Q. Lena Jantz: On your advice, I’m doing daily breathing and meditation exercises, and these have been very useful in helping me cope during tough crisis moments. I’m also taking antioxidant vitamins and ginseng to boost my immunity, which I know gets taxed by stress. In addition, I’ve been getting acupuncture treatments once a week for seven months now; this has reduced my stress symptoms but hasn’t eliminated them completely. How much longer should I continue with acupuncture sessions? Also, I’m now aware that for me, stress first manifests itself through heartburn and then moves to other parts of my body. Do you have advice for preventing and treating heartburn naturally?
A. John Dye, ND: Although I’m certain that acupuncture does help some people deal with stress-related symptoms, I encourage you to talk to your acupuncturist about whether to continue your treatments. Unless you notice a benefit over time, it may be advisable to make some changes or to take a different approach.
Stress and acid reflux can definitely be linked, so I’m not surprised you’re experiencing heartburn. Acid reflux can be aggravated by eating fried or spicy foods, as well as chocolate, citrus, coffee, tea, alcohol, and carbonated drinks. High-fat diets tend to worsen acid reflux symptoms, while a high fiber intake may help. Try decreasing the fat in your diet, particularly saturated animal and hydrogenated fats, and increase the fiber by eating more whole grains and fresh produce. Before attempting to treat heartburn on your own, however, consult your physician to confirm the diagnosis and to find the appropriate action for you. (For more advice on treating acid reflux naturally, see "I've been plagued with heartburn most of my adult life.")