5 Ways To Care for Your Heart
According to Chinese Medicine (TCM), the heart is the king of all organs. It is considered a Zang organ, or one that regulates internal functions along with the lung, spleen, kidney, and liver. Zang organs are paired with yang organs or organs that regulate external functions such as nutrient absorption, digestion, and elimination. Yang organs include the gallbladder, small intestine, stomach, large intestine, and bladder. The heart is paired with the small intestine through which the former plays a much bigger role in general. An ancient Chinese text, the Shen Shi Zunsheng Shu describes the heart as “the root of life, the seat of [spirit], the master of blood, and the commander of the vessels.” In short, if you have good heart health, your body will generally stay healthy, as well. Read on for how you can best care for your heart.
Affairs of the Heart
Unlike Western medicine, which views organs individually, Chinese medicine views organs as interrelated aspects of the vast network within your body. Therefore, following the yin-yang principle of balance, if any one of your organs is not functioning as it should, at least one other organ will be affected as well. In Western medicine and according to the American Heart Association, keeping your heart healthy is a matter of choosing a healthy eating plan, being physically active, avoiding smoking or secondhand smoke, and being apprised of family history. In addition, tips by age group are also recommended such as managing stress, being mindful of weight and blood sugar levels, and learning warning signs of a heart attack and stroke. While TCM also acknowledges good nutrition, activity, and smoking as important factors in heart health, it also takes into great account how all other organs and facets of life interconnect. In some ways, it is more complex to explain, but yet, oh-so-logical. Here are 5 ways, according to Chinese Medicine that you can help keep your heart healthy.
The emotion of the heart is joy. The more honest-to-goodness joy you experience, the more you are feeding your heart. A lack of joy affects the heart and depletes its energy, which can lead to other issues such as insomnia, poor concentration or memory, or an inability to focus. Living a joyful life and expressing emotions freely is an excellent way to fill your heart with energy and keep your body healthy.
Try this: Look in the mirror and smile. Do this several times. Feel gratitude for yourself. Can you feel the difference between a pretend smile and a heartfelt one? Smiling stimulates the heart and brings a sense of internal peace and even joy.
We are a big proponent of good, quality sleep and regard it as one of the most often-overlooked health solutions for all ailments. Dealing with matters of the heart is no different. Constantly getting too little or bad quality sleep can even affect your longevity and lead to high blood pressure and heart disease. Depending on your specific sleep problem, acupuncture and an herbal formula tailored to your needs can help stimulate the flow of qi (energy) and relax the body and mind to promote sleep. Also, practice good sleep hygiene. Institute a regular bedtime schedule, create a cool, dark, comfortable bedroom, and turn off your tech devices an hour or two before bed.
Speak From Your Heart
In TCM, by observing the tongue, the condition of the heart can be seen. If the heart is in balance, the tongue will be a healthy red color. Conversely, if there is insufficient blood in the heart, the tongue may appear pale. If there is blood stagnation, the tongue will appear dark purple. Cracks or lines down the center of the tongue may also indicate an imbalance of the heart in some way. The tongue is also the “root” of the heart, meaning that problems with speech are also a good indication of a heart imbalance. Symptoms like speaking very quickly, talking incessantly, laughing inappropriately, and even stuttering indicate a heart imbalance. Speech is a powerful force. Speaking from the heart often demonstrates the connection of the heart by the words we speak.
Pay Attention To Cravings
Sense of taste is also a reflection of the heart’s energy. If the heart is healthy we are able to taste and enjoy all the flavors. A bitter taste is associated with the heart, meaning if you find yourself craving bitter foods your heart may be asking for support. Bitter foods include coffee, red wine, kale, Brussels sprouts, arugula, citrus fruits, endive and radicchio, and cocoa.
Protect Your Qi
While it’s true that your body and its organs need qi to power their functions, they also require the right “message.” The heart is more than just king of the organs, it is the king of the kingdom. TCM believes that the heart houses your spirit and its power is in its capacity to coordinate the physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual messages it receives. It is an all-encompassing organizing force. Your heart takes in and relays countless messages and impulses between organs. So, if your heart is troubled, its function will be affected and will, in turn, affect the function of other organs. In TCM, the path to a strong, balanced heart is to create an open, peaceful heart. This is accomplished in many ways, but mainly through meditation and service. Practicing “Baby Heart” or cultivating soft, pure, nonjudgmental qualities is another way to feed the soul of your heart. From a TCM perspective, it isn’t possible to have true health without having a peaceful heart.
In Western medicine, there are certainly “signs” associated with heart disease. Precursors often include high cholesterol, high blood pressure, peripheral artery pain, arrhythmia, angina, and more. Other even more serious signs might include cardiac events, stroke, or aneurysms. Acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine have been used for centuries in treating disorders of the heart.
If you are looking to take a proactive approach in caring for your heart and health, reach out to us. We can help to uncover the signs and symptoms of systemic imbalances that may lead to heart disease.