Heartburn, which has nothing to do with the heart but can often feel like the onset of a heart attack, takes a lot of managing. Some people suffer for years dismissing the root cause GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease) as indigestion or just “something they ate.” GERD or chronic acid reflux occurs when the valve keeping the stomach acid in the stomach is malfunctioning. The reverse flow of this acid into the esophagus can damage its lining and cause heartburn – a severe burning sensation across the lower chest.
What Would The Doc Say?
Doctors offering a solution under allopathic medicine would suggest diet restrictions and medication like antacids to neutralize the acid and stronger stuff such as proton pump inhibitors to suppress the production of the acid itself. They would also ask the patient to work on eliminating the catalysts – stress, overeating, especially spicy food, and excessive consumption of caffeine or acidic juices. Allopathy is designed to focus on GERD in isolation. This is where alternative forms of medicine may have better results in treating heartburn. Studies indicate that heartburn tends to be a chronic ailment, a good enough reason to give other options – without many of the side effects – a shot.1
Turning to Ancient Sciences
Heartburn does not allow for a quick fix remedy. Patients looking for a holistic, long-term solution can try out one of many alternative medicine treatments. One American study found that alternative medicine has benefited many adults with gastric ailments. Treatment options are across a wide range, from herbs to manipulative therapies like massages to mind–body therapies like meditation to mind–body activities like yoga and qigong and well-known complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) modalities like acupuncture, Ayurveda, and naturopathy.2
Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) offers multiple treatment options, acupuncture being one of them. One study even showed that acupuncture worked better on patients who failed to respond to double the doses of proton pump inhibitors for treating heartburn.3 A qualified acupuncture physician will determine a therapy plan to address your specific symptoms and root cause.
TCM therapies also include qigong (a holistic system of coordinated body posture, movements, and breathing used for health and fitness) and Chinese herbal medicines. A TCM-related study showed that heartburn and reflux symptoms are caused by Qi (energy) stagnation in the liver and stomach.4 Stress relief, to revive the energy flow, through the practice of qigong and specially prepared herbal drinks to clean the digestive track are widely recommended in TCM.
The ancient Indian science of Ayurveda also offers a series of treatments for chronic heartburn. Certain body types, especially those with pitta imbalance, are more prone to GERD or reflux. Ayurveda practitioners suggest better eating habits like avoiding spicy, oily food and de-stressing through yoga.5 Chronic sufferers can also try treatments involving enema and intake of ghee (clarified butter) and certain herbal medicines.6
Try out these alternatives if you have a chronic battle with heartburn and there will surely be relief at the end of the tunnel!
|↑1||Schindlbeck, N. E., A. G. Klauser, G. Berghammer, W. Londong, and S. A. Müller-Lissner. “Three year follow up of patients with gastro esophageal reflux disease.” Gut 33, no. 8 (1992): 1016-1019.|
|↑2||Dossett, Michelle L., Roger B. Davis, Anthony J. Lembo, and Gloria Y. Yeh. “Complementary and alternative medicine use by US adults with gastrointestinal conditions: Results from the 2012 National Health Interview Survey.” The American journal of gastroenterology 109, no. 11 (2014): 1705-1711.|
|↑3||Dickman, R., E. Schiff, A. Holland, C. Wright, S. R. Sarela, B. Han, and R. Fass. “Clinical trial: acupuncture vs. doubling the proton pump inhibitor dose in refractory heartburn.” Alimentary pharmacology & therapeutics 26, no. 10 (2007): 1333-1344.|
|↑4||YE, Wei, Xiaoqi WANG, Binbin LIU, and Jiaming YAO. “Study on Characteristics of TCM Syndrome of Reflux Esophagitis [J].” Chinese Archives of Traditional Chinese Medicine 7 (2013): 033.|
|↑5||Kaswala, Dharmesh, Shamik Shah, Avantika Mishra, Hardik Patel, Nishith Patel, Pravesh Sangwan, Ari Chodos, and Zamir Brelvi. “Can yoga be used to treat gastroesophageal reflux disease?.” International journal of yoga 6, no. 2 (2013): 131.|
|↑6||Abhijit, Ahire. “MANAGEMENT OF GERD WITH REFLUX ESOPHAGITIS (VATA-PITTAJ CHARDI) BY BASTI KARMA AND GHRITPANA.” Int. Jour. of Ayurveda & Alternative Med. 1, no. 1 (2013): 50-52.|