Cardiovascular health is an important focus for many people, yet few people are aware of the profound benefits that acupuncture can offer to strengthen the health of this vital system. In fact, you might be surprised at what the right combination of needles (called an ‘acupuncture point prescription’) can do for you. Some issues associated with your heart include atherosclerosis, congestive heart failure, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol. Keep in mind that although acupuncture can improve the health of your heart, you should still follow the advice of your doctor and continue taking any medications that he/she prescribes. One of the great things about acupuncture is that it can be performed alongside prescription medication – there are never any side effects due to proper acupuncture treatment, no matter what medication you might be taking.
In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) the Heart (capitalized to differentiate from the anatomical heart) is in charge of circulating blood in your body. A healthy Heart organ, therefore, leads to well-nourished tissues in your body, and a weak Heart can lead to palpitations and chest pain, much like a heart in scientific terms. In TCM, however, it is also believed that your Heart houses your Spirit, and thus has a much deeper significance.
TCM practitioners consider your Spirit to be an integral part of your health, as it is through your Spirit that you connect to the world, expressing wisdom, virtue and emotional well-being. Issues with your Heart therefore, can also manifest as sleep problems, joylessness, forgetfulness, and in extreme cases even manic behaviour.
The health of your Heart is reflected in your facial complexion, and so a healthy Heart gives you a rosy complexion, while a weak Heart will leave you pale. Furthermore, excess heat in your Heart system will give rise to a reddish complexion, and Heart stagnation will make your face more purple in colour.
Some acupuncture points that help your Heart are located on your wrist and forearm, your chest, and your upper back. Since TCM is a holistic medicine, points elsewhere on your body would also likely be used as support. On your own, you should do light exercise (following your physician’s recommendations) and also supplement your diet with foods that have a bitter taste to them, as bitterness is the flavour associated with the Heart. And not surprisingly, joy is the emotion associated with the Heart, so nourish lots of joy in your life!