Acupuncture Continuing Education

Acupuncture & Herbs Reduce Acid Reflux Research

New research concludes that acupuncture combined with herbal medicine is effective for the treatment of gastroesophageal reflux disease. A group of 100 patients was randomly split evenly into two groups. One group received standard western biomedicine medical care and the other group received Chinese medicine acupuncture and herbal medicine. The acupuncture and herbal medicine group had a 92% efficacy rate and the biomedicine group had a 76% efficacy rate. The acupuncture and herbal medicine group showed a significant improvement in heartburn, chest pain and acid reflux symptoms over the biomedicine group. The researchers concluded that local abdominal acupuncture points combined with the herbal formula Ban Xia Xie Xin Tang is effective for the treatment of gastroesophageal reflux disease.

There is a great deal of research demonstrating the beneficial effects of both acupuncture and herbal medicine on the digestive system. Most research isolates a narrow set of acupuncture points, a single herb or a single herbal formula. This research takes a more realistic clinical tack by combining both herbs and acupuncture in the observation group. Licensed acupuncturists commonly use a combination of therapeutic modalities when assisting patients in the resolution of ailments. Acupuncture, herbal medicine, moxibustion and therapeutic massage are but a few of the therapeutic applications within the scope of Chinese, Japanese, Vietnamese and Korean traditional medicine. Dietetics, Qi Gong, Tai Chi Quan and meditation are also part of traditional oriental medical training and may be relevant to the resolution of a patient’s condition.

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM)

Chinese herbs. Chinese HerbsThe herbal formula used in this study is traditionally used for resolving digestive disturbances. The traditional functions of this formula are to harmonize the stomach and intestines, descend the rebellious stomach Qi and to unblock gastrointestinal accumulations. Indications for the use of Ban Xia Xie Xin Tang include fullness and distention of the abdomen, especially when there is pressure and fluid accumulating in the epigastrium. This applies to instances when there is dirty water stagnation in the upper GI tract. The formula removes the toxic fluid accumulation from this region. Consequently, a feeling of pressure against the upper GI and what is perceived as the heart region is relieved. This formula is also very useful for the treatment of general indigestion, vomiting, nausea, belching, diarrhea and flatulence. This formula is often appropriate for the treatment of peptic ulcers, stomach pain, chronic gastritis and acid regurgitation. The anti-toxin properties of this formula make it applicable for the treatment of the stomach flu.

This formula contains the following herbs: Ban Xia, Gan Jiang, Huang Qin, Huang Lian, Ren Shen, Da Zao and Zhi Gan Cao. Ban Xia dries the dampness and transforms cold phlegm. It is useful to descend rebellious Qi and is therefore used to treat vomiting and nausea. Its drying properties have powerful antihistamine effects and Ban Xia is therefore useful in drying phlegm, mucus and dirty water stagnation in the lung and digestive systems.

Gan Jiang, dried ginger, is pungent and warming. It stops pain of the stomach with its warming properties. Gan Jiang disperses middle Jiao cold and transforms lung dampness and phlegm. Gan Jiang is useful to warm the channels and enters the stomach, spleen, lung and heart channels. Huang Qin enters the liver, lung, gallbladder and stomach channels. It clears middle and upper Jiao dampness and heat. Huang Qin cools the blood and thereby is able to stop bleeding and Huang Qin is useful to pacify a restless fetus. As a result, Huang Qin is useful to prevent a threatened miscarriage. Generally, Huang Qin treats disorders such as diarrhea, dysentery, nausea, vomiting and high fever. Huang Qin also treats coughing, especially with yellow phlegm and other signs of damp-heat.

Ban Xia Xie Xin Tang also contains Huang Lian. This is a very bitter and very potent herb to clear the fire and toxicity from the heart and to clear damp-heat from the middle Jiao. Ren Shen, ginseng root, is included in this formula and helps to benefit the Qi. Da Zao, smoked Chinese date, benefits digestion and helps to harmonize the ingredients within the formula. Zhi Gan Cao, honey prepared licorice, is also helpful in harmonizing the ingredients and benefits the Qi.

Li Hanhua, and Lau May Wah. "Ban Xia Xie Xin Tang combined with abdominal acupuncture for the treatment of gastroesophageal reflux disease clinical efficacy observed.” Contemporary Medicine 3 (2013).