The Heart according to TCM
February is Heart Health Month in Canada.
In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), the Heart is the most important organ in the body — it is the master of the body and mind. Any disease affecting the Heart quickly disturbs all other organs and their functions. Physically, the heart is like an engine that powers blood circulation through the body. Qi, loosely translated as energy, moves the Blood, and Blood nourishes the Qi.
But the Heart does so much more than just pump blood! It is also involved in thinking, emotions and spiritual consciousness, according to TCM. In western culture, the heart has long been connected with emotions; it is not a coincidence that Valentine’s Day, the day of love, is found in this month. When one’s blood circulation is in balance, thought processes and mental activities function well. Unrelenting stress, however, causes a domino effect in the body, unbalancing the Heart, disrupting hormones and sleep, tensing muscles and breathing patterns, and disturbing our spirit.
According to TCM, the Shen is the mental-emotional aspect of a person. The Heart is the throne upon which our Shen peacefully sits. It is said that a healthy Heart with no obstructions does nothing other than allow our spirit to rest peacefully within it.
The Shen enables people to radiate outwards from their spirit. It gives a person the sparkle in their eyes, an inner vitality, joy of being, and an alert mind.
There is a link between physical and mental-emotional health. The healthy functioning of a heart is obstructed mostly by lifestyle choices such as:
- Improper food choices
- Drugs, including alcohol and too much caffeine
- Insufficient or inappropriate exercise
- Lack of sleep
- Poor dental hygiene
- Infectious diseases
How Acupuncture Helps:
- Reduces stress, anxiety, restlessness and insomnia
- Improves mental clarity
- Lowers blood pressure and heart rate, which then can lower cortisol and adrenaline levels
- Acupuncture works by addressing the body as a whole.
- Health, in TCM, equates to energetic equilibrium. Acupuncture points restore the normal flow of energy bringing balance and health.
A Few Healthy Heart Tips:
1. Laughter relaxes your blood vessels allowing more blood, along with nutrients and oxygen, to reach all areas of the body.
2. Attitude: We’ve all heard that old-fashioned expression, “Count your blessings”. Try to cultivate a positive attitude even in the face of adversity. Your heart will be better for it! Remember that exercise stimulates your mood and mental function, decreasing anxiety and depression.
3. Exercise: Your heart is a muscle, and all muscles tone up and strengthen with exercise. A daily walk in nature reduces stress hormones and blood pressure. A moderate work-out at the gym, also relieves stress, encourages blood circulation, and strengthens muscles including the heart.
4. Managing Stress: Take time to relax and get rid of stress. Listen to music, spend time with friends, get acupuncture!
5. Sleep well! Good quality sleep reduces stress, improves the health of your arteries, is a factor in weight loss, balances your hormones, gives the body time to repair itself, and keeps the mind sharp. These are a few of the many benefits of a good night’s rest.
6. Take care of your teeth: Did you know there is a direct link between a healthy mouth and a healthy heart. Brush and floss daily!
7. Friendship: The heart is the seat of your emotions. It is where love, intimacy, and bonding to others happen. Many people feel isolated and lonely. Reach out and be a friend!