Tag Archives: Heart

Hypertension

I’ve been watching some World Cup matches lately, following the Australia and England teams through their tense encounters. While I haven’t been measuring my blood pressure, I am sure that it was elevated during the games, especially in England’s penalty shootout with Colombia. Excitement, anxiety, anger, fear, worry, shock – all of these emotions have an effect on blood pressure. It is well known that the anxiety of having your blood pressure taken by a doctor tends to elevate the reading.

Hypertension is the long-term elevation of blood pressure, a condition that poses health risks. One of its features is that it has no symptoms, so we can be in danger without even knowing it. Another complicating factor is that there is no clear agreement about what is a dangerous level of blood pressure. Broadly speaking, normal blood pressure is between 90/60 and 120/80. * Above 140/90 is considered hypertension, while anything over 180/120 is considered severe and requiring immediate attention.

Long-term hypertension causes damage to the arteries, with the risk of rupture (aneurysm). This includes possible rupture of the blood vessels of the brain, leading to stroke. The heart is also affected by hypertension with risks of coronary artery disease and possible heart failure.

It’s no wonder that doctors are quick to prescribe medications that will lower blood pressure, but these also have side effects. Ways to lower blood pressure by lifestyle changes include losing weight, lowering fats and sugars in the diet, eating more fibre, avoiding tobacco and alcohol, and exercising regularly. Reducing the stressors in your life is key, and you can help this by mindfulness practices, meditating, practising Qigong or Tai Chi. And of course, getting Acupressure treatments.

Early in my career I discovered the power of Acupressure treatments in general, and the use of Gall Bladder 21 in particular, to lower blood pressure. A client regularly monitored her BP before treatment, after treatment, and when she got home. The reading was always lower at the end of the session, but even lower still when she got home after driving on the California freeways!

Since then Gall Bladder 21 has been my favourite point for hypertension, but there are many more. A quick look at my primary references, Deadman and Jarmey, show these 26 points as indicated for hypertension:

Meridian Element Points
Lung Metal 7
Large Intestine Metal 4, 11, 15
Stomach Earth 9, 36, 40, 41
Spleen Earth 6
Small Intestine Fire 3
Kidney Water 1, 6
Heart Protector Fire 6, 8, 9
Triple Heater Fire 5
Gall Bladder Wood 20, 21, 34, 43
Liver Wood 2, 3
Governor Vessel 14, 16, 20, 26

I was interested to note that 16 of these 26 points are in the 51 Point Palette in my Level 1 Five Element Acupressure course, meaning that they are quite common points with other uses. You might also observe that two-thirds of the points are on yang meridians, and that many of the points are used for reducing yang or to descend Qi. This of course addresses the nature of the condition which is one of excess yang.

It doesn’t make sense to use all of these points. For a start, it would make for a very long session and probably too much treatment. When treating, I find it most powerful to use point combinations, a focal point with one hand, while the other hand holds several other related points in succession.

Drawing from the points list above, here are some suggestions for some point combinations that I use often in the treatment room. Most of these points link to previous articles. For the others, consult your point location book or internet search.

Note that Large Intestine 4 and Spleen 6 are forbidden during pregnancy. If you are  treating a pregnant client, omit these points.

Focal Point Related Points
Large Intestine 4 Large Intestine 11,  15;  Lung 7
Stomach 36 Stomach 40,  Spleen 6
Kidney 6 Kidney 1,  Lung 7
Triple Heater 5 Heart Protector 6,  8,  9
Gall Bladder 21 Gall Bladder 20,  34;  Stomach 36;  Large Intestine 4
Liver 3 Spleen 6,  Gall Bladder 34
Governor Vessel Small Intestine 3 + Governor Vessel 14,  16,  20

How do you choose which pattern to use? One way is to consider the person you are treating. Which Element and emotion is presenting? If the person is someone who is predominantly angry, who gets outraged at injustice, or alternatively suppresses anger, then focus on the Wood points of Gall Bladder and Liver. If the person is a caretaker, constantly putting the needs of others before self, or if obesity is a problem, then treat the Earth points of Stomach and Spleen. Or maybe the person is showing their Metal, hanging on, perfectionistic, grieving or suppressing grief, then treat the Metal points of Lung and Large Intestine. If the person’s predominant emotion is fearfulness or conspicuous absence of fear, focus on Water points of Kidney. Or if the person is over-excited and chaotic or heart-broken and joyless, focus on the Fire points of Small Intestine, Triple Heater and Heart Protector. Points of the Governor Vessel will be helpful for everyone.

It is best if you can receive treatment from someone else. That way you can relax into the treatment, focus on your breathing and generally slow down. If you are treating yourself, some of these combinations will be awkward if not impossible, in which case treat the points individually in the order suggested.

I hope this has given you some ideas on how to help reduce blood pressure in a natural way that can support a medical approach.  Good luck to your team in the World Cup and hold points during penalty shootouts!

 

* BP is expressed as a measurement with two numbers, with one number on top and one on the bottom. For example, 120/80 mm Hg. The top number refers to the amount of pressure in the arteries during the contraction of the heart muscle (systolic). The bottom number refers to the pressure between heartbeats (diastolic).

Healing Trauma

Last month I wrote about the use of Acupressure for cancer patients, linking suggested points to previous articles. It was then that I realised that Bladder 43, the outer shu point of Heart Protector, did not have an article to link to. Therefore I’m reprinting the article from my book ‘The Way of the Five Elements’. This is such an important point for any condition related to the emotional heart. And as you’ll see, its uses range far and wide. You might say it is a point for being human.

Gaohuangshu – Rich for the Vitals – Bladder 43

It is the nature of being human that we are vulnerable. We inhabit fragile bodies and have delicate feelings. We are sensitive to many external stimuli from physical objects, and from what other people do and say to us. We are influenced, even if we don’t know it, by the thoughts and feelings of others. It is this vulnerability that gives us the capacity for deep contact with others and the world. But it also means that we are easily hurt.

Babies are born totally vulnerable. It is one reason they are so adorable. But soon the child develops a protective shell to shield her from the slings and arrows of life in the human realm. When these traumas of life are outrageous, egregious, and they penetrate the shell, it is the Heart Protector which absorbs the shock so as to protect the Heart. When the insults to the Heart are great, the Heart Protector is deeply injured. Therefore healing trauma requires healing the Heart Protector.

One of the best points for working with trauma of all kinds is the outer shu point of the Heart Protector, Gaohuangshu – Rich for the Vitals which lies between the shoulder blades and behind the heart.

This point exerts a strong influence over the official of the Heart Protector, especially at emotional and psychological levels. However, the point name itself refers to the Gaohuang, a region in the chest, whose influence is much wider and deeper than that of the Heart Protector alone.

The Gaohuang or Vital Region, is an area in the chest about four body inches in diameter, lying between the centre and base of the sternum, and extending laterally to the pathways of the Kidney meridian.

When there is illness that is caused by deep heartbreak, betrayal, abuse, shame, or isolation, this vital region is deeply impacted and the effects go deep into our being. Jarrett sees this as a place where deep karmic issues and conflicts reside, and where dark family secrets live. Chronic or incurable disease is said to lodge here.

Classical texts observe that Gaohuangshu deeply nourishes and calms the Heart as well as Kidney and Spleen. The action of this point was considered so great that it was said to strengthen the original Qi and treat every kind of deficiency. Sun Si-miao, the famous 7th century physician, went so far as to say that there is no disorder it cannot treat.

Gaohuangshu is a great tonic point for the physical body, treating exhaustion and general deficiency, increasing stamina and supporting all the organs. It brings warmth and strength and increases blood circulation.

At the emotional level, the point brings warmth when a person is emotionally cold and shut down. It helps to dispel depression and mental negativity. When someone has little capacity for intimacy and humour because they are too depleted or vulnerable, this point lifts the spirit.

Location of Bladder 43

Gaohuangshu, is located between the shoulder blades, 3 cun lateral to the midline, at the level of the junction of T4 and T5 and at the medial border of the scapula. It is approximately half way down the scapula. Use firm, direct pressure. To treat yourself, lie on a tennis ball or other object that presses into the point. Arrange the pressure so you can be as relaxed as possible. Having someone you trust hold this point can be very healing.

We’ll have fun fun fun

(till her daddy takes the T-bird away)

t-bird-girl

 

In the final blogpost for 2016, we look at one of the gifts of the Fire Element. Fun!

 

Years ago I made a new friend and early on in our friendship she asked me, ‘What do you do for fun?’ I had never been asked that question before and it actually took some thought to answer it. Lately, as I’ve been thinking and writing about the Fire Element, I have been asking others the same question and they, too, have to think about it for a while. First of all we have to think about what fun means. Something amusing, pleasurable and enjoyable. Something that is entertaining, diverting or comical. But above all something that is light-hearted and brings happiness. Then we think of the ways we seek to bring this sense of fun into our life.

In our fast-paced modern world, we can sometimes get very serious about taking care of the many strands of life and forget to have fun. The Heart needs to be tended and one of the ways to do that is to engage in activities that bring pleasure, amusement, laughter and light-heartedness.

Five Element acupuncturist Neil Gumenick offers this advice:

Have fun on a regular basis, even if you have to work at it at first. Make it a priority – schedule your fun, if that’s what it takes. Don’t compromise. Consider fun as important to your well-being as work or anything else you do.

Summer is a great time to work on your fun. For one thing there is just so much fun stuff happening in the summer, from parties and barbecues to fairs and festivals everywhere you look. Haven’t you noticed how many events there are on the same weekend in summer? The energy of the Fire Element simply suffuses summer. It calls forth and supports anything that sustains and heals the heart.

Here’s a suggestion: find one thing that you’ve always wanted to do for fun but never got around to and find time to do that this summer. Your heart will thank you.

skydiving