Preventing The Rise of Barrett’s esophagus and Esophageal Cancer with the Use of Chinese Herbal Medicine

People can develop Barrett’s esophagus when they have been suffering from long term GERD (gastro-esophageal reflux disease) and severe acid reflux. Over time, the inflammation produces cellular changes on the esophagus lining resulting in a pre-cancerous state. Certain herbs, along with lifestyle and dietary adjustments, can help heal the esophagus and stave off the recurrence of future symptoms.

Barrett’s Esophagus – Its Causes

The Mayo Clinic says that Barrett’s esophagus can develop over a long period of GERD or acid reflux taking its toll on the esophageal lining. The cellular makeup of the esophageal wall may change and become more like the cells of the intestinal wall when the cells of the esophageal wall are exposed to stomach acids frequently. This process of change is known as intestinal metaplasia and may result in a rare form of cancer. One of the biggest reasons for the acid imbalance in the abdomen is the eating of foods that tend to generate acid reflux. Besides metaplasia, another disorder called hypochlorhydria can develop from chronic GERD or acid reflux. Hypochlorhydria is an imbalance or an absence of digestive acids. This disorder leads to negative cellular changes in the esophagus that can result in Barrett’s esophagus.

Chinese Herb Treatment of Barrett’s Esophagus

Both Western and Chinese herbs can provide relief from the symptoms of Barrett’s esophagus and acid reflux. Having been used For thousands of years, Chinese herbs have can address digestive disorders. Anecdotal evidence points to their safety and efficacy even if there’s not a great deal of scientific research available. A lot of the herbs used in Western medicine overlap the herbs used by the Chinese. You can buy both Western and Chinese herbs in health food stores and herb shops. Obscure Chinese herbs can be important for treatment. They can be purchased from a practitioner of Oriental medicine or in apothecaries specializing in Asian products. Chinese herbs should never be taken without first talking to an herbalist or natural health practitioner about their use.

Chinese Herbal Tea Use

Chinese medicine practitioners and herbalists, who prescribe herbs, usually suggest that they be taken in tea form. They recommend using both fresh and dried herbs. Buy only fresh herbs that have not been sitting on the shelf for a long time when you use dried herbs. To avoid using products that most likely have lost their potency, be sure to get rid of herbal products (if you keep them at home) that have been unused for a long time.

To prepare the tea, the right amount of herbs is added to hot water and left to boil for about five minutes. Depending on the practitioner’s instructions, reduce the heat and allow the tea to cool off for around 10 to 12 minutes. Discard the used herbs after straining the mixture. Allow the tea to cool off and then drink, as prescribed. If there is any tea left, store it in a cooler or ref so it can be drank later.

Herbal Remedies for Barrett’s Esophagus

• Selaginella – This herb slows down the development of cancerous tumors in the esophagus. Besides that, it can be used as an herbal regimen during radiation and chemotherapy to speed cancerous tumor remission.

• Oldenlandia diffusae (Snake needle grass) –Materia Medica says that snake grass is a popular Chinese medicine treatment for esophageal cancer. This herb eliminates toxins from the body and clears heat emanating from the body; rhizome and Chinese rhubarb can be used in a similar fashion.

• Green Tea – Life Extension says that Green tea possesses antioxidants known as polyphenols that is believed to help prevent esophageal cancer. This type of tea also is used to help activate the LES (lower esophageal sphincter) blocking stomach contents and acids from welling back into the esophagus.

• Licorice root – Used to coat the throat with mucilage (a thin film of mucus) in order to soothe it, licorice root has been used in China for ages. Mucilage is produced when the digestive wall comes into contact with the herbal tea. Life Extension reports that as the licorice-derived compounds increase the levels of prostaglandins, mucus production occurs producing more mucus, which results in cellular healing.

Dr. Vickery is a licensed acupuncturist in Tarzana, CA., and the founder and clinical director of Vickery Health and Wellness.

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