Can acupuncture improve heart health?
This week saw us mark World Heart Day 2020, the moment when we take a moment to recognise the role that cardiovascular disease (CVD) plays in global health outcomes and think about how we can all do more to protect ourselves.
One of the most staggering health statistics at the moment is that CVD and circulatory health issues are responsible for more than a quarter of all UK deaths each year – 27%, to be exact. In pure numbers, that translates to 170,000 deaths every year.
And if that isn’t stark enough for you, that’s the equivalent of one death every three minutes. It’s a terrifying reality – but the most alarming fact about heart health is that according to Public Health England, the majority of deaths from CVD are preventable.
The truth is that while modern life has brought with it great innovation and technological advances, those things have come at a cost.
Automation and technology has made us more sedentary. The frantic pace of our late 20th and early 21st Century lives has also taken a huge toll on the personal responsibility we take for our diet and nutrition – the explosion of fast food restaurants is evidence of that.
On top of that, we tend to live with more stress and anxiety, less sleep and more pressure on the small amounts of time we have away from work.
When you take all of that into account, it’s hardly any wonder that heart health is top of the agenda when it comes to mortality rates in the UK.
Acupuncture is a remarkably effective way to help improve your heart health because just as the heart is central to human life, so it is also at the centre of traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) philosophy and treatment.
And if you were ever in any doubt of its importance in TCM healing, ancient Chinese texts refer to the heart – one of the five key (or zang) organs along with the spleen, kidney, lung and liver – as the emperor of the human body.
It is a fundamental belief in ancient Chinese medicine that these five organs, but the heart in particular, are responsible for regulating all internal function in the human body. As a result, their health has a direct and significant effect on general health.
But the heart plays an even bigger role in your health because according to ancient Chinese health practitioners, the heart is the ‘root of life’, the seat of shen (spirit), the master of blood and the commander of the vessels. The heart has life energy – or qi and blood – in abundance, allowing it to replenish all other cells, tissues and organs elsewhere in the body.
Put simply, if you look after your heart, you’ll look after your health.
Acupuncture can help to improve and maintain heart health by removing blockages in the network of pathways within which your qi travels, allowing it to be delivered where needed to restore balance.
By committing to a regular programme of acupuncture, it’s possible to ensure balance is maintained, and because acupuncture is holistic in nature, it means it also treats underlying issues and conditions – including those you weren’t even aware of.
But as with all health regimens, acupuncture alone isn’t enough to keep your heart healthy, and one of the key principles of World Heart Day is to empower and inspire people to take responsibility for implementing the changes that can improve heart health.
Exercise – lack of physical activity is one of the heart’s biggest enemies. Aim to take 15 minutes of exercise each day. But remember – if you haven’t exercised much in the recent past and/or you have existing health conditions, be sure to talk to your GP before undertaking anything other than gentle exercise.
Diet – foods that are high in fat are a big contributor to heart disease. Try to watch your fat intake, cut down on high fat foods and make sure you eat plenty of fruit and vegetables – and get some fibre into your diet (bananas are great for this!)
Smoking – if you’re a smoker, commit to stopping. Your local GP surgery will have plenty of advice and practical support available for those who want to give up smoking. You know how dangerous it is to your heart and health, I’m sure – so I won’t repeat it here. But quitting will make a huge difference to your circulation and lung function.
Sleep better – we all struggle with sleeplessness from time to time, but if it’s become a chronic problem, then acupuncture can help here, too. If you tend to burn the candle at both ends, try to go to bed a little earlier to catch your window for good quality sleep.
Stress – the link between stress and poor heart health is well known. Acupuncture, hypnosis and other complementary therapies can help to resolve the causes of stress and maintain a stress-free life.
If you’d like to find out more about how acupuncture can improve your heart health, why not get in touch with us for a confidential and no-obligation chat?