Patients coming in for acupuncture treatment for complaint of palpitations also report of sleeplessness that goes with the strong heart beats. Most of the time a deficiency of Blood and Heart Chi are the underlying causes of this condition. When the differential diagnosis shows indeed Blood and Heart Chi deficiency, acupuncture in conjunction with Chinese herbal remedies are chosen by traditional Chinese medicine practitioners to deal with this condition. Arrhythmias can arise in this situation and acupuncture with herbal medicine can effectively reduce or completely treat the arrhythmia, insomnia and palpitations. Usually the irregular heartbeats are much easier to treat when the beats are frequently irregular. This means that when no distinguishable pattern exists to the arrhythmia, the arrhythmia may be much easier to address.
Healthy individuals are not immune to having palpitations especially when they experience anxiety, stress and fright. Substances such as alcohol, nicotine and caffeine can also contribute to temporary episodes of palpitations. During pregnancy, a lot of pregnant women can also experience palpitations. Palpitations are either feelings of a heart beat that is stronger than normal or a rapid heart beat. They can be felt as skipping beats from time to time and may seem as though they originate from the neck, throat or chest. Persistent episodes are signs for treatment as are palpitations coming with syncope, chest pain or dizziness.
Palpitations are classified according to a number of conditions in traditional Chinese medicine (TCM). They usually manifest as Fire caused by Yin deficiency, Blood and Chi deficiency and disturbance of the shen. Shen disturbance typically occurs as a result of fright and can come with pathogenic factors such as abdominal disorders, phlegm fire rising, anger, depression and internal phlegm with heat. Blood and Chi deficiency affecting the heart can lead to palpitations. Constitutional weakness, chronic diseases and blood loss are factors that can damage the heart. Over-concentrated thinking harms the regular production of Blood and Chi and may weaken the Spleen and the Heart as well. Overindulgence in sexual activity and chronic disease can diminish the Kidney Yin and make it difficult for Water (yin) to harmonize with Fire (yang). When this happens the Heart Fire becomes stronger and goes upward disturbing the shen in the process. Palpitations can also arise from dirty water stagnation. Usually, chronic Kidney and Spleen Yang deficiency can result in pathological fluid retention that then causes palpitations.
Dyspnea, obscured vision and dizziness are often experienced by a person suffering from Blood and Chi deficiency associated with arrhythmias, palpitations and insomnia. External factors like sudden fright can also result in palpitations marked by forceful and rapid heart beats that eventually and gradually go back to normal rate and rhythm.
A patient unwilling to undergo the needling process of acupuncture is given solely herbal medicines. The herbs provide a sedative effect to relax the patient. Palpitations will not arise when the patient is relaxed.
A deficiency in the Heart Blood can be given the herbal formula Gui Pi Tang to soothe the patient. This formula is ideal for a patient who has poor memory caused by anorexia, exhaustion, a pale complexion, dizziness, insomnia, palpitations or excessive mental activity as well as patients showing a light pink or pale colored tongue and a weak pulse. The herbal remedy Tian Wang Bu Xin Dan is preferred if there is deficiency in the patient’s Kidney and Heart Fire. This herbal medicine helps nourish the Blood to relax the Chi. Patients showing Kidney and Heart Fire deficiency usually suffer from a bitter taste in the mouth, tongue and mouth sores, dry throat, tinnitus, mental restlessness, dizziness, insomnia, chest pain, and tachycardia. If Kidney deficiency associated with lower back pain or uncontrolled nightly seminal emission is manifested formulas such as Liu Wei Di Huang Wan or Zhu Sha An Shen Wan is given to the patient.
For palpitations caused by Damp Heat, the tongue will exhibit symptoms like pulse that is racing and slippery and a tongue with greasy yellow coating. The phlegm heat increases causing insomnia and palpitations. Herbs such as Yuan Zhi and Suan Zao Ren with Wen Dan Tang are excellent to clam the stomach, segregate the turbid from the clear and to treat damp heat.
Certain acupuncture points are selected for acupuncture treatment of Front Mu of the Heart and Back Shu acupoints. These points along with Pericardium and Heart meridian points are prime selections for many acupuncture specialists for treating palpitations. Strengthening of Blood and Chi to calm the mind and nourish the Heart are the fundamental aims of acupuncture for palpitation therapy. Acupuncturists also apply needling procedures to sedate the mind and body, treat excess heat and deficiency and remove dampness. The acupuncture points (acupoints) usually used for standardized treatment of palpitations includes the P6, HT7, B15 and CV14 acupoints. Other added points may be needled for other conditions. Micro-acupuncture approaches like scalp acupuncture and ear (auricular) acupuncture are likewise optional procedures for treating palpitations.
Herbal remedies like Long Gu Mu Li Tang, Gui Pi Tang, Tian Wang Bu Xin Dan and An Shen Bu Xin Wan are favorite herbal treatments that acupuncturists and herbalists also usually use for palpitations. The herbal formula Wen Dan Tang is also a very effective remedy for palpitations that is usually overlooked by practitioners. Gallbladder Fire (or Gallbladder Yang) and blockage of the free flow of Chi greatly contribute to palpitations. For regulating the Stomach, removing Gallbladder Yang, transforming phlegm and regulating Chi, Wen Dan Tang can be quite effective. This herbal formula contains an assorted panoply of herbs that make the formula particularly effective in the resolution of insomnia and palpitations. Throughout the years, Wen Dan Tang has been a staple herbal remedy used by a lot herbalists and acupuncturists for treatment of a number of conditions like constant hunger, a bitter taste in the mouth, timidity, anxiety, dizziness, vomiting and nausea in addition for the treatment of insomnia and palpitations.
Christina Prieto is an Orlando acupuncturist, a certified Yoga instructor and the founder of Harmony Wellness center in central Florida.