Soothing the BurnAug 10, 2023
Gastro Esophageal Reflux Disease, also called acid reflux or heartburn, is a common digestive disorder, affecting about 20% of the population in the US. When you have heartburn, stomach acid bubbles up through the lower esophageal sphincter and irritates the unprotected lining of the esophagus connecting your stomach and mouth. Although occasional heartburn can happen to anyone, GERD is chronic and persistent, and can have serious consequences. As well as being painful, GERD can lead to complications such as chronic cough, asthma, and over time can cause damage to the esophagus and increase your risk of cancer.
Conventional treatments for GERD include lifestyle advice to limit alcohol, coffee and spicy and fatty foods, to avoid eating before lying down, and to sleep at an incline. Medications are often prescribed for folks with symptoms that can’t be controlled by lifestyle, and range from over-the-counter antacids that neutralize stomach acid, to prescription proton-pump inhibitors (PPIs) that suppress the production of acid. In some cases, or where there is a structural issue, surgery might be recommended.
If we can take medications to control GERD, why not do so? Medications may provide symptomatic relief, but none of them, over the counter or prescription, cure it. Long-term use of both antacids and PPIs has been linked to a variety of serious health conditions, including cancer, loss of bone density and increased risk of fractures, and susceptibility to infections, especially in the digestive system. PPIs and antacids are designed for short term use only, but many people take them for months or even years, compounding the possibility of side effects.
There are also cases of GERD that don’t respond to medications. For many people, the issue is not that there is too much acid in the stomach, but that the stomach contents are going where they shouldn’t - up into the esophagus through the lower esophageal sphincter. Studies have shown that acupuncture treatment can significantly increase the function of the esophageal muscles and sphincter, resulting in less symptoms (source), and that acupuncture and herbs together can be as effective, or even more effective, than medications like Prilosec (source).
At Energy Matters, all our primary care providers, Amanda Rosenberg, Angela Coon and Prajna Choudhury, treat patients with GERD and acid reflux regularly. In addition to effective treatment with acupuncture and herb and supplement prescriptions, our practitioners offer support and practical guidance on making your lifestyle more ‘gut-friendly’ and integrating healthful changes into your busy life, so you can reduce and eliminate symptoms at the source. We’ll share some of their wisdom in an upcoming email, ‘Top Tips for Acid Reflux’!
If you’d like more information about acupuncture and treatment at our clinic for acid reflux or any other health concern, reply to this email or schedule a free 15 minute consultation.