Naturopathy and Acupuncture for heartburn and reflux?
Michelle Blum - Acupuncturist and Naturopath in Brisbane's south-side suburb of Moorooka discusses effective evidence based Naturopathy and Acupuncture treatments for heart burn and reflux.
When it comes to treating digestive symptoms, natural therapies are becoming increasingly popular.In fact, a US survey conducted on patients with gastrointestinal symptoms found that up to 85% were actively seeking relief from complementary therapies1.
Why turn to Naturopathy and Acupuncture for reflux and heartburn?
Naturopaths and Acupuncturists consider the gut to be the foundation of health and understand the importance of gut health on the rest of the body. Digestive symptoms are how the body communicates that something is not right
and must not be ignored. It has been accepted in the medicine community that an inflamed gut can be the underlying cause for many chronic health conditions. Luckily, Naturopaths & Acupuncturists are equipped with evidence-based natural therapies that are proven to restore balance to the gut.
Melatonin for heartburn and reflux
Heartburn and reflux are some of the most commonly reported digestive symptoms in natural health clinics. One
natural remedy that has been proven to be effective in the treatment of reflux is melatonin2. Melatonin is most commonly known as a brain chemical needed during sleep, but it is also an incredibly potent anti-inflammatory for the gut! So much so, that melatonin is produced in the gut in amounts 400 times that of the pineal gland1. In reflux disease, under frequent exposure to regurgitated stomach acid, the lining of the oesophagus becomes inflamed and is at risk of serious damage. Melatonin can strengthen and protect this lining, which is especially useful for clients who experience reflux in the night whilst they are asleep1.
Peppermint oil relieves symptoms of Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)
Another simple and underrated natural remedy in the treatment of digestive symptoms is peppermint oil. Studies have shown peppermint oil to be effective in relieving the symptoms of IBS, particularly upper-gastrointestinal symptoms such as chest pain and dysphagia (difficulty swallowing)3. Peppermint oil works by helping the smooth muscle tissue in the gut to relax, bringing welcome relief from pain and tension1. When put to the test, peppermint oil was effective in 63% of patients with non-obstructive dysphagia4. The study used peppermint-based Altoid mints – a testament to how simple yet effective peppermint can be!
What about Acupuncture for digestive discomfort?
Acupuncture has also demonstrated benefits in the treatment of heartburn and reflux5. A key factor in reflux disease is the pressure on the sphincter that sits at the lower end of the oesophagus. Acupuncture is able to manage this distension pressure6, bringing relief from the pain of heartburn. As a direct result, clients who receive acupuncture are less likely to require symptomatic relief from proton-pump inhibitors (PPIs), which is a wonderful step in the right direction for systemic health.
Rikkunshito – a Japanese herbal formula used for heartburn and reflux
Rikkunshito combines 8 different herbs to form a synergistic combination:
- Glycyrrhizae radix
- Zingiberis rhizome
- Atractylodis lanceae rhizome
- Zizyphi fruit
- Aurantii nobilis pericarpium
- Ginseng radix
- Pinelliae tuber
Although there are a limited number of scientific trials using Rikkunshito, it is considered effective and is widely
used across Japan, particularly in the treatment of reflux and heartburn1.
Are there more natural remedies? Yes! Naturopathy and Acupuncture can not only treat heart burn and reflux but also a myriad of other digestive symptoms such as bloating, cramping, constipation and diarrhoea. If you feel that any of these symptoms ring true for you it would be most worthwhile to seek out a Naturopath and or an Acupuncturist in your area or to make a booking with Michelle click here.
1. Johnson DA. From Licorice to Slippery Elm: What Works for GI Symptoms? Medscape. https://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/921134#vp_2. Published 2019. Accessed
February 5, 2020.
2. Kandil TS, Mousa AA, El-Gendy AA, Abbas AM. The potential therapeutic effect of melatonin in gastro-esophageal reflux disease. BMC Gastroenterol. 2010.
3. Alammar N, Wang L, Saberi B, et al. The impact of peppermint oil on the irritable bowel syndrome: a meta-analysis of the pooled clinical data. BMC Complement Altern
Med. 2019. doi:10.1186/s12906-018-2409-0
4. Khalaf MHG, Chowdhary S, Elmunzer BJ, Elias PS, Castell D. Impact of Peppermint Therapy on Dysphagia and Non-cardiac Chest Pain: A Pilot Study. Dig Dis Sci.
5. MacPherson H, Dumville JC. Acupuncture as a potential treatment for non-cardiac chest pain - A survey. Acupunct Med. 2007. doi:10.1136/aim.25.1-2.18
6. Börjesson M, Pilhall M, Eliasson T, Norssell H, Mannheimer C, Rolny P. Esophageal visceral pain sensitivity: Effects of TENS and correlation with manometric
findings. Dig Dis Sci. 1998. doi:10.1023/A:1018886309364