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Patient Help Sheet: TCM for Heart Health

Heart health is extremely important. Without a healthy heart, the body does not function properly. The same can be said for a healthy state of mind. This is where Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) can be extremely beneficial. TCM, a medical system that dates back nearly 3,000 years, uses multiple modalities to treat illnesses and conditions of the mind and body.

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 TCM and conventional medicine 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 and sleep soundly. 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. And conversely, a weak mind or uncontrolled emotions can lead to a sick heart.

Heart health can be reflected in the facial complexion also. A nice 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. When the complexion is reddish, this may indicate heart heat. This is one of the diagnostic tools that TCM practitioners use to determine the disease pattern of their patients.

Looking at some of the different modalities incorporated into TCM, there are many ways a person can manage their heart health. Here are some ways that TCM can help.

Acupuncture for Heart Health: Inserting hair-thin, solid, filiform needles into acupressure points along the body can help tremendously to keep your heart healthy. Acupuncture has been shown to lower blood pressure, calm the mind, relieve stress and decrease any pain that might be occurring. Acupuncture also stimulates blood flow, making circulation more effective.

Acupuncture Points for Heart Health:

· Governing Vessel 20 – This point is located on the top of the head, midway between the apexes of both ears. GV20 stimulates circulation throughout the body and calms the mind.

· Heart 7 – This point is located bilaterally on the underside of the wrist, at the outermost end of the wrist crease. H7 can help with heart arrhythmias, panic attacks, hypertension, insomnia and much more.

· Liver 3 – Located bilaterally on the top of the foot, in the depression about one thumb-width from the edge of the webbing between the first and second toes. L3 is a great point for improving blood circulation and relieving anxiety.

Chinese Herbs and Formulas for Heart Health: Another important component of TCM is the use of herbs and herbal formulas. Many times the herbs can be used alone, but there will be a more synergistic effect when single herbs are combined to make a formula. One such herb is San Qi. San Qi invigorates the blood, removing blockages, and it is also known to lower blood pressure. One of the most popular herbal formulas is Suan Zao Ren Tang. This formula nourishes the blood, calms the spirit and clears heat, which are all symptoms that can be associated with an imbalanced heart.

Dietary Recommendations for Heart Health: Nutrition can also be very important in keeping the heart healthy. Berries are loaded with antioxidants that can reduce the risk of heart disease. Chia seeds and flax seeds are high in omega 3 fatty acids that can help lower blood pressure. Other foods like asparagus, nuts, dark chocolate, beans and green tea can also help to maintain a healthy heart.

Seeking help from a locally licensed acupuncturist is a great way to take care of your health. If you are experiencing any chest pains or stroke symptoms, it is best to go to urgent care first, just to make sure there is no serious damage.

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