According to the American College of Gastroenterology, over 60 million Americans experience heartburn, or acid reflux, at least once a month. This condition occurs when stomach acid moves up into the esophagus. In some people the pain is intense enough to require hospitalization. Other people suffer silently, popping antacids to try to dull the burning sensation. Acid reflux is thought to be caused by many factors, such as obesity, smoking, eating too close to bedtime, and eating many acidic foods, such as coffee, chocolate, fried foods and tomato-based foods.
Take a moment to step away from what you just read about acid reflux. Let’s look at this painful symptom from a different angle. Could it be that the body is giving you a sneak peek into the deeper energetic workings of your body? Traditional Chinese medicine views symptoms as messages of a deeper imbalance. Getting to the root cause of the problem will not only fix the problem for good, it will rebalance the body itself. Once the body works in harmony, disease—or symptoms such as acid reflux—cannot and will not appear.
Three organ systems—Spleen/Stomach, Liver/Gallbladder and Kidney/Bladder—must cooperate with each other fully to create a healthy digestive system. If your Stomach becomes bloated after you eat, you have GERD (Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease), acid reflux, IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome) or a stomach ulcer, your body is using a different language to communicate with you. It’s sending signs of a deeper issue–your digestive system has fallen out of balance and is not functioning as it should. These kinds of symptoms indicate that the Liver and Stomach are not functioning in harmony. Something physical or nonphysical, like emotions, has disrupted their relationship. For healthy metabolism function to be restored, the Liver and Stomach must each be balanced themselves. They also must cooperate as supportive partners.
The body has to function as a wholly integrated, multidimensional system.
All aspects—body, mind and spirit—have to cooperate for optimum health. Think of your car. For it to operate smoothly, the engine has to function properly. But that’s not all! The engine also has to cooperate with the wheel, which is connected to the steering mechanism. When you push down on the brake pedal, it has to engage other parts to be sure you stop safely. All parts of the car have to function properly themselves. Then they need to work together so the car rides well. You also need some form of energy to power the car. And don’t forget—you need to be a good driver.
Car companies create cars with all of these integrated systems in mind. In order for the car to function at its potential, all systems must work well independently and together. Your body functions in much the same way. As a car has an engine system, braking system, hydraulic system, transmission system, steering system, and more. Your body has a circulatory system, digestive system, endocrine system, muscular system, nervous system, and more. In addition, the human body has an invisible energetic system that connects all of these physical systems. In order for the body to function at its potential, the physical systems must be in tip-top shape. They also must communicate with each other energetically. When that energy flow is disrupted, symptoms begin to appear.
How can I help my body to regain its balance?
Recognizing that these symptoms are expressive of a deeper imbalance is the first step! After that, follow these three steps to take action and help your body get back into balance.
1. Avoid Cold. Cold is a serious pathogen, which is as destructive as any virus or bacteria. So, think warm. Keep your body warm on cold days. Be sure to cook vegetables and add warming spices. Avoid raw foods and cold drinks, even in the warm weather.
2. Allow things to flow! Not just at the body level, but at the mind, body and spirit level. When something becomes stuck or cannot move, blood and Qi cannot flow freely through the body. That’s when symptoms such as acid reflux, GERD, breast tenderness and menstrual problems start to appear. The flow of emotions is controlled by the Liver/Gallbladder, which is at its highest peak in Spring. If you continually hold in or suppress emotions or you allow your emotions to become excessive or chronic, your body will let you know by producing symptoms. Practice letting go!
3. Practice flexibility. Are you adaptable to life’s changes? Are you able to go with the flow? Practicing flexibility means following Nature’s laws, not human law, as well as following your own feelings. Flexibility is essential for healthy metabolism function. It is associated with your beliefs, thoughts, feelings, personality, and even life situations. Often, we believe that there are many things we can control or must be responsible for. If we can embrace the concept that there are no accidents and recognize there are many things outside of our control, we can begin to let things go easily. Practice becoming flexible in small ways first, then adapt your lifestyle to include larger changes. Stop doing things because you think you “must.” Instead, listen to your inner voice and find out what makes you truly happy—then practice that.