Five Differentiations of GERD: Class Highlights from Dr. Suiping Huang

On Saturday, February 11th, The World Chinese Medicine Forum hosted the first session in their Top Experts from China: Digestive Health Series with renowned TCM gastroenterologist, Dr. Suiping Huang. Dr. Huang is Chief physician, professor, and doctoral supervisor of Guangzhou University of Traditional Chinese Medicine and China’s leading voice on digestive health.

With his decades of clinical expertise, Dr. Huang shared the most effective ways to differentiate and treat Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD). After providing an overview of the disease, Dr. Huang delivered a unique TCM perspective on how GERD can present in five different ways and offered the ideal treatment protocol for each case.

1. Syndrome due to depressed heat in the liver and stomach

  • Main symptoms: 
    • Heartburn
    • Acid reflux
  • Accompanying symptoms:
    • Burning pain behind chest bones
    • Burning pain in the stomach
    • Fullness and distension of the abdomen
    • Belching and acid reflux
    • Irritation and susceptibility to losing temper
    • Noise in the stomach, frequent feelings of hunger
    • Red tongue, yellow coating, string-like pulses
  • Therapeutic methods:
    • Dispersing liver qi and purging fire, harmonizing stomach and descending adverse rise of qi
  • Formula:
  • Dr. Huang’s Formula Ingredients:
    • Chai Hu, Zhi Qiao, Bai Shao (Chao), Mu Dan Pi, Zhi Zi (Jiao), Xiang Fu, Xuan Fu Hua, Zhe Shi, Huang Lian, Wu Zhu Yu, Gan Cao

2. Syndrome due to gall bladder heat affecting the stomach

  • Main symptoms:
    • Bitterness in mouth, dryness in throat
    • Heartburn
  • Accompanying symptoms:
    • Distension and pain in the abdomen and hypochondria regions
    • Pain in chest and back
    • Acid reflux
    • Belching and regurgitation
    • Insomnia due to vexation
    • Noise in the stomach and frequent feelings of hunger
    • Red tongue, yellow and greasy coating, string-like and slippery pulses
  • Therapeutic methods:
    • Clearing gallbladder heat, descending qi and harmonizing stomach
  • Formula:
  • Dr. Huang’s Formula Ingredients:
    • Long Dan Cao, Chai Hu, Zhi Zi (Jiao), Huang Qin, Dang Gui, Xuan Fu Hua, Zhe Shi, Ban Xia (Fa), Zhu Ru, Zhi Qiao, Chen Pi, Gan Cao

3. Syndrome due to deficiency of spleen and adverse rise of qi

  • Main symptoms:
    • Acid reflux or vomiting watery stomach contents
    • Belching and regurgitation
  • Accompanying symptoms:
    • Dull pain in the stomach
    • Distension and pain in the stomach
    • Loss of appetite
    • Lassitude and lack of strength
    • Loose stools
    • Pale tongue, thing coating, thin and weak pulses
  • Therapeutic methods:
    • Dispersing liver qi, reinforcing spleen and harmonizing stomach
  • Formula:
  • Dr. Huang’s Formula Ingredients:
    • Chai Hu, Bai Shao (Chao), Zhi Qiao, Dang Shen, Bai Zhu (Chao), Fu Ling, Ban Xia (Fa), Chen Pi, Ginger, Da Zao, Gan Cao

4. Syndrome due to qi stagnation and phlegm obstruction

  • Main symptoms:
    • A sensation of phlegm obstructed in the throat
    • Discomfort in chest
  • Accompanying symptoms:
    • Belching or regurgitation
    • Difficulty swallowing
    • Hoarseness 
    • Choking and coughing at midnight
    • White and greasy coating, string-like and slippery pulses
  • Therapeutic methods:
    • Relieving depression and reducing phlegm, descending qi and harmonizing stomach
  • Formula:
  • Dr. Huang’s Formula Ingredients:
    • Xuan Fu Hua, Zhe Shi, Ban Xia, Hou Po, Fu Ling, Zi Su, Zhi Qiao, Xiang Fu, Tai Zi Shen, Sheng Jiang, Da Zao, Gan Cao

5. Syndrome due to static blood obstructing collaterals

  • Main symptoms:
    • Burning pain or stabbing pain in substernal areas
  • Accompanying symptoms:
    • Back pain
    • Hematemesis or black stool
    • Heartburn and acid reflux
    • Belching and regurgitation
    • Dull pain in the stomach
    • Pale and dark tongue, or tongue showing ecchymosis, unsmooth pulses
  • Therapeutic actions/methods:
    • Activating blood and resolving stasis, moving qi, and stopping pain
  • Formula:
  • Dr. Huang’s Formula Ingredients:
    • Tao Ren, Hong Hua, Dang Gui, Chi Shao, Chuan Xiong, unprepared Di Huang, Jie Geng, Yan Hu Suo, Chai Hu, Zhi Qiao, Ban Xia, Chen Pi

Beyond these five syndrome differentiations, Dr. Huang presented additional facets of GERD treatment including herbal modifications for specific symptoms, acupuncture points for treating both excess syndromes and deficient symptoms, and preventative therapies.

The full video recording of this session is available HERE for those who are logged in and registered through the World Chinese Medicine Forum. Even though the live class has passed, you can still REGISTER to view the recording and learn from Dr. Suiping Huang’s wealth of clinical experience.