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Healthy Cells is a local health magazine with most of the articles written by local professionals. People love to read about healthcare from their local health professionals. Each month includes a wide variety of articles on various topics.
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Using Acupuncture and Herbs for Natural Heartburn Relief

Many of us have experienced the uncomfortable feeling of waking up in the middle of the night with a sharp, stabbing feeling in chest and epigastric area. For some people, this may be accompanied by a feeling of fullness; some describe it as the feeling of having a pill stuck in your chest. For others, there may be a burning pain or sour belching. Whatever the symptoms, many people will spend night after sleepless night battling this discomfort and will often turn to medications such as Prilosec to offer relief. While these medications will work in the moment, they do little to get to the root of the reflux, and many people resort to long-term use. In addition, new studies have shown that over time, the use of Proton Pump Inhibitors (PPIs) like Prilosec and Pepcid AC have been linked to Vitamin B depletion, rebound gastritis, dementia, and even pneumonia.

For individuals who do not want to take these medications indefinitely, acupuncture and Chinese medicine provide an excellent alternative treatment, which, according to some studies, are actually more effective at treating GERD than medications. The reason for this is that acupuncture attempts to identify and treat the root cause of GERD, rather than just masking the symptoms.
    When a client comes for a session suffering with GERD, the first thing we do is make sure they have had a full evaluation with their primary physician to rule out other issues. If someone is experiencing reoccurring chest and epigastric pain, I will urge them to see their doctor to rule out cardiac issues, gallstones, pancreatitis, gastroparesis, etc. We need to know that there isn’t a more serious pathology at work as well. This is extremely important, as for some, women in particular, the symptoms of a heart attack will present with symptoms similar to those of acid reflux. Once they have been given a diagnosis of GERD, then we will work together to find natural treatments.

These are some treatments
that I suggest:
    Avoid foods that trigger — Many people who suffer from GERD will quickly become familiar with their trigger foods, the foods that leave them sitting up at night, full of regret. For many these foods include tomatoes, red wine, coffee, chocolate, garlic, and onion. High-fat foods and spicy foods can also lead to pain and discomfort. In Chinese medicine, foods that have warming properties will also trigger GERD. These include cinnamon, cumin, lemons, ginger, beef, lamb, black pepper, cloves, nutmeg, vinegar, and coconut. Foods that have cooling properties, on the other hand, will help lessen symptoms and are less likely to trigger an attack. These include avocados, asparagus, cucumber, seaweed, clams, and spinach.
    Manage stress — Stress plays a huge part in GERD, and people will often report that symptoms come on after a particularly stressful day or encounter. Acupuncture plays a key role in helping people reduce and manage stress. Acupuncture puts our body into a state of relaxation in which the parasympathetic nervous system can take over and our bodes can “rest and digest.”
    Get acupuncture — Acupuncture points on the abdomen are used, which help the lower esophageal sphincter to relax and close. In addition, points are added which help the stomach to empty, in Chinese medicine terms we call this “calming rebellious Stomach Qi,” and there is an entire classification of point prescriptions devoted just to this condition.
    Herbal therapy — There are many herbs which are useful for easing symptoms of GERD and I will recommend several formulas to patients in need. One quick, home remedy that I like are to take tangerine peels, coat them in honey, and then to dehydrate them using a food dehydrator or a low setting on your oven. These can then be eaten, like candy. This herb, called Chen Pi in Mandarin, helps to regulate the stomach and soothe heartburn.

    Michelle Pawley is a board-certified acupuncturist with a graduate degree in Traditional Chinese Medicine from The Acupuncture and Integrative Medicine College, Berkeley. Her office is located at 1617 E. Oakland Avenue, Bloomington. For more information or to set up a consultation, call her at 309-445-1502, or visit her online at bnacupuncture.com.


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