It is estimated that more than 20 percent of the general population is affected by acid reflux. The symptoms of acid reflux include a heavy or tight sensation in the stomach; burning pain in the chest; acidic burps; and/or a sour taste in the mouth (as stomach acid and/or regurgitated food flows upward through the esophagus into the oral cavity). Symptoms may also sometimes include difficult or painful swallowing, sore throat, a dry, rough voice, and/or a feeling of a lump in the throat that cannot be cleared away.
Symptoms can be infrequent, mild or pass quickly, or they can happen quite often and/or be more severe or long-lasting. Sometimes the symptoms of acid reflux can mimic the symptoms of a heart attack. This includes severe chest pain and a crushing sensation in the chest.
In acupuncture and Oriental medicine, acid reflux is typically diagnosed as an imbalance in the Stomach: rebellious or counterflow stomach Qi and food stagnation, along with possible excess Stomach Heat.
The stomach, according to the philosophy of acupuncture and Oriental medicine, ripens (digests) consumed foods, breaking it down to make the nutrients in the food more absorbable. After this process occurs, nutrients can then be extracted. Without strong stomach Qi, this ripening/breaking down process is less effective, and food does not move downward efficiently as it should, but rather, accumulates (stagnates) and counterflows, causing acid reflux. Nutrient deficiencies from compromised digestive function may also arise, affecting overall health.
Acupuncture and Oriental medicine treatments for acid reflux improve digestive function, helping the Stomach and Liver Qi to move strongly and smoothly in the proper direction again, and clearing excess Heat and food accumulation. In addition, nutrient deficiencies are addressed, and the diet adjusted appropriately, as proper food selection is crucial for healing the digestion and helping to remove the underlying imbalances that cause acid reflux.