TCM Guide For A Healthy Heart Routine
Summer is the perfect time to think about your heart health and changing up your health routine. It's the season for Heart Fire and let's make sure your fire is burning bright. In this blog, I will give simple and effective health tips to implement for a heart health routine you can start for the summer season or really any time you think you need some extra support for cardiovascular health. You will learn symptoms to look out for, possible causes that can lead to heart disease, acupressure, nutrition, and herbs to optimize your heart health and prevent cardiovascular disease.
TCM HEART HEALTH
Let's take a quick overview how TCM views the cardiovascular system by looking at 5 Elements, heart functions, symptoms, and causes for disease.
According to TCM each season has associated organ systems and the cardiovascular rules the summer. It is also known as the Fire Element and it's the Fire season of summer. By using the associations listed below you can help support your heart. For example, wearing the color red has the wavelengths that support the heart. Embrace the summer months and doing activities that bring you joy.
5 Elements Associated with Heart
Time-11:00 a.m.-1:00 p.m
TCM HEART FUNCTIONS
The cardiovascular system has the same functions as Western Medicine and has some additional functions. The heart is called the "Emperor" of the body that rules all the organs and aspects of self. It makes when science proves that the heart can beat on its own without the help of the nervous system. The heart comprises of the mental, emotional, and spiritual aspects of self.
TCM Functions Of The Heart Are:
Controls the blood-makes blood by transforming the food Qi into nutrient rich blood and circulates it
Controls blood vessels-health and condition of your blood vessels
Controls the circulation of blood
Houses the Spirit-mental, emotional, and spiritual self aka consciousness
THE SYMPTOMS OF HEART DYSFUNCTION
Cardiovascular dysfunction comes with certain symptoms to be on the look for. Listed below are few example of symptoms that can be an indicator that you maybe experiencing some cardiovascular dysfunction.
Common Symptoms Heart Patterns:
Palpitations, irregular heart beats
Chest discomfort, angina
Shortness of breath
What Can Cause Cardiovascular Problems?
In the United States, heart disease is the #1 cause of death. This can be from coronary heart disease, arrhythmias, and angina are risk factors that can lead to heart attack. According to the CDC, 1 person dies every 34 seconds and about 697,000 died in 2020 from heart disease. This is truly a health crisis!
The key to avoiding cardiovascular disease is to prevent inflammation and high levels of insulin. Think less carbs and more veggies to get lots of antioxidants.
TCM Factors For Heart Disease
Overworked, high stress and work-life pressures
Excess emotions can deplete the heart especially grief, anger, worry, and too much joy or lacking joy/love
Indirectly pathogens that attacks the pericardium around the heart muscle
Climate of over exposure of extreme heat
Fun Heart Facts
Your heart beats about 60-100 beats per minute. That's about 100,000 beats per day, wow! For your entire life! That requires a lot of work and resources to keep that up.
Your heart pumps about 2,000 gallons of blood throughout your body every single day.
Your heart is electrically powered.
Your heart can be up to 4 hours outside the body.
TCM HEALTHY HEART ROUTINE
Listed below are some tips you can implement to help support optimal heart health. I've included acupressure, nutrition, and herbs that you can try and incorporate what works best for you.
ACUPRESSURE FOR CARDIOVASCULAR HEALTH
Acupressure is a technique that is done stimulating acupuncture points by applying pressure to it. This will trigger a positive physiological reaction to your body. Specific acupuncture points have particular functions.
Acupuncture Point Heart 7
Heart Health Acupressure Protocol
Apply pressure by gently massaging it for 1-3 minutes and can be done on both sides.
Close your eyes, slow down your breathing, and allow your body to relax.
Connect with your heart and mind.
Feel the calming sensation wrap around your heart, body, and mind.
More About Acupuncture Point Heart 7
Called Shen Men or the Spirit Gate
Nourishes heart blood and can address anemia
Calming sedating point-treats stress, mental and emotional issues like anxiety, panic, and drug withdrawals
Treats insomnia-excellent to when lying in bed or if you can't sleep
Regulates heart and circulation-hypertension, hypotension, chest pain, palpitations, varicose veins
3 NUTRITIONAL TIPS FOR HEALTHY CARDIOVASCULAR SYSTEM
In TCM healthy food is viewed as medicine. Here are some foods and herbs to incorporate into your diet to support and optimize a healthy heart. The heart is more susceptible to having too much fire/heat which can dry it out or not enough blood to keep it nourished. All these negative aspects can damage your cardiovascular over time if not corrected. So you will learn foods that will contain the Heart Fire, blood building foods, and foods to avoid.
Tip 1-Consume Bitter foods
The flavor that is associated with the Fire Element is BITTER. The action of bitter has a cooling affect and clears heat. It also has a calming effect to counterbalance stress and mental strain. CAUTION: It does have a drying effect so use with caution (especially you ladies) if you have dry symptoms like skin, eyes, mouth, or hair. This also includes too much coffee. I know there's tons of research claiming how great coffee is, but that is in moderation. It dries up the blood and body fluids so please limit your coffee intake to 1-2 cups per day.
BITTER FLAVOR FOODS FOR HEART HEALTH
Tea (black-neutral, green-cooling)
Dark Chocolate (70% or higher)
Tip 2-CONSUME RED FOODS
The color of food is another tip. Foods that are red are good for the heart. Since red is the color for the heart and blood these types of food are most likely what we call "blood tonics". Foods that have pigments in red, purple, and blue are called anthocyanin. These foods are rich in antioxidants so eat up!
Tip 3-AVOID THESE FOODS
There are some foods that just aren't great for heart health. This includes greasy, heavy, and fried foods. Another important food to avoid consuming ice cold and frozen foods and drinks if you have heart disease or symptoms that are listed above. The nature of cold is to tighten and constrict. When you consume ice cold drinks or frozen foods that constricts your esophagus as it goes down. Your heart is next to the esophagus and the cold can restrict the blood vessels of your heart or the heart muscle. You definitely don't want that to happen!
3 Best Herbs For Heart Health
Here are 3 of my favorite herbs that are great for heart health and are used in TCM herbology.
Garlic is called Da Suan and contains a compound called allicin that provides so many benefits. Consuming garlic daily has tremendous benefits for cardiovascular health like reducing cholesterol and triglycerides. Garlic a herb that enters the heart and resolves phlegm and dampness which is way it can help with cholesterol issues. Research shows help reduce blood pressure, reduce clots, and artery stiffness.
CAUTION: If you tend to run warm or have hot flashes then this might not the herb for you. It is hot in nature and tonifies the Yang. So if you are running warm then consuming garlic could make it worse.
You can take it in capsule form or better is to crush a small glove and let sit for 10 minutes to active all the potent compounds. Then chop it into small pieces and swallow it down with water at meal time. Please don't take on empty stomach! I promise it won't feel good on your gut.
Turmeric is called Jiang Huang. It does enter the Heart and has bitter flavor.
Curcumin is the polyphenol compound that makes it yellow-orange color. It's properties are anti-inflammatory, antioxidants, antithrombin, and cardiovascular protective. It can lower cholesterol
Fresh is BEST! You can find turmeric root at health food stores or local Asian market and use in recipes. The downside too using powder form is that it isn't bioavailable which means that once it goes through your digestive tract most of the active properties are lost and it is fat soluble. So to increase absorption is take it with black pepper, fat, and slightly heat it.
Hawthorne berries is called Shan Zha and known as the "Heart Herb". The phytonutrients in these berries can strengthen heart function, stabilizes blood pressure, improves blood circulation, reduce angina (chest pain), and reduces risk of heart disease. These berries contain potent antioxidants called flavonoids.
Hopefully you have some simple tips to implement in a heart health routine to optimize a healthy heart and prevent cardiovascular disease. A healthy lifestyle that includes exercise and regular acupuncture treatments are always encouraged in the prevention of disease.
Wishing you a VIBRANT LIFE!