Research Update – Acupuncture and the Heart
A study published by the National Institutes of Health looked at the prevalence of acute myocardial infarction, or heart attacks, on participants that received acupuncture treatments compared with those who did not. The group of participants that were selected to receive acupuncture went through at least one acupuncture treatment course (six sessions). The results showed those receiving the acupuncture treatment series were less likely to experience a heart attack. And the more treatment sessions, the less likely a heart attack would occur. This study shows regular acupuncture treatments can indeed be helpful at preventing heart attacks.
Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), just like Western medicine, believes the heart is responsible for the circulation of blood. 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. Both medical systems agree a weak heart can manifest as palpitations, chest pain and even heart disease or a heart attack. Where the two medical systems diverge is this: Traditional Chinese Medicine also acknowledges that the heart “houses the mind.”
In TCM, the heart and the mind are virtually inseparable. 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. Conversely, a weak mind or uncontrolled emotions can lead to a sick heart.
Regular acupuncture treatments have been found to be 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 in turn helps lower blood pressure. Acupuncture also decreases the resting heart rate and blood pressure by helping to decrease stress levels.
Unmanaged, chronic stress can lead to heart disease, high blood pressure, heart arrhythmias and even heart attacks. Numerous studies have shown that stress can be 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.
Poor sleep and insomnia have been linked to heart failure, heart attacks, high blood pressure and strokes too. TCM can help treat a wide array of sleep problems without the harsh side effects of many pharmaceuticals. When a person is rested, their heart will generally be healthier.
Without a healthy heart, the body cannot function properly and the mind may be clouded and disconnected. Contact a licensed acupuncturist in your area to see how TCM can assist you with all of your heart health needs.