Expert Opinions

Expert Opinions Archive
Are Chinese herbs effective against heartburn? I'm interested in this ancient tradition.

W.E., Alberta, Canada

Herbal expert Harriet Beinfield, L.Ac., of Chinese Medicine Works, San Francisco, and co-author, with Dr. Efrem Korngold, of Between Heaven and Earth, a classic book on Chinese medicine, comments:

"Heartburn is a symptom of poor digestion. According to Chinese medicine, a burning sensation in the upper stomach is a sign of excess heat. Common Western remedies such as Maalox, Tums, or prescription drugs treat symptoms but don't address the underlying causes. Chinese herbal formulas for indigestion often contain ingredients similar to those in Western remedies. But they're combined with herbs such as ginger, radish, cilantro, and unripe orange peel. When taken together in the form of a tea, powder, or pill, not only do these herbs neutralize acid and clear the heat, but they help restore stomach function, eliminate gas, and counter acid reflux (which traditional Chinese healers refer to as "rebellious qi").

"Chinese herbal formulas may bring relief. Because heartburn is sometimes due to a weak stomach that allows food and acid to regurgitate upward and irritate the esophagus, it's important to take herbs that strengthen the stomach and restore normal function as well as alleviate symptoms. Two commonly used Chinese herbal formulas--available at Chinese herbal apothecaries--are Shang Sha Liu Jun Zi Wan (Pill of Six Ingredients, with cardamom and Saussurea) and Shang Sha Yang Wei Pien (Tablet for Nourishing the Stomach with cardamom and Saussurea). Ask your pharmacist for dosage information."

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