Acupuncture is defined as a disease or pain treatment using filiform needles inserted at specific points on the skin.
For more than two millennia, traditional Chinese acupuncture has been used as a treatment for digestive conditions. A traditional Chinese medicine practitioner usually inserts acupuncture needles into certain points of the body to alter the circulation of yin and yang energy and to bring back the normal function of the body organs. The points where the needles are inserted are based on the specific causes of a patient’s reflux. Acupuncture may or may not be used alongside herbal Chinese medicine.
For people who want an acupuncture treatment without the use of needles, they can avail themselves of acupressure. Acupressure is the application of pressure to affected areas and/or organs of the body using manual pressure or any kind of pressure other than needles. For GERD or gastro-esophageal reflux disease, the Neiguan or P6 point which is believed to lessen the relaxation of the LES or lower esophageal sphincter is applied with manual pressure. When the frequency of relaxation is lessened, it helps reduce or prevent any episodes of acid reflux. The P6 has been treated for thousands of years with acupuncture or acupressure to help treat motion sickness, vomiting, and nausea.
The P6 is an acupoint found between 2 tendons at the wrist’s underside. It is situated in the middle of the wrist near the crease where the arm and the hand meet. When this point is inserted with a needle or applied with pressure, the person may experience a slight numbing sensation but never pain. You can always find acupoints in between tendons and bones, never on arteries, blood vessels, and bones.
Some people who have used acupressure on their own and have applied pressure on the Neiguan point have experienced a significant improvement in their GERD condition although the effects may be much better if they get acupressure treatment from professional practitioners.
Recent studies have showed that Maitland acupressure and acupuncture work in helping relieve GERD symptoms. The Gastrointestinal and Liver Physiology journal issue August 2005 published by the American Physiological Society showed that the activation of specific acupoints lowered by as much as 40% the number of esophageal sphincter relaxations.