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Integrative approach offers Eastern and Western options in treating esophageal disorders


CU-Integrative Esophageal treatmentUCLA is offering a comprehensive, multidisciplinary and innovative program designed to help patients with upper gastrointestinal disorders. In addition to making available the latest cutting-edge diagnostic, therapeutic and surgical procedures of modern medicine, the Integrative East-West Esophageal Disorders Program also offers the best of traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), including acupuncture, therapeutic massage, and patient-centered education focusing on Chinese nutrition, self-acupressure techniques and stress management. This integrative approach looks at the whole person, empowers patients to make healthier lifestyle choices, and is customized to fit one’s needs, goals and comfort. This one-of-a-kind program may be of particular benefit to those who do not respond well to or tolerate medications, prefer to avoid invasive procedures, or favor more natural therapies.

The program is a collaboration of the UCLA Center for East-West Medicine, the UCLA Center for Esophageal Disorders, the UCLA Swallowing Disorders Center, and the UCLA Division of Digestive Diseases.

Conditions We Treat

  • Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)
  • Functional dyspepsia
  • Esophageal spasm
  • Globus sensation
  • Choking sensation
  • Achalasia
  • Gastroparesis
  • Dumping syndrome
  • Throat and epigastric/abdominal pain
  • Nausea and Vomiting

What We Offer

Each patient may receive an in-depth consultation from a combination of the following centers. The evaluation includes a detailed history, thorough examination, diagnostic assessment and management plan.
The UCLA Center for East-West Medicine provides evaluation, education and treatment by clinicians formally trained in both conventional western medicine and traditional Chinese medicine. Individualized treatment programs may include:

  • Acupuncture
  • Acupressure massage
  • Self-acupressure education/demonstration
  • Trigger point injections
  • Appropriate medication adjustment
  • Stress management techniques
  • Other relevant lifestyle modifications
  • Chinese nutritional counseling

The UCLA Center for Esophageal Disorders is a comprehensive center for patients with benign, functional and malignant diseases of the esophagus. Services include consultation with the patient and their family, focused testing to identify organic causes for patient symptoms and treatment options ranging from non-operative to minimally invasive surgery.

The UCLA Swallowing Disorders Center provides expert personnel and state-of-the-art equipment for the diagnosis and treatment of swallowing disorders. Swallowing problems (dysphagia) may result in poor nutrition, dehydration or aspiration of food particles or fluids into the lungs and are often accompanied by voice impairment (dysphonia). Comprehensive evaluation of voice, breathing, and swallowing problems are provided at the center.

The UCLA Division of Digestive Diseases/Gastroenterology is a national leader dedicated to advancing the scientific understanding of digestive disorders, improving patient care and providing advanced training in the field of gastrointestinal illness. Its patient services cover the full range of treatments and its faculty represents a broad scope of expertise. The division’s technologies push the boundaries of treatment and its long history reflects a track record of breakthroughs and accomplishments.

New program complements standard of care

Chronic upper GI problems affect up to 20 percent of Americans, who may not find sustained relief with conventional treatments. The UCLA Integrative East-West Esophageal Disorders Program was established by a team of clinicians formally trained in conventional Western medicine and traditional Chinese medicine collaborating with GI, thoracic and head/neck specialists, to improve patients’ quality of life using holistic, integrated strategies.

“There is growing interest from patients to try complementary therapies,” says UCLA internist Lawrence Taw, M.D., who heads the new program, which offers comprehensive evaluation and management of chronic upper GI conditions using techniques that include acupuncture, therapeutic massage and lifestyle management, in addition to conventional therapies. “Patients want to have more control over their treatment, so we teach them how to take better care of themselves.”

UCLA gastroenterologist Eric Esrailian, M.D., notes: “Some patients with chronic GI symptoms become frustrated over time. There’s the potential to improve quality of life using a fresh approach, and the down side is minimal.”

Expert Team

Center for East-West Medicine
Lawrence B. Taw, MD
Director, Integrative East-West Medicine for Esophageal Disorders
Assistant Clinical Professor, Department of Medicine/Center for East-West Medicine

Malcolm B. Taw, MD
Director, Integrative East-West Medicine for Head and Neck Disorders
Assistant Clinical Professor, Department of Medicine/Center for East-West Medicine

Suzie Lee, FNP, LAc
Clinical Specialist, Department of Medicine/Center for East-West Medicine
Division of Head and Neck Surgery

Dinesh K. Chhetri, MD
Director, UCLA Swallowing Disorders Center
Associate Professor, Department of Surgery/Swallowing Disorders
Center Division of Digestive Diseases

Eric Esrailian, MD, MPH
Vice Chief, Division of Digestive Diseases/Gastroenterology
Assistant Clinical Professor Department of Medicine

Kevin Ghassemi, MD
Clinical Instructor,
Department of Medicine/Division of Digestive Diseases/Gastroenterology

Contact Information
UCLA Center for East-West Medicine
Phone: (310) 998-9118
UCLA Center for Esophageal Disorders
Phone: (310) 825-6167
UCLA Swallowing Disorders Center
Phone: (310) 206-6688
UCLA Division of Digestive Diseases
200 UCLA Medical Plaza: (310) 825-1597
100 UCLA Medical Plaza: (310) 208-5400

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