Natural Approaches for Heartburn
Traditional Chinese Medicine has been resolving
heartburn effectively for thousands of years. Acupressure and Chinese herbs can help not only reduce the symptoms of heartburn, but more important to help recover from the cause of GERD by adjusting the esophageal pressure, lowering gastric acid, and balancing the functions of the digestive organs. Because the Liver energetic organ system controls the direction of Qi (Chi) in the body, acid reflux is often associated with a Liver (TCM) imbalances and “Rebellious Qi” (which simply
means that the energy is flowing in the wrong direction).
The Liver is responsible for the smooth flow of Qi (vital energy)
in the body; when the Liver is not functioning at its optimal
capacity, Digestive issues may ensue. Additionally, when the
energy of the Liver becomes constricted, Liver Qi Stagnation
develops. Thus stagnant energy tends to create heat and
inflammation in the body.
Poor eating habits with the consumption of cold foods, fried foods, simple sugars and carbohydrates, juices, and too many raw foods or uncooked foods can damage the Spleen function in Chinese medicine and causeDampness and Phlegm creating further obstructions for the digestive process and a propensity for the Stomach to develop digestive disorders.
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Acupuncture, there are also specific acupuncture points that are very effective in the treatment of Acid Reflux.
Lifestyle choices to reduce the occurrence of acid reflux:
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. Do not 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.
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.
Acid Reflux from the Western View
Acid Reflux and Heartburn are major symptoms of a medical condition called Gastroesophygeal Reflex disorder (GERD). More than 54 million adults in America are suffering from this frequent condition. Acid Reflux and Heartburn can have a burning sensation which radiates from the mid to upper chest, caused by acidic stomach contents which irritate the unprotected lining of the esophagus and throat. 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 acid reflux or heartburn.
What conditions can contribute to acid reflux and heartburn?
Anything that decreases the lower esophageal pressure or irritates the esophagus might contribute:
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
Related symptoms and complications:
Other symptoms may include sore throat, voice change, nausea, anxiety, burning pain when swallowing, and a bitter or sour taste in your mouth, coughing and respiratory conditions such as, asthma, pneumonia and chronic bronchitis. If heartburn or acid reflux occurs 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.
It is worth noting that pharmaceutical antacids suppress the natural digestive process and cause digestive disorders (Food Qi Stagnation) with habitual use according to Chinese medical theory. If food is not being properly digested in the stomach, many health disorders can develop over time; they can range from slow digestion to serious health concerns. This is why many prefer to utilize natural Chinese herbal therapy which can address acid reflux by addressing the root organ imbalances which cause acid reflux rather than suppressing stomach acid which is necessary for proper digestion.
Difficulty conceiving ???
Current statistics state that one in five couples over the age of 30 have difficulty conceiving after one year of trying. Many of these couples are turning to acupuncture and Oriental medicine for a safe, effective and natural solution to have a healthy baby. Oriental medicine has a long history when it comes to enhancing fertility for both men and women. In fact, evidence that acupuncture and herbal medicine have been used to aid fertility can be found in early medical literature dating back to 3AD.
Fertility treatments were first recorded by Zhang Zhong Jing, a famous physician from the Han Dynasty, in his discussion of diseases in women in theJin Gui Yao Lue or Essentials of the Golden Cabinet.
How Acupuncture Can Enhance Fertility
According to the principles of Oriental medicine, a person’s health is determined by the quality of Qi, the vital life energy, and blood circulating through the body. When Qi and blood are circulating properly, the body is properly nourished and functioning optimally which, in turn, enhances fertility.
Researchers have confirmed its benefit in the following areas:
- Regulate menstrual cycle.
- Improve sperm count and motility.
- Reduce stress and anxiety associated with infertility.
- Normalize hormone and endocrine systems.
- Improve blood flow in the uterus.
- Decrease chance of miscarriage.
- Increase the chance of pregnancy for women undergoing in vitro fertilization (IVF).
Fertility treatments vary from person to person, but are usually scheduled for at least three consecutive cycles (twelve weeks). Treatments can include acupuncture, customized herbal therapy, stress reduction and dietary counseling. Treatments work alone but are an excellent addition to any Western intervention.
Please call an acupuncturist near you for more information of to schedule a consultation. The best place to find a qualified and licensed acupuncture practitioner is on Acufinder.com.
Acupuncture Increases IVF Success by 65%
Women undergoing IVF were 65 percent more likely to become pregnant when they combined the procedure with acupuncture, a recent study has shown.
The remarkable success rate occurred across seven acupuncture trials involving 1,366 women in a systematic review and meta-analysis published in a February, 2008 issue of the British Medical Journal.
Acupuncture was delivered either just before or just after embryo transfer – a step in the process of in vitro fertilization (IVF) whereby one or several embryos are placed into the uterus.
The research was carried out by scientists from the University of Maryland in the United States and the VU University of Amsterdam in Holland.
It is thought that acupuncture stimulates the neurotransmitters that trigger the production of gonadotrophin-releasing hormone, which controls the menstrual cycle and a woman’s ovulation.
Acupuncture is also thought to stimulate blood flow to the uterus and boost the production of endogenous opioids, inducing the body to relax.
Acupuncture Improves Sperm Quality
A study published in the July 2005 issue of the journal Fertility and Sterility found that acupuncture helped infertile men by apparently helping improve sperm quality in their semen.
In the research project, 28 men received acupuncture in addition to traditional infertility treatments, while another 12 men received only the traditional treatments. All of the men were diagnosed with infertility of unknown origin.
Acupuncture was associated with fewer structural defects in the sperm of men who received it, although it had no effect on other abnormalities, such as sperm immaturity or premature death.
Previous studies have shown a link between acupuncture and improved sperm production and motility.
Foods for Fertility
“Your body is like a garden… As in all gardens, the seed we hope to plant in our bodies grows best when we cultivate the ground and plant and nurture the seed in harmony with the laws of nature. You wouldn’t put a tender plant in clay soil without first tilling and amending the earth – at least not if you wanted to give that plant its best start. You wouldn’t plant in the dead of winter, or in the dry season without water, or in a sunless place. Likewise, if we tend our bodies, minds, and spirits with an awareness of the laws of nature, we improve our chances of welcoming the gifts of Quan Yin, the fertility goddess.” Angela Wu, L.Ac., author ofFertility Wisdom.
According to Oriental medicine, the energy of the Kidney system is important for reproduction and fertility enhancement often starts with the Kidneys. A good example of a food that nourishes the Kidneys and promotes fertility is black beans.
Health Benefits of Black Beans
From an Eastern perspective, black beans are warming in nature. They are thought to tonify the Kidney Qi and nourish Yin and Blood.
From a Western perspective, black beans are an excellent source of protein, folate, iron and fiber and are rich in antioxidants.
Loaded with Antioxidants
Worlds Healthiest Foods reported on research published in the Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry indicating that black beans are as rich in antioxidant compounds called anthocyanins as grapes and cranberries, fruits long considered antioxidant superstars.
When researchers analyzed different types of beans, they found that, the darker the bean’s seed coat, the higher its level of antioxidant activity. Gram for gram, black beans were found to have the most antioxidant activity, followed in descending order by red, brown, yellow, and white beans.
Overall, the level of antioxidants found in black beans in this study is approximately 10 times that found in an equivalent amount of oranges, and comparable to that found in an equivalent amount of grapes or cranberries.
Approximately 42% of Americans will be considered obese by 2030. This is a staggering prediction! It seems that we are on a never-ending quest for that magic bullet. But is there really a magic fix for obesity? I fear not, as obesity is a complex issue that oftentimes requires a multidisciplinary approach. However, Traditional Chinese Medicine may be another option for weight management.
In the recent May 2012 publication of Obesity Reviews, a team of researchers performed a detailed systematic review of clinical studies looking at acupuncture and obesity. When compared to no treatment and pharmaceutical medications, the acupuncture studies showed:
- Greater weight loss
- Decreased BMI
- Decreased weight circumference
As impressed as I was with this recent systematic review, I can remember a time when I was not so convinced of acupuncture’s effect on weight management. Confession: Once upon a time, I would cringe as patients asked if acupuncture could help with weight loss. I, too, have battled weight my entire life as I have a very strong family history of obesity and other co-morbidities. Just looking at a cupcake would cause a 15 lb. weight gain, let alone eating one. I clearly recall a childhood memory of exercising with Richard Simmons on TV with the hopes of getting out of my “husky” jeans. I established a strong opinion that there was absolutely no easy fix in the battle of the bulge; a proper regimen of diet and exercise was the only viable option for weight management, end of story. I was, admittedly, myopic.
In Beijing, my perspective began to change slightly after treating countless patients for weight-related complaints. We encouraged patients to be diligent with healthful diet and exercise habits prior to initiating acupuncture treatments. Week after week, patients began reporting success in weight loss, but, in my mind, I always questioned whether it was the acupuncture that helped, or simply because they were dieting and working out regularly.
At some point in my career, I began to finally open myself to the idea that, yes, there is validity to Eastern Medicine’s approach to weight management. I began paying attention to my peers and my mentors. I began listening to my patients as they reported decreased cravings for salt and sugar, suppressed appetite, and weight loss. I went back to square one and opened my Eastern Medicine textbooks to relearn all that I had subconsciously closed myself off from learning.
These days, I make a concerted effort to stay current on what the scientific community has to say regarding this topic.
In addition to acupuncture’s efficacy on weight loss, scientists have provided explanations on howacupuncture promotes weight loss:
- Increases metabolism: Auricular (ear) acupuncture has been shown to temporarily increase basal metabolic rate and suppresses appetite via effects on the autonomic nervous system.
- Improves insulin resistance: There is some data supporting acupuncture’s effectiveness on addressing a condition called insulin resistance, which is associated with metabolic syndrome. This is done by altering activity of the sympathetic nervous system and possibly correcting the insulin signal defect.
- Decreases abdominal fat: An MRI study demonstrated a decrease in abdominal fat storage after acupuncture treatments.
- Appetite suppression: In the rat model, electro-acupuncture influenced the hypothalamus and obesity-related hormones to promote appetite suppression.
Clearly, obesity is not a simple issue, nor is it easy to fix. Focus on optimal health by way of proper nutrition, maintaining an active lifestyle, and applying stress management techniques. Using integrative approaches like acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine may just be the additional resource needed to enhance your weight-management regime.
New research concludes that acupuncture “significantly reduced type I hypersensitivity itch in patients with AD (atopic dermatitis).” In this double-blinded, randomized, placebo-controlled study; researchers compared acupuncture and drug therapy with placebo and non-intervention control groups. Both acupuncture and drug therapy significantly reduced itching with acupuncture being the most effective of the two.
Researchers measured outcomes for two types of acupuncture protocols. Protocol I measured the effects of acupuncture using preventative (preceding) acupuncture treatment. Protocol II measured acupuncture’s effects when applied to active itching. Protocol II was the most effective of the two. Drug therapy testing employed citirzine, an antihistamine, as the pharmacological agent to control itching. Citirizine (Zyrtec, Reactine) was as effective as preventative acupuncture care but not as effective as active acupuncture.
Joanne Mc Govern – Dip Ac., Lic Ac., Dip. Chinese Herbs, Dip. Nutritional Adviser, ITEC, Dip Stress Management.
concludes that acupuncture treats hearing loss. Researchers measured the effects of acupuncture on patients with sudden sensorineural hearing loss. This type of hearing loss is defined as a loss of 30 dB or more in 3 contiguous frequencies within three days or less. Thirty-six patients of a total of seventy-two “showed improvement” with an average gain of 24.47 dB of hearing restoration. The researchers “demonstrated that favorable prognosis was directly related to the time interval from the onset of hearing loss to the start of AT (acupuncture therapy).” For the patients that showed significant improvement, start of acupuncture treatment was within an average of 51 days from the onset of hearing loss. For the group that did not respond, the average was 167 days between onset of the illness and the beginning of acupuncture care. Variables that did not affect the outcome: vertigo, presence of hypertension, gender.
Acupuncture Treatment Acupuncture was administered on average of two times per week. The needles were 40mm in length with a 0.25mmdiameter. The needles were inserted to a depth of 10 – 30mm until a needling sensation of soreness, numbness or distention was perceived at the acupuncture point. The acupuncture point selections were made from the following primary points: GV14, GV15, GV16, GB20, GB21, BL10, SI4, SI15. Supplementary points were: TB21, TB22, SI19, GB2, ST7, UB2, LI20, GV20, EX-HN3, KI10, LR8, LU8, LR4, LI4, LR3, and ST36. The needles were retained for 10 minutes. The researchers note “our findings indicate that AT (acupuncture therapies) have some effects on ISSHL (idiopathic sudden sensorineural hearing loss) even for the patients who failed to respond to conventional therapies.”
One of my clients avoided bananas, while another shunned tuna salad. Still others wouldn’t go near tossed salads, sausage biscuits, fried foods or orange juice. These foods seem to have nothing in common, but were eliminated from the diet because they triggered symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome.
At least one out of 10 Americans suffers from IBS, and it might be as high as one in five. Women are more likely than men to have it, but IBS occurs in men, too. It can surface anytime between the ages of the early 20s to the late 40s.
IBS is a disorder that changes how the large intestine functions, but it doesn’t damage the intestine or lead to other diseases.
It’s not celiac disease (gluten intolerance), Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis or colon cancer; these diseases damage the intestines. Because some IBS symptoms may be similar, those diseases should be ruled out by your doctor.
Symptoms include bloating, abdominal pain, cramping, gas, constipation and/or diarrhea, and mucus in the stool. They can be mild to severe, and often come and go. Some people experience discomfort all the time.
IBS affects quality of life because it can interrupt daily routines and limit activities. Sometimes the pain is temporarily disabling.
It’s unclear why people develop IBS. It could be because of a family history of IBS, or it could result from a bacterial infection.
Problems in the intestine may be the culprit. The nerves may be more sensitive, causing gas and stools to be painful. If the intestine contracts too fast or too slowly, diarrhea and constipation worsen. It could be a miscommunication between the nerves in the intestine and the brain, causing irritability.
Stress and anxiety don’t cause IBS, but they can worsen symptoms.
The treatment of IBS is highly individual and might include changes in eating habits, use of probiotics, counseling to decrease stress, and medications, if prescribed by your doctor.
Keeping a food diary is the first step to controlling the symptoms. Record what you eat, any symptoms and when they occur. Note what foods make you feel better, or worse, and eat accordingly.
Sometimes large portions aren’t well-tolerated, so aim for five to six smaller meals each day.
Gradually increasing fiber daily might help control constipation. Select whole grains and high-fiber foods, including fresh fruits and vegetables.
Increasing soluble fiber found in applesauce and oatmeal, along with bulking agents, such as psyllium (Metamucil), might help diarrhea.
Include six to eight daily cups of water along with other beverages to help digestion.
Different foods can be specific triggers for people with IBS. See the accompanying list for foods to avoid and those better tolerated.
Nutrition help for IBS
There seems to be no rhyme or reason as to why one person with IBS tolerates a certain food, but another suffers when eating the same food.
Keep track of the foods you tolerate and problematic ones; it can help your doctor plan your treatment. Also, working with a registered dietitian can help you determine the best foods to eat. These foods are potential triggers for IBS.
Dairy might not be tolerated because of fat or lactose content. If you’re lactose-intolerant, use lactose-free milk, cheese and dairy products. If you tolerate lactose, use skim, 1 percent or 2 percent milk and low-fat dairy products. Avoid heavy cream and rich cheeses.
Avoid rich, heavy meals. Use lean cuts of meat and poultry, avoiding highly marbled meats and chicken skin. Choose lean deli meats and avoid luncheon meats, bologna, hot dogs, bacon and sausage. Bake, broil, roast and grill your foods instead of frying them.
Eat any vegetables you tolerate for their fiber. However, these vegetables can cause gas and might need to be limited or avoided: broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, corn, dried beans and peas, leeks and onions.
Sorbitol is a sweetener used in many products because it doesn’t promote tooth decay, or raise blood sugars of people with diabetes. However, large amounts of sorbitol can cause gas, diarrhea and bloating. Avoid it! You’ll find it in sugarless gum and candies, toothpaste, lower-sugar granola and meal-replacement bars, and some low-calorie desserts and candies.
Alcohol might stimulate or irritate your intestines, so avoid it as much as possible.
Sodas and carbonated beverages might produce gas and cause bloating.
Coffee, tea, hot chocolate and chocolate in general contain caffeine, which stimulates the intestines and can worsen diarrhea. Caffeine-free versions are usually tolera
The lactose in dairy products such as milk might trigger irritable bowel syndrome
Spring season is here, and although that means flowering gardens and cool, sunny days, for many people it also means the agony of allergy season!
According to Chinese medical theory, allergies relate to imbalances in the meridian and organ systems of the body. These imbalances could stem from many different causes such as: stress, poor diet, consitutional weakness, pollutants and environmental toxins such as dust, mold, animal dander, bacteria, viruses and pollen.
Acupuncture and Chinese medicine counterattack allergy symptoms by working to support and strengthen Wei Qi (pronounced “way chee”). You can think of Wei Qi like the body’s immune system. If Wei Qi is strong and abundant, one remains healthy. But if Wei Qi is compromised, one becomes more suceptible to toxins, pollutants and stresses on the body. If the supply of Wei Qi is abundant and flowing freely through the body, allergy symptoms can be greatly reduced or eliminated. Traditional Chinese Medicine also considers the spleen, kidneys, and lungs when treating allergies. Deficiencies or weaknesses in any of these organs can make one more prone to allergy symptoms. Acupuncture treatments can build, balance and support these organs to increase health and wellbeing.
Many allergy sufferers prefer acupuncture to other methods of allergy treatment because it is a drug-free, safe, and natural method for eliminating symptoms and providing relief. Here are some other tips that can help you minimize the adverse effects of allergy season:
- Keep your windows closed during allergy season to prevent dust and pollen from entering your home.
- Do not hang your clothes to dry in the sun as they will gather dust, mold and pollen.
- Add spicy foods and omega-3 foods such as flax seeds, walnuts, salmon, sardines, soybean, halibut, callops, shrimp, tuna and tofu to your diet.
- Flush your nose with a Neti pot.
- Wear a dust mask when working in the yard or housecleaning.
- Schedule regular acupuncture appointments to keep your organs strong and your Wei QI flowing.
Protein is a macro nutrient composed of amino acids that is necessary for the proper growth and function of the human body. While the body can manufacture several amino acids required for protein production, a set of essential amino acids needs to be obtained from animal and/or vegetable protein sources.
An Alternative to Red Bull: An introduction to Adaptogenic Herbs
“Adaptogens” are a group of herbs that seem custom-made for our stressed out times. By definition, adaptogens are “non-specific,” so rather than targeting one particular symptom or part of the body, like much of Western medication, they increase your resistance overall against physical, chemical and biological stressors. They’re non-habit forming, even when taken over long periods of time and, most importantly, they are normalizing — they create balance in the body without negatively influencing any particular body system at the expense of another.
Basically, adaptogenic herbs are to stress what a hot bowl of homemade soup is to a cold, rainy day — relaxing and yet restorative and, in short, just what the doctor ordered.
Herbs used to restore a healthy stress response are traditionally prepared as formulas, not taken as individual herbs. As an introduction to this fascinating subject, here are seven of my favorite adaptogenic herbs often used in such formulas and some basic info on how they can help you relax and recharge:
In the Emergency University Hospital Commander Faustino Pérez Hernández de Matanzas developed a clinical trial showed the effectiveness of using acupuncture in patients diagnosed with hypertensive emergency. This treatment was more effective than the indication of Captopril orally.
The sample consisted of 61 patients, predominantly female and aged between 48 and 67, divided into two groups: one of 28 who received conventional drug treatment with captopril, and another 33 to that applied procedures of Acupuncture.
Those treated with acupuncture showed a better therapeutic response to reevaluate patients an hour after established treatment, when compared with the group that was given Captopril.