Acupuncture is widely used to treat both serious and benign heart conditions, often times avoiding the need for Western medical intervention. An acute event such as a heart attack, of course, necessitates the immediate attention of a physician. Pulse diagnosis in Oriental Medicine can be very effective at picking up even minor blockages of blood flow in the heart. In addition, pulse diagnosis may reveal cardiovascular risk factors such as coronary spasms, high blood pressure, stress, inflammation, and arteriosclerosis. Acupuncture is used for angina pectoris, palpitations and other disorders of heart rate and rhythm, high blood pressure, heart murmurs and more.
Acupuncturists work with the body by placing needles in carefully selected acupuncture points having well-known empirical effects. Acupuncture improves blood circulation throughout the body and within the heart specifically. Another way in which acupuncture benefits heart health is through the mechanism of homeostasis—acupuncture helps to bring the body back into a state of balance and health.
High blood pressure is a common risk factor of cardiovascular disease. Even with the use of multiple drug strategies to control high blood pressure, treatment outcomes are poor and chronic use of such drugs can cause severe side effects. As a result of their research on the effect of acupuncture on high blood pressure of patients using 1-3 antihypertensive drugs, Cevik and Iseri concluded that “acupuncture should be in the hypertension treatment guidelines and widely used for blood pressure regulation.” After one month of acupuncture treatments (received every other day) significant reductions were found in blood pressures (average systolic reduced from 163.14 to 129.49 and average diastolic reduced from 94.37 to 79.31). (Acupunct Electrother Res. 2013; 38 (1-2): 1-15.)
Some of the most enjoyed benefits of acupuncture are stress reduction and profound relaxation. Acupuncture has a direct effect on the sympathetic nervous system; it has even been shown to significantly reduce sympathetic nerve activation in patients with advanced heart failure who were on a waiting list for a heart transplant. This effect can be life saving as patients suffering from advanced heart failure experience 2-3 times the normal sympathetic nerve activation.
Pulse diagnosis in Oriental Medicine can also detect milder heart conditions, such as heart murmurs. Although most heart murmurs are benign, this does not mean they do not cause symptoms. Anxiety, difficulty sleeping, chronic fatigue, and emotional sensitivity are often associated with heart murmurs. Acupuncture helps relieve the symptoms of heart murmurs by improving the efficiency of blood circulation through the heart. Patients who receive regular acupuncture treatments experience better sleep, more energy, and feel more resilient.
Oriental Medicine excels in the areas of health promotion and disease prevention—a healthy heart is no exception. If you (or someone you know) are concerned about heart health, I encourage you to try acupuncture. The sooner we discover your symptoms, the more quickly we can help.
Remember…acupuncture is good for the heart!
Kelli Miller, Kelli N. Miller, LAc, DiplAc, MSOM, MSPSY