Heart palpitations can refer to the sensation of the heart skipping a beat and is sometimes described by patients as their heart “Flip Flopping”. The heart can also be racing and even pounding. It is important to know if the palpitations are associated with coronary heart disease, hyperthyroidism, asthma or other serious medical conditions, so if you are worried get checked out by your GP. For over two thousand years, acupuncture and Chinese herbs have been used to treat heart palpitations.
According to traditional Chinese medicine, what causes palpitations?
In Chinese medicine, heart palpitations can be due to a number of different patterns of disharmony. There are some patterns that identify the energy, yin or yang component of the heart being weak and deficient hence causing the palpitations. In other case, the gall bladder and even phlegm can play a role in causing heart palpitations.
What are some of the other symptoms that may be associated with palpitations?
There are many other symptoms that according to traditional Chinese medicine can be accompanied with heart palpitations. These can include the significant symptom of sweating. Chinese herbalists are careful in prescribing various herbs that cause too much sweating and do not prescribe herbs for long periods of time if they cause sweating. There is a saying in Chinese medicine that says, “When you sweat too much, you are losing blood from the heart.“ Other symptoms can include tiredness, cold extremities, frequent sighing, chest pain and shortness of breath. Sometimes there may even be impaired memory and insomnia.
Are the acupuncture points used for palpitations always on the heart meridian?
There are many acupuncture points used to treat palpitations and some of them are on the heart meridian itself, especially those near the wrist crease. Other acupuncture points are also used, such as Stomach 36, which is on the leg.
What about Chinese herbs for palpitations?
Many different Chinese herbs or Chinese herb formulations are available in the treatment of palpitations. The other signs and symptoms of the patient determine which herbs may be used. One formula is called Heavenly Emperor Supplement of the Heart Elixir and has been used for many centuries.
What about the emotional factors associated with palpitations?
Strong emotional responses such as fear and shock can trigger palpitations but even minor stress can be a problem. Scott Pearson of the Newtown Acupuncture Centre, opposite Wellington Hospital says “In Chinese medicine theory, the gall bladder governs decision making and the heart stores the mind. If either of these organs are weak, even a small upset could trigger palpitations in a vulnerable person.”
Acupuncture aims to restore balance and harmony in the body and with that, an increased ability to deal with the common daily stresses of life. It is still important though, to consider taiji and meditation to help reduce stress and keep those palpitations at bay.