Indigestion and Heartburn:
By Dr. Mao Shing Ni
“OH, I ATE TOO MUCH!” Most of us have regretfully uttered these words more often than we’d like. The resulting indigestion or heartburn is often experienced as pain, a burning sensation in the stomach or chest, abdominal bloating, gurgling, distention, and belching. Indigestion is caused and made worse by overeating, especially fatty, rich, or spicy foods, alcohol, coffee, and acidic foods such as tomatoes and citrus fruits. Eating while stressed, on the run, or late at night also can cause indigestion. Heartburn can accompany indigestion, as the excessive food and liquid in the stomach churns up stomach acid, which spills up into the esophagus and irritates the lining. Over time chronic heartburn can develop into gastritis or esophagitis, much more serious conditions in which the lining of the stomach or esophagus erodes and ulcerates. The regurgitation of acids is also called gastroesophageal reflux disease, commonly referred to as GERD. Chronic acid reflux can lead to cancer of the esophagus.
Chinese medicine sees three main causes of indigestion. First, poor diet damages the spleen-pancreas-stomach network. Second, emotional turmoil stresses the liver-gallbladder network, slows down the digestive process, and potentially causes hiatal hernia by pulling the stomach upward into the diaphragm. Third, pathogens in a postnasal mucus drip or food-borne microbes can invade the stomach, causing upheaval. My approach to patients with GERD is diet change- from rich and spicy foods to simple, bland, alkaline, easy-to-digest foods- and stress release with meditation, exercise, and massage. If I suspect pathogens as the cause of the GERD, I’ll address the sinuses and mucus drip, and I’ll work to clear out the pathogens. Acupuncture can provide quick symptom relief and restore the natural flow of the intestinal tract, while Herbal Therapy support a healthy esophageal and stomach lining and normal gastric juice production.
DIET FOR INDIGESTION AND HEARTBURN
HOME REMEDIES FOR INDIGESTION AND HEARTBURN
DAILY SUPPLEMENTS FOR INDIGESTION AND HEARTBURN
HERBAL THERAPY FOR INDIGESTION AND HEARTBURN
Herbs can be found in health food or vitamin stores, online, and at the offices of Chinese medicine practitioners. Herbs should be used according to individual needs; consult with a licensed practitioner for a customized formulation. To learn more about the herbs listed here, go to www.askdrmao.com.
EXERCISE FOR INDIGESTION AND HEARTBURN
Walking is the best exercise for helping food move along the digestive tract, and for improving digestion and absorption. The energetic meridians of the digestive organs run along the large muscles of the legs, so walking stimulates energy flow within the channels and promotes digestion. Take an easy 10-minute walk after each meal and massage your abdomen with your palms in a circle around your navel as you walk. This helps move food through your digestive tract, avoiding prolonged accumulation.
ACUPRESSURE FOR INDIGESTION AND HEARTBURN
INDIGESTION AND HEARTBURN: WHAT TO AVOID
©2015 Dr. Mao Shing Ni
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