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French fries, Anger, Constipation, and how they relate to heartburn – Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) perspective on various causes of heartburn

by / Tuesday, 18 July 2017 / Published in Article, TCM

By Robert Tan, R. TCMP, R. Ac, B. Sc

When the words heartburn or acid reflux are mentioned, commonly we think of feelings of burning in the throat or esophagus, along with pain in the stomach or chest. And even though many heartburn symptoms can be attributed to improper dietary habits (such as frequently consuming fried or overly greasy foods, or excessive alcohol consumption), sometimes the causes can appear more mundane, and can include emotional fluctuations or improper gut health.

Emotions and heartburn

The TCM model draws connections between emotions and diseases. For example, excessive anger and stress can aggravate a liver imbalance, and this can result in liver energy negatively affecting the stomach, therefore causing heartburn symptoms, a phenomenon that we call “wood (liver) attacking earth (stomach)”. Besides the usual heartburn/acid reflux symptoms, affected individuals are also likely to notice pain on sides of the rib cage, constant dry mouth or excessive thirst, or a bitter taste in the mouth.

Gut health and heartburn

Improper gut health can also cause common symptoms of heartburn/acid reflux. For sufferers of constipation, having too much backed up stool in the intestines can prevent stomach energy from properly descending into the lower abdomen; it then comes back up and results in common heartburn symptoms. Affected individuals are likely to experience constipation, along with increased flatulence, excessive sweating, and possible hot flashes.

Suggestions for improving heartburn issues

If you are suffering from these issues, here are some suggestions to help:

  1. Consider cutting overly greasy food, alcohol, or coffee from your diet in order to reduce the amount of damp heat in the stomach.
  2. If you are constantly stressed, frustrated, or angry, consider doing some meditation, or giving yourself some off-time, or just relax more! This is much easier said than done, but will prevent possible liver imbalances from worsening.
  3. If you are suffering from constipation, consider consuming more fibre in the diet to help facilitate bowel movements. Foods such as green vegetables, flax seeds or chia seeds are all rich in dietary fibre.

If you would like help dealing with these issues, or have further questions, please contact Newmarket Acupuncture to set up a consultation and I’d be happy to discuss with you further.

Phone: 416-800-8541


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Yours in good health,

Robert Tan