As February is Heart Health Month, we thought it would be appropriate to go beyond focusing only on the physical heart, and to also include the “heart-mind” connection.
In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), the heart system refers to both the physiological pump that moves blood around our body and also the mental/emotional centre. This concept of the heart being related to emotion is also understood in the West, illustrated by familiar phrases like, “have a heart” and “put your heart into it.”
According to the acupuncture meridian system, the heart meridian affects both the physical heart and the mind. Treating this meridian system can help clear the mind, relax the nervous system and improve sleep and memory. When there is heart-mind harmony, we observe that people are friendlier, have clarity in their thinking and can tackle seemingly difficult problems with ease. However, when there is a heart-mind imbalance, various issues may arise. In his book, “Healing with Whole Foods,” Paul Pitchford writes about the general symptoms of a heart-mind imbalance:
- Scattered or confused mind
- Excess or a lack of laughter
- Speech problems (stuttering, excess verbiage, confused speech)
- Mental illness
- Loss of memory
- Poor circulation
- Weak spirit
If you identify with any of the above symptoms, here are some solutions:
- Speech: One method practiced in TCM is to use speech to help clarify the mind. The scattered mind and its spirit can be collected and organized through mindful speech patterns. According to Dr. Pitchford, examples of these include: prayer, meditation, devotional singing, mantras, affirmations and silent contemplation of uplifting images.
- Acupuncture: Acupuncture is a TCM treatment method that uses fine needles inserted into certain points of the body. It has been shown to be effective in relaxing the nervous system, calming the mind and balancing the spirit.
- Dietary Recommendations: According to TCM, a simple diet with occasional light fasting can help focus the mind.
- Food to avoid: excessively rich and spicy foods, refined sugar, alcohol, coffee, late-night eating and large-evening meals.
- Foods that reduce nervousness and support the heart include:
- Whole grains in moderation: whole wheat, brown rice, and oats
- Mushrooms: most mushrooms have positive effects on the nervous system.
- Foods rich in silicon: oatstraw tea, barley gruel, cucumber, celery, lettuce. These foods improve calcium metabolism and improve nerve and heart tissue.
- Seeds: Jujube seeds (ziziphus jujuba) and chia seeds have calming effects.
- Spices: dill and basil
- Herbs: chamomile, catnip, scullcap and valerian are all known to help improve insomnia.
Lastly, for those who need a little more support you may wish to consider an intravenous (IV) therapy drip. Our “Calm IV Therapy” formula has a combination of vitamins, minerals and amino acids necessary to help the body and brain create those calming bio-chemicals.
Dr. Jeffrey Lee, ND, R.Ac.