Let me give you an idea first what acid reflux is and how is it related to GERD. Then later we’ll talk about acupuncture.
Acid Reflux is getting a burning sensation in your upper chest caused by acid regurgitation of what you called Heartburn. Wherein, stomach contents come back up in your esophagus. While on the other hand, GERD (Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease) is when heartburn happens often or a couple of times in a week and may lead to a serious condition if not taken care of.
Moving forward, I’ve been suffering from GERD for more than 5 years but last December 2018, it got worst. One night, I felt tightness in my chest and assumed that it was an early sign of stroke or any heart-related illness. I was anxious about it the whole night because it’s my first time to encounter that feeling.
I rushed myself the next day to VinMec Hospital Ha Long, Vietnam and met the doctor. He suspected that it’s heartburn after I told him my GERD history. He said I need to undergo different procedures.
Because I might have a more serious condition. So I did MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging), Blood test, X-ray, and abdomen ultrasound. Good thing, everything is normal.
Moreover, the doctor said I need to undergo one more procedure which is an endoscopy (a procedure in which an endoscope is inserted to your body to give a view of its internal parts) since I have it for so long. And for them to have a clear idea to evaluate my condition. I was advised to go back the next morning because Endoscopy is done with an empty stomach and I had my breakfast during that day.
I’m quite worried because again it’s my first time to go through this kind of procedure. They will give me anesthesia to numb my throat to avoid discomfort while doing it and it will last for 20-25 mins. They said they need to do it while I’m sleeping too which I haven’t tried in my entire life. But I have to do it to know the cause of this burden.
The next day, I went back to the hospital to do the endoscopy. After the 30-min. procedure. I woke up as if nothing’s happened and the results came in. They showed me the photos taken during the procedure. And a part of my GEJ (Gastroesophageal Junction) was inflamed. The doctor assured that I have nothing to worry about because there’s no sign of a serious problem and it can be treated with the medicines. They prescribed me tons of medicines good for 2 months. Those actually help to lessen the tightness in my chest, but I still feel uncomfortable as I experience sudden tightness at night.
After I finished all the medicines, which obviously didn’t work. I’m experiencing the same thing again. I tried different remedies too like drinking Baking Soda diluted in water, eating bananas, using Gaviscon, etc. and all of those were not effective. I’m fed up and I just shrugged it off for the past few months.
Until, I went to another hospital, this time in the capital city of Vietnam, Hanoi. Hoping that there will be something good will happen. Again, they are encouraging me to undergo endoscopy because it has been 6 months since the last endoscopy, but I declined. I said I’m experiencing the same aches and pains. Why not change the medicines that were given to me initially?
They conducted a different procedure instead, for them to issue medicines. And asked me to drink a drug solution then breathe on a “breath bag”. They said I might have bacteria that causes the tightness in my chest. If there’s an infection, the bacteria will break the solution down into gasses that are measured in my exhaled breath. And it’s negative, so they gave me another set of medicines to take it for another month.
30 days had gone fast, but I haven’t felt any changes. I’ve already spent a lot of money for check-ups, different procedures, and medicines but still didn’t feel any relief. On a random day, I googled “Alternative Medicines for acid reflux” as I’m really desperate to get rid of this. And that’s how I discovered ACUPUNCTURE, appeared number 1 on the search list. So I gave it a try.
After reading some articles about acupuncture, I looked around Hanoi and see if there’s a specialist doing the traditional procedure. Then I met Tara of Ostara Traditional Chinese Medicine in Tay Ho, Hanoi. She’s very friendly and accommodating. The next thing I know she’s already assessing my condition and taking notes of my health concerns. I’ll tell you more about her on the latter part, so keep reading.
What is Acupuncture?
Acupuncture is a key component of Traditional Chinese Medicine in which thin-sterile needles are inserted into the body. According to traditional Chinese medical theory, acupuncture concepts revolve around qi or chi (energy flow), meridians (channel network) and acupuncture points.
It stimulates the release of endorphins (natural pain killers) and changes the pattern of blood flow through the body, thereby stimulating healing.
From an eastern point of view, the pathology and physiology of the body are understood very differently. This is not just in China, but in Japan, India and other East Asian cultures where acupuncture is practiced. The energies of all matter, both organic and inorganic, are thought to be manifestations of a single universal energy or force called ‘qi’, the movement and balance of which in the human being is seen as directly linked to the health of the individual. Inserting acupuncture needles in specific points is believed to harmonize and improve the flow of qi, which allows all physiological functions back to normal.
From a western scientific point of view, the mechanisms of acupuncture are largely understood to be neurophysiology but mainly not yet understood. Western Medical acupuncture has an effect on nerves which can free the muscles, countermand brain signals, etc. Animals are used too for an experiment. To see how various neurotransmitters and hormones influenced by inserting needles to different channel networks.
In short, from an eastern perspective, it is simply a way of moving qi, whereas from a western perspective it’s mechanism is not fully understood but thought to be neurophysiology.
How does it work and what to expect?
Before anything else, the acupuncturist (acupuncture specialist) will assess the patient’s condition by asking questions related to the patient’s main health concern.
The acupuncturist will start inserting single-use needles to the patient’s body depending on the patient’s condition. It varies every patient. In my case, Tara did Electroacupuncture. With the aim of balancing body energy. You may feel a tingling sensation while doing the procedure as she uses a device that makes continuous electric pulses.
Tara also offers bits of advice on my diet, self-care, and other therapies. Treatments also vary depending on the individual. A person with a chronic condition may need 1-2 or more treatments a week for several months. Acute problems will need 7-8 sessions.
Recent researches have shown the effectiveness of acupuncture, it reduces the feelings of stress and anxiety that leads to feelings of calmness and well-being.
Cupping therapy is another traditional Chinese Medicine that use to treat various conditions. It helps loosen the muscles, sedate the nervous system, and encourage good blood flow. Tara advised me to this process every after the acupuncture session which actually helped to loosen the tightness in my chest.
The Bottom Line
I know that acupuncture still requires further scientific confirmation and explanation. There have been substantial controversies surrounding its value as a remedy or treatment. But for me, this is something I can recommend to anyone who’s really suffering from acute or chronic pains or illnesses. This might be the answer that you’ve been looking for so long.
It worked for me, this might work for you too. Why not give it a try?
Frequently Asked Questions…
Can I take a bath or shower after cupping or the acupuncture? Yes.
Can I drink cold water? Why or Why not? No, because it damages your stomach.
Does acupuncture hurt? Yes, it does. Though, Throughout the session, most of the patients will feel relaxed and sometimes even fall asleep.
What conditions can Acupuncture treat?
The WHO (World Health Organization) found acupuncture helpful in over 50 different conditions, and here are some of those:
Respiratory Allergies, Skin Disorders, Pain, Immunity problems, Infertility, Reproductive & Gynecological Conditions, and Support for Drug and Nicotine addiction.
Gastrointestinal Disorders Gastritis, Acid Reflux, Colitis, Crohn’s, Ulcers, Constipation, Diarrhea, IBS, Hiccups, Gas, Bloating, Indigestion, Gallstones, Nausea and Vomiting related to Chemotherapy or Pregnancy
Neurological Disorders Headache, Migraine, Paralysis following a Stroke, Bell’s Palsy, Shingles
Heart and Circulation Hypertension and Palpitations Edema
Emotional Wellbeing/ Mental Issues Stress
If your questions are not here, you can contact her directly at:
Ostara Traditional Chinese Medicine
Address: 82 Xom Chua, Quan An, Tay Ho, Hanoi, Vietnam