Written by Eduardo Velasco Valido AP, LAc
Edit by Meg Frodel AP, LAc, HHC, EAMP
It is estimated that around 60 million Americans suffer acid reflux, 20% of the population. About 30 to 40% of Americans are diagnosed with a Helicobacter Pylori infection, which is the most common cause of peptic ulcers, Gaestrophageal Reflux Disease, and is known to be the strongest risk factor for gastric cancer.
The percentage of patients with H Pylori that continue to experience symptoms after antibiotic treatment is approximately 10-15%.
If you keep feeling symptoms after your antibiotic treatment or are interested in natural treatments, this article is for you!
Many people don’t know how highly effective Chinese Herbs and Acupuncture are for treating Acid Reflux disease and H Pylori.
In this blog post, we will discuss the best way to deal with this issue from a Chinese Medical point of view in a natural way.
What is Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)?
GERD is an acronym for Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease, a condition in which stomach acid rises up into the esophagus, causing discomfort and other symptoms.
Heartburn is considered a symptom of gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), characterized by a burning sensation in the chest caused by the regurgitation of stomach acid into the esophagus. It typically occurs after eating, lying down, or bending over.
In the acid reflux process, the lower esophageal sphincter (LES) becomes weakened or relaxed. This allows the stomach acids to travel up the esophagus, causing the burning sensation and other symptoms associated with GERD.
GERD can happen in combination with other symptoms like epigastric pain, abdominal discomfort, stomach pain, nausea, etc.
A long-term GERD can produce chest pain, heartburn, difficulty swallowing, hoarseness, dry cough, sore throat, regurgitation of food or sour liquid, and bad breath. Additionally, chronic GERD can lead to an increased risk of esophageal cancer, esophagitis, and Barrett's Esophagus.
What is Helicobacter Pylori?
Helicobacter Pylory is a very common bacteria found in the stomach, many people have it, but most don’t even develop symptoms.
Around 50% of the world's population is infected with H. Pylori
H-Pylori infection can be mild, but in many cases, H. Pylori can cause long-lasting irritation, pain, chronic acid reflux, swelling, and stomach ulcers…and can also lead to stomach cancer.
However, once you have the infection, H. Pylori can be difficult to eradicate from the stomach because it is capable of developing resistance to commonly used antibiotics.
You can get H. Pylori from:
Use of contaminated utensils
Contact with saliva or body fluids from other infected people
When your body is suffering from bacteria proliferation, it means that your defense system is not working properly: your body is out of balance.
What Can Chinese Medicine Offer You?
Traditional Chinese Medicine makes a diagnosis by evaluating the patient’s symptoms and signs, such as pulse, tongue, and body shape. The practitioner then makes a diagnosis based on the information gathered from the patient’s symptoms and signs. This process is called Chinese pattern identification. TCM also involves herbal remedies, dietary therapy, acupuncture, and massage to help promote healing.
Acupuncture, Herbal Remedies, and Nutritional corrections can bring your body back into a healthy balance, eliminating systemic disequilibrium that enables the proliferation of pathological bacteria in your body.
Traditional Chinese Medicine was created before the discovery of bacteria and viruses. It doesn’t make distinctions between treating acid reflux due to Helicobacter Pylori or other unwanted gut bacteria; instead, is able to differentiate, through Chinese Medical pulse-taking, what is the root of the gut imbalance and how to correct it.
Our goal is not only to kill the unwanted bacteria, but to re-create an environment where no unwanted bacteria can survive.
Herbal and Acupuncture Treatment for Acid Reflux:
Eating late at night, alcohol abuse, eating quickly, and eating while working for extended periods of time can cause Stomach Qi and/or Yin deficiency, which is often the cause of chronic GERD symptoms. This can also result in Qi stagnation in the Middle Jiao, which is typically associated with more acute acid reflux symptoms.
Consuming an improper diet or eating the wrong foods, such as eating too many fatty foods, may lead to an increase in phlegm in the Stomach, blocking the normal downward flow of Stomach qi. In addition, eating too many cold foods can produce the same pathological mechanisms.
Strong emotions unbalance as persistent anger, worry, or sadness can inhibit the proper functioning of the Spleen and Stomach Qi mechanism.
The most commonly seen is the Liver Qi stagnation, usually produced by the repression of emotions, like resentments and buried frustration of everyday life.
These feelings produce low levels of spasms in the smooth muscles, altering the normal function of the esophageal muscles and esophageal motility.
Patients with chronic Qi Stagnation may feel they store all the stress in the guts, feeling more burning pain and acid reflux symptoms when their emotions worsen.
Pattern Identification and Treatment:
Let's see 3 common causes of H. Pylori and GERD symptoms in TCM:
Liver and Stomach disharmony:
Acid reflux and heartburn are aggravated by stress.
Reduced appetite, morning nausea, frequent signing.
Irritability, anxiety, and depression.
PMS, menstrual cramps, etc.
Neck and shoulder tension.
Cold fingers and toes
Si Ni San
This formula is a classic one to spread constrained Liver Qi and regulates the Spleen. It is used when the patients have cold fingers and toes while the rest of the body reminds warm. Also, it is a classic to treat disharmony between the Liver and Spleen with signs like reduced appetite, bitter taste in the mouth, GERD, irritability, etc.
Acupuncture points for Liver-Spleen disharmony:
Ren 12, 13, and 17; Tonify stomach and direct qi downward.
Liv 3, Li 4; move qi, breaks stagnation.
St 36, Li 10; tonify Yangming, stomach.
Bl 18, 19, and 21; Back Shu acupuncture point of GB, Liver, and Stomach.
This pattern has a strong emotional component; in addition to acupuncture, it would be very beneficial to add activities like meditation and Qi Gong to help the patient to relax.
The treatment with acupuncture and herbal medications should last around 3 months to heal this medical condition.
Stomach and Liver Yin deficiency:
Chronic acid reflux symptoms.
Worse in the evening and with emotions.
Dry mouth and stools.
Warm hands at night.
Yi Guan Jian treats acid reflux in Yin deficiency patterns in combination with a lack of Qi flow; these together generate pain and distention in the epigastric area with acid reflux.
Acupuncture Points for Liver and Stomach Yin deficiency:
Ren 12; Front Mu acupuncture point of the Stomach nourishes stomach yin and directs it downward.
Liver13: Front Mu point acupuncture of Spleen harmonizes the Liver and Stomach.
Bl 20 & 21: Back Shu acupuncture points, tonify stomach.
Pc 6; Luo acupuncture point of the Pericardium regulates the stomach and directs Qi downwards.
Acid reflux with the underlying cause of excess food intake and is hard to digest.
Fullness and epigastric pain that reduces after vomiting.
Diarrhea that relieves the pain
Bao He Wan reduces food stagnation and harmonizes the Stomach.
An ideal formula for acute situations of overeating.
Acupuncture for Food stagnation:
Ren 12: Alleviates food stagnation.
Li 10: Treat digestive issues.
St 40: Transforms phlegm, clears heat, and reduces stagnation from the Stomach.
St 44: Clears heat from the Stomach and alleviates food stagnation.
This is a very common cause of acid reflux and heartburn.
Most chronic problems aren’t resolved through a quick solution.
There are no quick miracles in medicine. Normally, fast solutions lead to bigger problems.
Our bodies are complex living systems that require balancing based on an accurate systemic diagnosis: we are all different and require different types of balancing.
If you want to know more about how to solve chronic GERD or H. Pilory conditions contact us at Soul Acupuncture & Herbal; we can help you find the best herbal formulations, acupuncture points, and nutritional advice to achieve the fastest recovery.