Acupuncture can give temporary relief to the symptoms of heartburn, but a further treatment may be needed after a few days. Even a couple of days' respite, however, can be a huge relief to a patient who has been suffering constantly. There are various syndromes that equate with heartburn, including Stomach Heat and retention of food in the Stomach. If the Stomach Qi is weak, the symptoms are likely to be more severe.
When giving a treatment for heartburn, my main aim is to:
• strengthen the Stomach and Spleen
• eliminate stagnation in the Middle Burner
• clear Heat if necessary.
Different acupuncture points are used depending on which week of her pregnancy the patient is in. (Note: I never use abdominal points on the abdomen of a pregnant woman.) For example, at 24 weeks the fetus is at the level of the umbilicus and by 32 weeks it is between the umbilicus and the xiphisternum (see Fig. 4.6). Useful points to use prior to 32 weeks would be CV-12, 13 and 14.
• CV-12 is very good for Heat in the Middle Jiao and is a good point for retention of food in the Stomach. I would recommend leaving the needle in place for 20 minutes.
• CV-13 is the best point to subdue rebellious Qi and for Excess Stomach patterns.
• ST-44 clears Heat in the Stomach.
• ST-45 clears Heat in the Stomach but it also dissolves the accumulation of food and can help with insomnia due to retention of food.
• LI-11 to clear Heat, especially if the heartburn is accompanied by constipation. At a first treatment for severe heartburn, depending on the pattern and how many weeks pregnant the woman is, I would use LR-11 and ST-44, using an even technique and leaving the needles in place for up to 30 minutes. The aim of treatment is to clear Heat.
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