Ladies, do you need an excuse to tell your significant other you need a massage? Gentlemen, sick of your loved one complaining about your garlic breath? You can thank us for this blog. Because, February is Heart Health Month, and by getting a massage and eating more garlic, you're just taking care of your heart. Chicago's Pacific College of Oriental Medicine suggests 10 holistic health tips from Traditional Chinese Medicine for a healthy heart and long-term well-being. Here's to keeping your heart thumpin'.
- Get a massage! Massage can have a positive and relaxing effect on your entire body, not only addressing muscle fatigue and aches and pains, but also reducing stress—which can help to decrease the risk of heart disease.
- Hold hands. According to Traditional Chinese Medicine, the heart meridian or energy channel flows between the palm of the hand and the heart area, so when two people hold hands, they often experience a feeling of warmth in the chest as their “hearts” connect with each other.
- Try an acupuncture treatment. Studies have shown that acupuncture can be very effective in relieving stress and reducing blood pressure, in part by stimulating trigger points on the body initiating the release of endorphins, the body’s “feel good” chemicals. Neuroimaging studies have demonstrated that acupuncture can in fact calm areas of the brain that register pain and activate those involved in rest and recuperation.
- Drink tea. We’ve all heard about the beneficial effects of green tea, but Traditional Chinese Medicine also suggests trying tea made from Shan Zha (Hawthorn berries) to aid digestion and help lower cholesterol.
- Incorporate ginger and garlic into your diet. Traditional Chinese Medicine holds that the volatile oils in ginger may stimulate both the circulatory and respiratory systems. Ginger may lower cholesterol levels, deter blood clots and purify the blood. Garlic can help reduce blood pressure and may help retard plaque formation within the arteries.
- Eat a balanced diet. Nutrition is a key aspect of Traditional Chinese Medicine. Maintain heart health with a balanced diet of whole, unprocessed foods that includes raw and high fiber foods, certain raw nuts, fish, turkey, chicken, onions, lecithin and “good” fats such as olive oil.
- Get moving. Regular exercise can help maintain healthy circulation and a healthy weight, as well as relieve physical and emotional tension.
- Laugh! In Chinese Medicine, laughter is a function of the heart system and is still the best medicine! Laughter appears to increase blood flow through the body, and thus may reduce the likelihood of heart disease.
- Meditate. Meditation can help to decrease metabolism, lower blood pressure, and improve heart rate and respiration, in addition to creating significant and lasting changes in brain activity.
- Practice Tai Chi and QiGong. Tai Chi – which like QiGong is a practice that combines isometrics, isotonics, aerobic conditioning, meditation, and relaxation—may reduce blood pressure and serve as a practical, nonpharmacologic adjunct to conventional hypertension management, according to a National Institutes of Health systemic review of clinical trials.
Dr. Ed Lamadrid is a licensed massage therapist and acupuncturist, Chinese medicine practitioner, professor and Campus Director at Pacific College of Oriental Medicine in Chicago.