What is GERD?
Gerd is a condition that many people recognize by the more common name — Acid Reflux or heartburn. It stands for Gastro-esophageal Reflux Disorder. People suffering from this condition exhibit symptoms ranging from heartburn to ulceration and bleeding.
The primary symptoms are:
Barret’s esophagus (a pre-cancerous condition), and
Associated symptoms include:
bitter or sour taste in the mouth
GERD Treatment Regimens
The primary treatment regimen involves lifestyle and dietary changes. Patients are advised to eliminate dairy, spicy, acidic and hot foods from their diets; eat more frequent smaller meals each day (5-6 per day), and avoid eating less than 3 hours before sleep.
In addition to dietary changes, patients are advised to sleep on their left sides, elevate their heads when lying down (use a wedge), reduce stress levels, engage in regular exercise, and eliminate cigarettes and alcohol intake.
Some patients also take medications such as antacids or Proton Pump inhibitors such as Prevacid or Prilosec. While these may help to reduce symptoms often the side effects are as unpleasant as the GERD symptoms. Common side effects include diarrhea, abdominal pain and nausea. In addition, many patients experience rebound symptoms after using these medications for extended time periods.
And of course, none of these treatment approaches addresses the underlying cause of the condition. Acupuncture does.
Acupuncture in the Treatment of GERD
Acupuncture and other Oriental Medicine treatments are designed to address the root of the disorder, so that the patient will not require a long term medication regimen.
An initial diagnosis will determine the appropriate protocol for each patient. In the Oriental Medical system, GERD is not viewed as a single disorder, rather it is the result of a number of possible patterns of disease, which manifest with similar symptoms.
Patterns that may give rise to GERD symptoms include:
Stomach/Spleen Damp Heat
Liver Stomach Disharmony
Cold Damp and
Depending on the particular pattern (some patients may present with combined patterns) the practitioner will design an individual treatment protocol for the patients unique presentation. Often, in addition to acupuncture the practitioner with prescribe an herbal formula.