Acupuncture for Heartburn

Heartburn, caused by reflux of stomach acid, is a common symptom, and may be due to simple indigestion or due to a condition such as hiatus hernia. Proton pump inhibitor drugs, such as omeprazole, are often prescribed to control it, and if they are not working, standard practice is to double the dose.

An American clinical trial looked at acupuncture for heartburn and enrolled thirty patients who did not respond to the standard drug dose. They were randomly assigned to receive either double the dose, or standard dose plus two acupuncture sessions per week. After four weeks, the acupuncture group demonstrated a significant decrease in heartburn day and night, and in acid regurgitation. The double drug dose group did not demonstrate a significant change.

The authors noted that acupuncture was found to enhance gastric peristalsis, as observed by ultrasonography, and to accelerate gastric emptying in dyspeptic patients with documented delayed gastric emptying.

(Clinical trial: acupuncture vs. doubling the proton pump inhibitor dose in refractory heartburn. Alimentary Pharmacology Therapeutics, September 2007.)