Acupuncture Treatment for GERD

What you need to know

At Starting Point, we specialize in difficult to treat cases. Give our office a call at (425) 686-4498 to learn more about how we can help.

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Acupuncture Treatment for GERD

Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) occurs when stomach acid frequently flows back into your esophagus – the tube connecting your mouth and stomach. The prevalence of those suffering from GERD is increasing and it often becomes a chronic condition. The standard treatment involves long-term care using proton-pump inhibitors. However, 20-30% of patients report they continue to have symptoms even with medication.

Why is this a concern?

PPIs are meant to be a short-term treatment but often patients are taking them for years, yet continue to experience symptoms. PPIs are of prescribed “off-label” for other conditions as well. One study mentions that evidence supports “PPIs are overused in 25-70% of prescriptions having no appropriate indication.” Patients report their GERD affects their sleep quality, energy, and digestion, among other things.

Did you know that there is more evidence coming out on the long-term sequela of taking PPIs? Long-term use of PPIs can lead to nutrient deficiency’s, absorption issues, associated with c.diff and pneumonia, can contribute to SIBO and IBS, and even increase the risk of dementia.

Is there hope for treating GERD?

If you suffer with this, or you’ve ever suffered with it, you might have felt hopeless and frustrated at times that there are no known causes and the only known treatments are either medications or dietary adjustments.

Wouldn’t it be nice to know what causes it in the first place, so that you can start treating and healing the root cause?

Did you know that acupuncture can help with a number of digestive issues? Yes, it’s true!

How acupuncture and naturopathic medicine can help:

Acupuncture, rooted in Chinese Medicine views digestive issues holistically. Chinese Medicine (CM) has known for thousands of years that the blueprint of many physical manifestations is an imbalance of our Qi (energy). Reflux esophagitis in CM focuses on transforming, harmonizing, and restoring the normal movement of the stomach Qi to prevent it “rebelling” upwards. The treatment with acupuncture and/or herbs focuses on restoring normal functioning of the lower esophageal sphincter (LES), enhancing gastric motility, and improving gastric emptying.

Acupuncture for GERD

Stomach Qi usually rebels because of:

1. Eating in a hurry

2. Eating when stressed or angry

3. Burning the midnight oil

4. Eating while walking or standing, repeatedly and over time

5. Anxiety

6. Drinking too much water with a meal or shortly after which diluted digestive enzymes makes digestion very difficult.

If we take a little look at the most common lifestyle factors which cause or exacerbate GERD, or the upward rebelling of Stomach Qi, we can see that simply doing the opposite of what causes it will be helpful. Also introducing calming practices like meditation, walking in nature, and of course coming for acupuncture treatment. Because whilst changing our habits will help to prevent GERD from returning, healing the problem and lessening the damage done by the issue is the forte of CM.

Read one of Dr. Ellie’s previous posts on how we can help digestion, here.

What does the research say?

Interestingly, there are quite a few studies looking at acupuncture and how it can help those with digestive concerns and GERD.

One recent study looked at if acupuncture can help patients with symptoms of GERD and if acupuncture plus PPIs had any affect on symptoms. This study showed that acupuncture in combination with single-dose PPI was more effective than those taking higher doses of PPIs.

In another study, acupuncture compared to standard western medicine treatment was examined on how it could help over a 6 week trial. Results showed that those receiving acupuncture fared significantly better than the Western medicine control group. There were also far fewer side effects (virtually none) in comparison to the control group who were taking Proton Pump Inhibitors and other medications for GERD.

The conclusion of the study – compared with PPIs, acupuncture therapy can better improve the clinical total effective rate and symptom relief and decrease the recurrence rate and adverse events in the treatment of GERD.

At Starting Point, we specialize in difficult to treat cases. Give our office a call at (425) 686-4498 to learn more about how we can help.


Xiao J, Yang Y, Zhu Y, et al. Efficacy and Safety of Traditional Chinese Medicine on Nonerosive Reflux Disease: A Meta-Analysis of Randomized Controlled Trials. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2018;2018:1505394. Published 2018 May 24. doi:10.1155/2018/1505394

Call or Schedule Now! (425) 686-4498

Call or Schedule Now!

(425) 686-4498

Dr. Ellie Heintze, ND, LAc

  • Master’s Degree in Acupuncture
    Bastyr University
  • Doctorate in Naturopathic Medicine
    Bastyr University
  • Master’s Degree in Chemistry
    Northern Arizona University
Dr. Heintze Acupuncturist and Naturopathic Doctor

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