In the spirit of Valentine’s day, let’s talk about heart health. Did you know, the heart will beat over 100,000 times pumping roughly 2,000 gallons of blood each day! Heart health is massively important to one’s overall wellbeing. When the heart is strong, circulation will be sufficient, the body will be well-nourished, and the pulse will reflect that by being full and regular. Traditional Chinese Medicine (or TCM), just like Western medicine, believes the heart is responsible for the circulation of blood. Both medical systems agree that a weak heart can manifest in palpitations, chest pain, heart disease, or lead to a heart attack. Where the two medical systems differ is this: a TCM practitioner acknowledges and uses many other qualitative diagnostic reasoning tools and unique non-invasive therapies right there in the office to ideally prevent but also treat chronic systemic imbalances, including cardiac irregularities.
What does this mean? When you go to see a TCM doctor they will look to your body for clues, but more often than not they don’t need to refer you for more exams and tests. For example, they have the ability to read your pulse evaluating things like “quality of expansion” and “duration of cycle” not simply the rate and pressure. A pulse reading in TCM is one of many diagnostic tools that take practitioners years of intensive training to perfect. This is why it is so important to seek advice from medically trained professionals, such as myself and my colleagues. Your body is asking to find wellness, it just takes a trained ear to listen.
A TCM Perspective on the Heart:
In TCM, the heart is the “king of all organs”. Other organs will sacrifice all to keep the heart in motion; this involves giving away their energy and nutrient supply (commonly referred to as Qi). The heart governs the ability to think clearly, sleep soundly, and maintain a good memory. Our emotional state is strongly influenced by how healthy or unhealthy our heart may be. A weak and deficient heart may create feelings of anxiety and mania, while also contributing to insomnia, forgetfulness, and lack of concentration.
Heart health can be reflected in the facial complexion. A rosy complexion indicates a strong healthy heart, while a pale or sallow complexion is indicative of a deficient, weak heart. If the heart blood becomes stagnant, the complexion may have a purplish tint.
Acupuncture and TCM have been managing heart health for centuries. Regular acupuncture treatments are very helpful in lowering blood pressure. The needles stimulate the release of opioids, which then decrease the heart’s activity and its need for oxygen. This will help the body lower blood pressure, increase oxygenated blood flow, and regulate the heart’s rhythm.
Stress is another factor that can greatly affect the health of the heart. Unmanaged, chronic stress can lead to heart disease, high blood pressure, heart arrhythmias, and even heart attacks. Numerous studies have shown stress can be easily managed through the use of acupuncture. TCM offers more than just acupuncture to treat stress though. Herbal formulas and exercises like tai chi and qi gong are all wonderful tools for managing stress and keeping the heart-healthy.
When the heart is balanced and healthy, it results in an easy transition into sleep. If you have insomnia, the heart is often treated. Difficulty falling asleep, nightmares, and sleep terrors can result when this organ is unhappy. If you are the type of person who lies in bed forever, unable to fall asleep because your mind is racing, acupuncture can help to settle the heart energy and give you a great night’s sleep. Yet again, TCM can help treat a wide array of sleep problems without the harsh side effects of many pharmaceuticals. If you are ready to start your journey to wellness, don’t wait, give us a call today.