The heart is emperor of all the bodily organs, according to the philosophy of acupuncture and Oriental medicine, and for good reason. If this precious organ stops beating for just a few minutes, the body can perish. No other organ must perform with as much continuity and regularity than the heart.
Like most emperors, this organ has its bodyguard, called the pericardium. Heart tissue cannot regenerate itself nearly as quickly as other kinds of organs like the skin and liver, so this tough, fibrous sac encases the heart to protect it from foreign invaders, physical damage, and destructive emotions.
Some practitioners of acupuncture and Oriental medicine thus choose to treat specific heart-related ailments via the pericardium, instead of working directly on the heart. Effectively, this means utilizing acupuncture on the pericardium meridian, in place of the heart meridian. A meridian is a fixed pathway upon which energy circulates throughout the body.
From a medical perspective, the heart forms part of the cardiovascular system to perform many functions. It manages the intricate network of blood vessels to regulate blood flow and serves as a transportation system to deliver nutrients, hormones, and oxygen where they are needed. Additionally, it acts as a waste disposal system to rid the body of metabolic waste and other harmful substances.
However, in acupuncture and Oriental medicine, the heart takes responsibility for the circulation of the life force of the body <i>Blood, the basic unit of energy that powers all of life <i>Qi</i> and it is the center of consciousness <i>Shen</i>.
The <i>Shen</i> embodies our capacity for logic and emotional intelligence. When it is disturbed by injury, trauma, illness, bad diet, bad lifestyle choices or an accumulation of daily stress, it is said to be 'disturbed.' Having a harmonious <i>Shen</i> is of the utmost importance for maintaining heart health.
One obvious way to keep your ticker in tip-top shape is by maintaining an acceptable blood pressure level. Elevated levels can lead to coronary heart disease and hypertension. A practitioner of acupuncture and Oriental medicine can offer treatments that will work directly to reduce high blood pressure and mitigate the symptoms of stress.
Often, it is the unbalanced energy produced by the liver that is a big culprit in this condition. Liver meridian energy is, by nature, very active and easily flares upwards in an aggressive, uncontrolled manner. This rising Liver Qi aggravates the heart so that blood is pushed too forcefully against the arterial walls. If this aggression persists for too long, a heart attack, kidney damage, and other serious consequences may result.
Acupuncture points on the feet aim to reverse the upward flow of Liver Qi. The needles are positioned in a downward direction to guide the energy. In addition to a lowering of blood pressure, other symptoms associated with rising Liver Qi such as headaches, red eyes, bursts of anger, and stress should reduce as the body responds to the treatment.
One way Oriental medicine can increase your physical activity and keep stress at bay on a daily basis is through the use of tai chi. Tai chi is a gentle exercise that keeps you moving and helps keep stress at bay. More like a slow, rhythmic dance tai chi is designed to encourage the body and mind into a state of calm. The routines involve continuous motions that are not difficult to learn and are gentle enough for any age group to engage in.
If tai chi isn't your thing or it is not possible, walking is a beautiful alternative. Even a 20-minute stroll every day can provide benefits to the heart. The walk can be brisk or a slow lollygag--the main thing is to move your body continuously and get the heart pumping. Try taking the stairs and avoiding the elevator, or purposely parking your car a few blocks farther than your destination.
Contact a practitioner today to see how acupuncture and Oriental medicine can benefit your heart and help you live a long, healthy life!
Source: Giovanni Maciocia. (2013). The Heart Channel: More Than the Shen. Retrieved from http://maciociaonline.blogspot.com/2013/02/the-heart-channel-more-than-shen.html
About the Author: Vanessa Vogel Batt, L.Ac., MSTOM, studied at the Pacific College of Oriental Medicine, and practiced acupuncture and Oriental medicine in New York for several years. Vanessa enjoys traveling the world, and has published articles on acupuncture and Oriental medicine and related health topics for websites and publications in both the U.S. and abroad.