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Monday, February 27, 2012

[AlternativeAnswers] National Heart Awarenss Month: Heart Health and Acupuncture


Good Morning!

National Heart Awarenss Month: Heart Health and Acupuncture

The heart provides the power we need to live. Arguably the most important muscle we have. In an average lifetime, the heart beats more than two and a half billion times, without ever pausing to rest. The heart supplies the force to circulate blood throughout the body. The blood transports oxygen and nutrient to the cells of the body and carries waste and other substances from the cells. Although you can't help heredity, you can certainly "be aware" of any risk factors and ways to treat them, which can make the difference between life or death.

Acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine has been shown to significantly increase your heart health. Since many factors around heart disease involve lifestyle issues, you can take charge of your health and reduce your risk of heart disease by as much as 80% when using acupuncture. When a person has a heart attack the pain often extends along the arms. This indicates that both on a physical and emotional level the heart, arms and hands are linked. The contact point for the heart is the palms of the hands. The Heart Channel runs along the inside of the arms.

In Traditional Chinese Medicine, the heart is the Emperor of the human body. The heart corresponds to the emotion of joy. Regular expressions of joy and creativity are important for a healthy and functioning heart. As poetic as this is, true physical signs of agitation, insomnia, anxiety and the inability to feel joy, can occur. Chest pain, heart palpitations, an irregular heart beat, excessive dreaming, poor long-term memory, as well as, psychological disorders are complications a heart imbalance. Heart disease can present with two distinct signs: dyspnea (difficulty breathing) and/or angina or chest pain. Other signs include arrhythmias, orthopnea, weakness and fatigue. Risk factors include high cholesterol, smoking, genetic pre-disposition, obesity, a sedentary lifestyle, hypertension, alcoholism, diabetes mellitus, hypothyroidism. Here is how acupuncture can help:

1. Stop Smoking

Smoking is a major cause of coronary artery disease. 20% of all deaths from heart disease are in direct correlation to smoking. As an acupuncturist, I have used the NADA protocol (National Acupuncture Detoxification Association) for controlling nicotine addictiong and dependency on hundreds of patients. It has shown to be very effective for those who complete the program. Not to mention great results with stress reduction. The addition of acupuncture into the treatment for addiction seems to be very beneficial, and almost the single ingredient that helps the protocol succeed.

2. Control High Blood Pressure

Acupuncture has been found to be very helpful in lowering blood pressure. Research has been done at the Susan Samueli Center for Integrative Medicine at the University of California in Irvine. The main factor in most cases of high blood pressure is an increase in resistance to blood flow. This can occur if the diameter of your arterioles becomes smaller. Your heart has to work harder to pump the same amount of blood, and the pressure at which the blood is pumped increases. The research done at the University of California was shown to stimulate the release of opioids. This decreases the heart's over activity and the need for more oxygen. This, in turn, lowers blood pressure.

3. Helps With Insomnia

There is a strong correlation between insomnia and poor sleep habits. It is a complicating factor in many of the risks for heart disease. Research has shown that peaceful, uninterrupted sleep is needed for good heart health. Acupuncture is extremely effective for a wide range of sleep issues. Acupuncture works along the vegus nerve. The vagus reflex or vagus means "wanderer" and that is exactly what these nerves are. Attached to the brain, these nerves wander through the base of the skull into the neck, the right and left vagus nerves innervate through their branches a widespread range of body parts, from the head down to the abdominal organs. Activation of the vagus nerve typically leads to a reduction in heart rate, blood pressure, or both. This is one of acupuncture's main mechanisms for treating not only insomnia, but a whole host of other disorders.

4. Maintain A Healthy Weight

Obesity has a direct link to coronary artery disease, as well as high blood pressure and diabetes. Studies have shown that BMI or our body mass index of 40 or more indicates morbid obesity, which increases a person's risk of death from any cause by 50% to 150%. Being overweight still places you at a greater risk of developing heart disease. Acupuncture and herbal medicine is an exceptional tool when it comes to your weight loss goals. Acupuncture helps to boost metabolism, increase absorption of minerals and nutrients, regulate elimination, suppress the appetite and reduce stress. Along with acupuncture and herbal medicine, diet, exercise and good quality sleep are the proponents of weight loss.

5. Reduce Stress

Stress in our lives usually have a known cause. A certain amount of stress is normal and helps improve our performance and allows people to avoid dangerous situations. Chronic, long term stress can kill you. It is the underlying factor which can undermined anyone suffering from an illness, fear, or just plain insecurity. Many studies have touted the exceptional benefits of acupuncture in the treatment of stress, anxiety and mental health. Adaptogen herbs have also shown to be very helpful when coping with stress and stressful situations. Acupuncture provides support to the underlying energetic systems affected by anxiety, helping to resolve the cause of stress. Acupuncture releases tension in the muscles. This allows increased flow of blood, lymph, and nerve impulses to affected areas, decreasing the stress experienced by you. Acupuncture is also effective in relieving the physical symptoms associated with stress-related disorders on any body system.

Andrew Pacholyk MS L.Ac
Therapies for healing
mind, body, spirit

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