The Heart According to TCM/ Acu & Stress
In Traditional Chinese Medicine, the heart can be considered the most important organ in the body. All other organs connect to the heart and help the heart function as best it can. According to TCM, regulated blood circulation depends on the heart’s energy flow, or Qi. When the heart does not have enough Qi and is deficient in Yang, it can result in poor blood circulation, weak pulse, palpitations and chest pain.
A Heart Yang deficiency is associated with coldness. When Yang is not in balance, circulation slows resulting in extreme coldness and a pale face. A Yin deficiency happens when one is overworked and does not give the body and mind a chance to slow down. Fatigue and anxiety are symptoms of a Yin imbalance.
Imbalances in the heart can result in many other issues as well. When one is stressed, a domino effect happens in the body. The liver’s function decreases when the body is in high stress, therefore it cannot support the heart.
According to TCM, the heart is also the source of consciousness and thinking. When one’s blood circulation is in balance, their thought processes and mental activities function well. If the heart’s energy is deficient, one can experience anxiety, insomnia and restlessness.
TCM believes that acupuncture treatment can reduce stress and return the heart to health. When one is consistently stressed, there is an increased level in adrenaline and cortisol due to a raised blood pressure. When these stress hormones increase in the body, one is more susceptible to blood clots and a risk of heart attack.
Acupuncture works by lowering the body’s blood pressure and heart rate, which then can lower cortisol and adrenaline levels. Specific acupuncture points are used on the body to relax the mind and address problems like hypertension and symptoms of heart disease.
Acupuncture works by addressing the body as a whole. When there is an imbalance in the heart, acupuncture points work to return the body back to its normal energy flow, which improves the function of the organs.
6 Healthy Foods for the Heart
Changing the way you eat is one of the best ways to improve heart health. By making an active choice to improve your lifestyle, you can see your heart health improve greatly as well. Below are superfoods to incorporate into your diet.
Salmon contains omega-3 fatty acids, which have been shown to help decrease the risk of an irregular heartbeat, lower plaque build-up in the arteries and decrease triglycerides, the main type of fat in our bodies. It is recommended by the American Heart Association to eat salmon or other fatty fish at least twice a week.
Believe it or not, potatoes can be very beneficial for heart health. Potatoes are packed with potassium and fiber, which can help lower blood pressure and risk for heart disease. As long as they are not fried, potatoes can be a great food option.
You can’t go wrong with nuts. Almonds, walnuts, pistachios, peanuts and macadamia nuts are rich with fiber and vitamin E, which helps lower cholesterol. Don’t be skeptical by the high fat content of nuts, those who eat nuts regularly have been shown to be leaner than those who don’t. Walnuts among other nuts also contain high amount of omega-3 fatty acids.
There are many benefits to vegetables such as broccoli, spinach and kale. These vegetables can especially help your heart because of the high amounts of vitamins, minerals and carotenoids, which act as an antioxidant. Including green vegetables into your diet every day not only can improve overall health but give the heart a boost.
Avocados are packed with monounsaturated fats that can help lower the risk of heart disease and help control cholesterol levels. This fruit is also rich in antioxidants and potassium, making it a superfood that can be easily incorporated into meals.
Oatmeal is not only practical and affordable, but high in soluble fiber, which can help lower cholesterol. Choose oatmeal or plain oats with no added sugar. Make sure to be especially careful with instant oatmeal, which a lot of times contains added ingredients.
6 Tips to Reduce Your Blood Pressure
Affecting one in three adults, high blood pressure is one of the most common health issues in America and most often the result of busy schedules and high-stress jobs. Sometimes it can be hard to slow down, however, addressing high blood pressure is very important to improving overall health and quality of life. Below are natural ways that can help lower your blood pressure.
Working less hours is one of the hardest commitments for Americans for multiple reasons. According to a study done by the University of California, Irvine, those who worked more than 41 hours a week had an increased risk of hypertension by 15 percent. Try to stick to 40 hours a week in the office. Take advantage of those vacations days when you can, you deserve it!
Drink less caffeine
A study done by Duke University Medical Center found that consuming around three cups of coffee has a lasting effect on blood pressure. Caffeine tightens blood vessels, which results in an increase in blood pressure. When caffeine increases blood flow, it magnifies the feelings of stress you are probably already feeling. Try to cut down on the coffee and turn to decaf.
Researchers at the University of Florence in Italy found that listening to calming music for 30 minutes daily can help lower blood pressure. Listeners who practiced this daily ontop of deep breathing lowered their average systolic reading by 3.2 points. Taking the time every day to listen to music and relax is simple and effective.
Acupuncture is an effective natural treatment for hypertension. Traditional Chinese Medicine believes that when one has high blood pressure, the body is out of balance. Acupuncture works to relax the body and mind and return the body’s natural energy flow back to balance. TCM believes the Liver and Kidney organs are associated with high blood pressure and focuses on these acupuncture points to relieve stress.
Massage therapy is well known for reducing stress and hypertension. A study done at the Wirral Metropolitan College Department of Medicine found that patients experienced less muscle tension and a lower heart rate after massage therapy treatment. Massage is non invasive and not only relaxes the body, but the mind as well.
Lowering your blood pressure is not something that happens overnight. Sticking to a healthy diet and exercise plan and finding a natural treatment that works for you can help you get back on the road to health and reduce stress and hypertension.
Heart Healthy Recipe
This recipe is filled with vegetables that not only taste delicious but are heart healthy as well!
30 oz. canned black-eyed peas
2 green onions, sliced
1 cup fresh or frozen corn, thawed
1 small bell pepper diced
½ cup chopped cilantro
3 diced jalapenos
2 cups of diced tomatoes
3 clove minced garlic
2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
2 tbsp. lime juice
½ tsp. lime zest
1 tsp. ground cumin
salt and ground pepper to taste
Combine black-eyed peas, onions, corn, bell pepper, cilantro, jalapenos, tomatoes and garlic into a medium-sized bowl. In another bowl, whisk olive oil, lime juice, zest and cumin together. Pour over vegetables adding salt and pepper to taste and toss altogether. Served best when chilled for 2-3 hours. Enjoy!