Another February means another Valentine’s Day, with romantics all over the world flocking to the stores to find that perfect gift.  But has anybody ever wondered why?  Why do we make ourselves crazy over a holiday that is nothing more than a commercial juggernaut for the candy, flower, greeting card and jewelry industries?  One word…love.  Love makes people do crazy things.  And sometimes when we do crazy things, our heart is out of alignment.  A misaligned heart can wreak havoc over time.  This is where East Asian Medicine might be helpful.

Here’s a more in-depth breakdown of how the heart is viewed in East Asian Medicine.  In EAM, spirit, consciousness, thinking, memory and sleep are all related to the heart.  The element associated with the heart is fire, its season is summer, its sound is laughing and its emotion is joy.  The heart is also the center of perception.  All organ / meridian systems are interrelated. The heart / fire creates or is mother to the earth element of the spleen and stomach.  When the fire of the heart is not nourished, we may turn to nourishing the heart’s “child”, the spleen and stomach, in an attempt to also nourish its mother, the heart.  This imbalance may result in obesity, digestive complaints and other related health issues such as type II diabetes..  In this pattern, we can see how a disease can come from the “heart”.

In East Asian Medicine, the heart houses the Shen. The Shen is sometimes described as the spirit, but it also includes the mind. During the winter months, when the hours of sunlight are short, the weather is typically colder and very little is growing; many people develop seasonal affective disorder (SAD). So perhaps, celebrating Valentine’s Day in the middle of winter is a way to keep our hearts healthy and our Shen lively. The feeling of love can permeate every cell of the body and mind. This can bring healing to those who are experiencing SAD, while helping to keep the heart healthy.

Heart health is extremely important. Without a healthy heart, the body does not function properly. Just as equally important is the state of the mind.  Acupuncture, the main modality of EAM has been shown to help lower blood pressure, decrease the heart rate and calm the mind. There are specific acupuncture points and point prescriptions that can help the mind and the heart, which can also strengthen the mind-body connection.

Here are a few acupressure points that you can stimulate to help keep your heart and mind healthy.  Not all of them are on the heart meridian, but they help balance the energy throughout the mind and body.

  • Heart 7 – This point is located bilaterally on the underside of the wrist, at the outermost end of the wrist crease. H7 can help with heart arrhythmias, panic attacks, hypertension, insomnia, and much more. This point reduces excesses that disturb the spirit and the balance of yin/yang. This point is so powerful that acupuncturists say it’s the most calming and relaxing point in the body.
  • Ren 17 – This is a great self-help point for many reasons. Ren 17 is easy to find and matches the location for the heart chakra, at the center of the sternum, directly between the nipples.. With this point, you will find potent stress and anxiety relief, as well as an opening of the chest and calming of heart palpitations.
  • Kidney 1 – This is a great point used for grounding. Kidney 1 is located on the bottom of the foot. It’s at the junction of the anterior one third and posterior two-thirds of the line connecting the base of the second and third toes and the heel. Kidney 1 can sedate and calm the mind. It is also used for regulating blood flow to the upper part of the body and the brain.

Valentine’s Day is a wonderful time to experience joy and it doesn’t have to be from a significant other, nor does it have to cost a lot of money. Sharing special moments with those who are closest to us, friends, family, etc., helps to keep the heart full of joy. Even acts of “selfishness” can have profound effects on the mind, body and soul. Spending time alone can also keep the heart healthy, as it gives us time to reflect, relax and take in the beauty all around us.  So this Valentine’s Day, take some time to appreciate the world around you, as well as your loved ones.  And try to remember to keep your heart open to all the possibilities that life has to offer, especially love.

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