Acupuncture for Acid Reflux

Studies done at the University of Adelaide in Australia observed the use of low pulses of electricity to stimulate an acupuncture point, the P6 or pericardium 6 (Neiguan) that is located on the wrist. This point corresponds to acid reflux and other upper gastrointestinal issues. Stimulating this point leads to a decrease in the relaxations of the LES (lower esophageal sphincter) which also means the lessening of acid reflux episodes.  This is so because the relaxation of the LES is suspected to cause the flowing back (reflux) of acid into the esophagus. The stimulation significantly cuts down the relaxations of transient lower esophageal sphincter by 40%, (6/hour prior to treatment to 2.5/hr after treatment).  This cut was also substantially higher compared to the results seen in the placebo group (the group given fake stimulation on the hip).

Acupressure is a traditional Chinese medicine procedure that uses manual (hand) pressure over an acupoint (acupuncture point) in lieu of the needles used in acupuncture treatments. Stimulation of an acupoint using mild electrical pulses is a more modern version of the traditional type of acupuncture.  By applying manual pressure over the acupoints predetermined by ancient Chinese charts, certain organs and regions of the body can be effectively treated of their ailments utilizing the energy of the energy pathway system known as Yin.  This results in the proper balance of Qi and Yang thus enabling the body to recover by itself.

The stimulation of the acupoint utilized in the aforementioned study was a 20th century version of a very old Chinese procedure; the needles are substituted by electrodes where electrical pulses flow into selected acupuncture points on the skin. Based on traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) theory, these points are related to the energy pathways that convey energy all over the body. The stimulation of the acupoints promotes the smooth flow of Qi (energy).

An acupressure practitioner or even you yourself can put pressure to the Neiguan point using the fingers. Acupoints are usually found in between and beside ligaments, tendons and bones. They are not located on arteries, blood vessels or bones but rather in the depressions between or beside them.  Acupressure is a growing medical option to treat morning sickness, sea sickness, motion sickness, nausea, vomiting and postsurgical nausea. This type of TCM procedure has also been utilized for the relief of migraines, chest pain, epilepsy, fever and insomnia.  There are wrist bands for acupressure that are called “sea bands” and can provide a healing effect similar to that of an acupressure procedure. This sea band fits comfortably on the wrist. It is fitted with a small plastic button that when pressed puts pressure to the Neiguan point.  These wrist bands are believed to be helpful in the lessening of acid reflux episodes.


Ivelisse DeJongh is a Miami acupuncturist and the medical director at DeJongh Acupuncture Clinic.