? Yes, it’s true!
Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) occurs when stomach acid frequently flows back into your esophagus – the tube connecting your mouth and stomach.
If you suffer with this, or you’ve ever suffered with it, you might have felt hopeless and frustrated at times that there are no known causes and the only known treatments are either medications or dietary adjustments.
Wouldn’t it be nice to know what causes it in the first place, so that you can start treating and healing the root cause?
Enter Chinese Medicine (CM). CM has known for thousands of years that the blueprint of many physical manifestations is an imbalance of our Qi (energy). Reflux esophagitis in CM focuses on transforming, harmonizing, and restoring the normal movement of the stomach Qi to prevent it “rebelling” upwards. The treatment with acupuncture and/or herbs focuses on restoring normal functioning of the lower esophageal sphincter (LES), enhancing gastric motility, and improving gastric emptying.
Stomach Qi usually rebels because of:
- Eating in a hurry
- Eating when stressed or angry
- Burning the midnight oil
- Eating while walking or standing, repeatedly and over time
- Drinking too much water with a meal or shortly after which diluted digestive enzymes makes digestion very difficult.
If we take a little look at the most common lifestyle factors which cause or exacerbate GERD, or the upward rebelling of Stomach Qi, we can see that simply doing the opposite of what causes it will be helpful. Also introducing calming practices like meditation, walking in nature, and of course coming for acupuncture treatment. Because whilst changing our habits will help to prevent GERD from returning, healing the problem and lessening the damage done by the issue is the forte of CM.
Quick At-Home Tip: Something very simple you can do at home to help yourself is after every meal, stroke down the midline from the bottom of your rib cage to the top of your belly button for about two minutes gently. This will help the Qi to move downwards instead of rebelling upwards.
Here’s some more good news: In a 2018 study Acupuncture was trialled over a period of 6 weeks with daily treatment for GERD, with a few days break in between each week of treatment and the TCM control group fared significantly better than the Western medicine control group. There were also far fewer side effects (virtually none) in comparison to the control group who were taking Proton Pump Inhibitors and other medications for GERD.
The conclusion of the study – compared with PPIs or Prokinetics therapy alone, TCM single therapy can better improve the clinical total effective rate and symptom relief and decrease the recurrence rate and adverse events in the treatment of NERD. Our results suggest that TCM will be a promising alternative therapy for NERD patients in the future.
So, if you, or someone you know is suffering from GERD, there may be hope on the horizon! Give us a call at (218) 724-3400 to see if we can lend a helping hand.
Xiao J, Yang Y, Zhu Y, et al. Efficacy and Safety of Traditional Chinese Medicine on Nonerosive Reflux Disease: A Meta-Analysis of Randomized Controlled Trials. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2018;2018:1505394. Published 2018 May 24. doi:10.1155/2018/1505394
In TCM theory, digestion represents the central axis around which everything else revolves. It provides our main source of (post-natal) energy from the breakdown and absorption of food. Even minor disruptions in this system can progress to significant and varied health problems.
Treatment, of course, depends on the severity of the problem. As long as emergency situations are ruled out or addressed, one can turn to Chinese medicine for prevention, treatment and maintenance. And the power of self-care can never be understated. Acupressure is one of our best self-care tools when used appropriately. While the needles (and the added effect of electrostimulation of needles) are generally considered a stronger approach to energy medicine than acupressure, acupressure alone has proved extremely beneficial. For example, in a study of 70 hemodialysis patients with constipation where acupressure was administered 3 times/week for 4 weeks, there was a significant improvement in bowel function .
So here are 3 Acupressure points that you can press to help you digest:
LARGE INTESTINE 4, “union valley”
Location: fleshy (and often achy) depression between the thumb and first finger
Use to: regulate intestinal function.
Stimulation of this point has been shown to both increase and decrease gastric motility depending on what’s needed. So, it can be used for both constipation and diarrhea.
CONCEPTION VESSEL 12: “middle controller”
Location: about 4 inches above navel
Use to: regulate stomach function, support energy
It has been shown to cause muscle relaxation via the somatosympathetic pathway, and inhibits gastric acid secretion which is extremely beneficial to GERD patients.
STOMACH 36: “3 mile leg”
Location: about 3inches below knee cap and about 1 inch towards outer edge of leg
Use to: strengthen digestion, build blood and immunity
According to some studies, it may improve upper and lower abdominal symptoms by restoring impaired ‘slow waves’ of the digestive tract via the vagal pathway. Electroacupuncture on this channel has been shown to enhance gastric motility and blood flow by regulating hormones (such as motilin and somatostatin) that directly affect digestion.
Benefits have been shown to be intensity dependent, so massage these points as often as needed. Just be sure to get in for some acupuncture where we can give these points (and more!) the extra attention they may need!
From a Speech By Angeles Arrien
With each flap of a wing, a goose creates an “uplift” for others to follow. When you see geese fly in a “V” formation it allows the geese to fly 71% further than if each bird flew alone.
People who share a common direction and sense of community can get where they are going quicker and easier when they are working together.
One of the reasons geese honk is to encourage those in front to keep up speed.
We need to make sure our honking is encouraging. When we are working with others, encouragement is often helpful to get the job done smoothly and quickly.
If a goose happens to fall out of formation, it will suddenly feel the resistance and drag of flying alone and fall back into place.
If we are on a certain path, and we attempt to go at it alone without help or support, our efforts may be reduced. It is easier to accept the help of those who are going in the same direction, and give help to others along our route.
When the lead goose tires, it will fall out of formation and move to the back of the flock, allowing another to fly in the point position.
Everyone has different skills, resources, and unique gifts to offer. It is important to take turns and share the hard tasks.
When a goose is wounded, shot or sick, two geese drop out of formation and follow it down to help protect it. They stay until it is able to regain strength enough to fly. Then they catch up with their flock or join another formation.
If we have enough sense as the geese do, we stand by each other in difficult times as well as when we are strong.
Transcribed from a speech given by Angeles Arrien at the 1991 Organizational Development Network.