When it comes to the heart and the question of “Can Acupuncture really help with that?” the answer is a resounding yes! From angina to issues of rhythm and blood flow, there is ample research to show acupuncture helps with no documented adverse effects during study periods—even with severe heart diseases.
Acupuncture as an adjunctive therapy improves treatment outcomes and pain relief for patients with Coronary Artery Disease (CAD) related angina. We’ve seen this repeatedly in our clinic as well.
Atrial Fibrillation (Afib): 1x weekly acupuncture for 12 weeks showed improved structural remodeling of the heart in patients with afib. This was fascinating to me, as I knew regular acupuncture of 2-4x per month extended the time between problems my afib patients had by 50-70% over what they experienced before acupuncture; but to learn it helped positively remodel the structure of the heart?!?! That’s huge!
Acupuncture has consistently been shown to increase blood flow and exercise tolerance in patients with chronic heart failure. This reduces stress, helps maintain a healthy weight and immune function, and improves patient quality of life without negative side effects!!
There are some well-understood mechanisms at play here such as the ability of acupuncture to regulate the balance of the sympathetic nervous system and vagus nerve, to help increase peripheral circulation, and to improve patient well-being; but to see that acupuncture is positively changing cell-signaling and structure of the heart itself shows there is much more than just a placebo effect going on. So yes, acupuncture helps. We even have some incredible herbs available to support and enhance treatments.
The bad news: Acupuncture isn’t a miracle cure (nothing alone is!). I probably sound like a broken record to some of my patients at this point, but for all the wonderful things we can do with acupuncture, herbs, and FSM to help with heart health—the choices you make at home each day about what foods you eat (or don’t eat) and what you do for stress management are critical to successfully managing and possibly even reversing heart disease. If you are taking blood pressure meds, cholesterol meds, or diabetes medicines, you aren’t healthy—you are masking an underlying disease process that will negatively impact your quality of life (if not the quantity of it as well). All the acupuncture in the world can’t overcome bad food choices. So to encourage heart health, we are including an eating guide to help you as well as resources for more help if you need it! And while you fix your diet, let acupuncture help you along the way!
2 Kristen AV, Schuhmacher B, Strych K, Lossnitzer D, Friederich HC, Hilbel T, Haass M, Katus HA, Schneider A, Streitberger KM, Backs J. Acupuncture improves exercise tolerance of patients with heart failure: a placebo-controlled pilot study. Heart. 2010 Sep;96(17):1396-400. doi: 10.1136/hrt.2009.187930. Epub 2010 Jun 15. PMID: 20554511.
3 Middlekauff HR, Hui K, Yu JL, Hamilton MA, Fonarow GC, Moriguchi J, Maclellan WR, Hage A. Acupuncture inhibits sympathetic activation during mental stress in advanced heart failure patients. J Card Fail. 2002 Dec;8(6):399-406. doi: 10.1054/jcaf.2002.129656. PMID: 12528093