A study published in the American Journal of Physiology – Gastrointestinal and Liver (2005) indicates that stimulation of certain acupuncture points inhibits esophageal sphincter relaxations by as much as 40 percent.
Although the cause of gastro-esophageal reflux disease, or GERD, is still unknown, there are treatments available on the market to help with the symptoms. However, many of the existing treatments come with side effects and their effectiveness can be limited.
The American Physiological Society opened eyes by pointing to the effectiveness of electrical acupuncture point stimulation in reducing the key mechanism of GERD, transient lower esophageal sphincter relaxations (TLESRs). This important muscle allows food to pass into the stomach when working normally. In people who have GERD, the muscle relaxes at the wrong times, allowing stomach acid to churn up into the esophagus and cause heartburn symptoms.
By applying only mild stimulation to an acupuncture point on the wrist known as Neiguan (Pericardium 6), researchers were able to reduce the frequency of TLESRs from six to 3.5 an hour in research subjects. Sham stimulation of a hip point produced no comparable change.
Article from March 2013, Qi Mail™ The Acupuncture Newsletter.