Here’s to a Healthy Heart

As you may be aware, February is National Heart Month.  What you might not be aware of is that Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine can play a huge role in improving your heart health.  In this article, we explain the Oriental Medicine perspective of the heart and share tips on incorporating time-tested therapies into your health improvement plan. 

The Heart from an Oriental Medicine Perspective

In both Oriental Medicine and Western Medicine, the heart is known to have the function of pumping blood throughout the body to maintain life.  However, in Oriental Medicine it is thought of as the ruler, or Emperor,  of the other organs, and involved with mental and emotional processes.

There are 3 key characteristics of the heart system in Oriental Medicine:

The heart houses the mind and spirit.

The heart is considered the residence of the mind and spirit (the shen), and is often involved in psychological imbalances. The realm of the heart includes the full range of human mental activity or consciousness, including the thought process, emotional health, mental function, focus, memory, and spirituality. The process of thinking is accomplished by the heart and blood is the main foundation for mental activities.  When properly nourished and balanced, the heart maintains our innate wisdom, contentment, and emotional balance.  Some symptoms of heart imbalance include palpitations, shortness of breath, sweating easily, mental restlessness, insomnia, forgetfulness, chest pain, tongue pain, and burning urine.

The heart and circulation are reflected in the face.   

Because the heart is responsible for circulation of blood throughout the body and because the face contains so many blood vessels, we say that the heart is reflected in the face.  When the heart is strong and possesses sufficient blood, the facial complexion is rosy, and the individual looks robust and healthy. When deficient, the person may look pale and unhealthy.

The heart opens into the tongue.  

This means that the state of the heart is apparent on the tongue.  Difficulty with speech is a good indicator that there is a heart problem.   Pathological issues can also be seen in the color of the tongue especially on the tip of the tongue.  A red tongue tip may reflect heat in the heart or too much fire with symptoms such as sleep issues, red face, irritability, tongue or mouth ulcers and a bitter taste in the mouth.

Caring for Your Heart

As the Emperor of the organs, the heart works to maintain life within the body.  In return, the body must work to nourish the heart.  Both Eastern and Western medicine agree that lifestyle plays a critical role in heart health.  Managing high blood pressure, reducing stress, eating healthy, maintaining a healthy weight, regular physical activity, and improved sleep are all of vital importance in maintaining a healthy heart.  Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine have been shown to be of great benefit as patients set out to work on each of these lifestyle factors.    

In Eastern medicine, the emotion of the heart is joy.  When we experience joy, we are feeding our heart.  When we lack joy, are stressed, or anxious the heart is impacted.  When we have imbalances in our heart system they may show up as insomnia or dream disturbed sleep, forgetfulness, concentration problems and even irrational behavior.  There are many different ways to reduce stress, including herbal medicine administered by a knowledgeable herbalist, Qi Gong exercises, dietary therapy, and meditation.

Obesity studies have shown that excess body weight, as well as the associated medical conditions can also lead to heart problems. Being overweight, even if you are otherwise healthy, places you at a greater risk of developing heart issues.  Small steps taken each day can be part of a greater lifestyle change needed to keep the heart healthy.  Eating in tune to the seasons, going out for daily walks, even standing at your desk and stretching are all way to improve your health.  

Poor sleep has been linked with high blood pressure, atherosclerosis, heart failure, heart attacks, stroke, diabetes, and obesity. Researchers have shown that getting at least eight hours of sleep is needed for good heart health and getting less than eight hours of sleep can put you at a greater risk for developing heart disease.  Meditation, watching caffeine consumption, and following a regular sleep schedule are ways to feel well rested.

Improving your Heart Health with Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine

In the U.S., National Heart Month’s focus is on lowering Blood Pressure and while important, we take a little different approach by focusing on the underlying cause of the imbalance in your heart system.  By integrating acupuncture and Oriental medicine into your heart healthy lifestyle, you can reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease significantly - some say by as much as 80%.  

Acupuncture has been found to be particularly helpful in lowering blood pressure. Studies have shown that acupuncture stimulates the release of opioids, which decreases the heart’s activity and its need for oxygen thereby lowering blood pressure.

Oriental Medicine is definitely a tool that can contribute to a healthy body weight While not a “quick fix”, Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine work energize the body, maximize the absorption of nutrients, regulate elimination, control cravings that lead to overeating, and by reduce anxiety.

In order to fix the problems that come with poor sleep, we look at the root cause of the sleep problem and work to resolve that imbalance so that you can get the sleep you need for a strong heart.  Acupuncture has great success treating a wide array of sleep issues without any of the side effects of prescription or over-the-counter sleep aids.  

Preventative care is always the best approach when it comes to the Heart.  Much like a car that needs a “tune up” to prevent something more serious from happening, your heart can benefit from regular acupuncture treatments to ensure the smooth flow of blood throughout the body.  

For more information on ways to keep your heart healthy, follow the links below:

Links to more information:

Sleep and Cardiovascular Disease

Study: Obesity fuels silent heart damage, increased risk of future heart failure

Acupuncture helps heart patients

Be sure to try our Heart Healthy Recipe!

Posted in Lifestyle, Nutrition, Health Conditions