Heartburn can take the joy out of eating in less time than it takes to enjoy your favorite snack. And if you’ve got gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), the thought of your next meal may send shivers down your spine.
Acid reflux from GERD is treatable using proton pump inhibitor (PPI) medications. But these drugs can interact negatively with a host of other drugs and supplements and might lead to adverse effects in some people. There is also evidence showing that extended use of PPIs can increase the risk of liver disease. A natural drug-free treatment for GERD, therefore, could be highly valuable.
GERD impacts roughly 18-28 percent of the American public and can have a huge effect on quality of life. It leads to painful heartburn when the contents of the stomach, including stomach acid, make their way up the esophagus to irritate the throat.
A new preliminary study examined the effects of massage in treating GERD symptoms, and the results were very promising. Published in Scientific Reports, Spanish researchers found that massaging the connective tissue around the diaphragm was able to significantly reduce acid reflux in people with GERD.
The diaphragm is a muscular barrier that separates the abdomen from the chest. They believed that massaging the fascia around it—the tissue that encases and stabilizes muscles and organs—may quell acid reflux. The massage stretched the muscles around the diaphragm, and after four weeks of treatment, people with GERD experienced significantly decreased symptoms compared to a group receiving sham treatments.
Participants received two 25-minute massages per week from highly-experienced physical therapists.
Although the study was only preliminary and featured 30 participants, the four-week massage trial was very promising, likely paving the way for future research and a potentially no-risk natural treatment for GERD.
If you suffer from GERD and are looking for a new, drug-free approach to treatment, talk to a physical therapist about fascia massage.
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