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Acupuncture Shows Promise in Treating Acid Reflux Disease

By: Sam Gaines, Staff Writer

Although the cause of gastroesophageal reflux disease, or GERD, is still unknown, there are treatments available on the market to help with the symptoms and perhaps even repair some of the tissue damage. The problem is one of side effects and limited effectiveness for all the current treatments.

A 2005 Taiwanese study reported in the American Journal of Physiology—Gastrointestinal and Liver Physiology opened eyes by pointing to the effectiveness of electrical acupoint stimulation in reducing the key mechanism of GERD, transient lower esophageal sphincter relaxations (TLESRs). This important muscle allows food to pass into the stomach when working normally. In people who have GERD, the muscle relaxes at the wrong times, allowing stomach acid to churn up into the esophagus and resulting in heartburn symptoms.

By applying only mild stimulation to an acupoint on the wrist known as Neiguan, researchers were able to reduce the frequency of TLESRs from six to 3.5 an hour in research subjects. Sham stimulation of a hip point produced no comparable change.

Researchers cautioned that it’s still a big leap from these promising results to a reliable cure for GERD.

Source: American Journal of Physiology—Gastrointestinal and Liver Physiology, 2005

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