The Human Heart, Tvanbr (public domain)


Inflammation is a necessary immune response that generally follows some type of injury or infection.  In an effort to contain the problem, swelling creates stagnation.  Meanwhile the immune response sends white blood cells into the contained area to kill invaders, and thus the body begins the process of healing & repair.

Ongoing inflammation, caused by being overweight, under-active or having too high a level of blood glucose can create a different kind of uncontained inflammation, which causes a systematic slow-burn, or what we call in Chinese Medicine, Stagnation leading to Heat.

Although, the science that directly ties inflammation to cardiovascular disorders is still in its early stages, it is clear that that chronic, low-grade inflammation is closely linked to all stages of atherosclerosis (fatty build up in the arteries caused by excessive LDL, or bad cholesterol that literally clogs up the arteries).  Atherosclerosis, in turn, is a disease that underlies heart attack, stroke and peripheral artery disease.  

Treatment of heart disease is Chinese Medicine is as complicated as it is in Allopathic Medicine.  However, the general principles are the same.  The goal is to prevent (and if need be reverse) blood stagnation, promote circulation and reduce damp accumulation (which, in this case would be excess weight and/or the build-up of bad cholesterol).

In treating cardiovascular disorders, the combination of traditional and modern treatments is ideal.


& SOME clinical trial results


Studies of the effect of acupuncture on cardiovascular system demonstrated that acupuncture could diminish regional myocardial ischemia by reduction in cardiac oxygen demand and decrease pressor response (Li, Pitsillides, Rendig, Pan & Longhurst, 1998).  The further investigations indicated that acupuncture could reduce the heightened sympathetic tone through regulations on group III and IV somatic afferents and endogenous opiate system, which lowered myocardial oxygen demand (Chao et al., 1999; Zhou, Fu, Tjen-A-Looi, Li & Longhurst, 2005).  Meanwhile, other clinical trials implied that acupuncture also mediate specific opioid receptors in the rostral ventrolateral medulla (rVLM) (Li, 2001).  Recently, other brain regions have been identified to be related with acupuncture regulation on cardiovascular system, like midbrain vIPAG and arcuate nucleus (Li, Tjen-A-Looi, & Longhurst, 2006; Tjen-A-Looi, Li, & Longhurst, 2006). 

From: The International Review of Neural Biology, Volume 111