Chinese Medicine and Ayurvedic Medicines for Congestive Heart Failure
Rejuvenate qi. Practitioners of Chinese medicine believe that heart failure results from chronic fatigue of qi. "As qi weakens, the heart pumps less efficiently, blood doesn't move as it should, and fluids accumulate around the body," explains Efrem Korngold, O.M.D., L.Ac. In the Chinese view, fluids are Moisture, and they're regulated by the Kidneys. To treat CHF, he prescribes herbal formulas that usually contain herbs such as ginseng root, astragalus root, salvia root, angelica root, cinnamon bark, and licorice root.
Aid your heart with acupressure. People with CHF can also benefit from professional acupuncture treatment, Dr. KornÂgold says. If you prefer a self-care alternative, consider acupressure. Apply steady, penetrating finger pressure to each of the following points for 3 minutes.
Pericardium 6, located in the middle of your inner wrist, 2 1/2 finger-widths above the wrist crease
Heart 7, located on the pinkie side of the wrist crease that's closest to your palm . Kidney 7, located on your inner leg, two thumb-widths above your anklebone
Stomach 36, located four finger-widths below your kneecap and one finger Âwidth toward the outside of your shinÂbone
Ask about arjuna. Among Ayurvedic practitioners, arjuna bark is the herb of choice for treating heart failure. Research has shown that it significantly improves heart functions. If you'd like to try arjuna bark, consult an Ayurvedic practitioner for a prescription and dosage information.
For 200 years, the drugs digitalis and digoxin-both derived from the herb foxglove-were the first-line mainstream medical treatments for CHF. But then reports that these drugs might cause heart rhythm disturbances, or arrhythmias, began cropping up.
Today, digoxin is still prescribed for CHF, but it is no longer a first-line treatment. Most doctors now prescribe either diuretics, which help eliminate fluid, or vasodilators, which lower blood pressure and allow blood to circulate more easily. If your doctor recommends a diuretic or vasodilator, be sure to ask about potential side effects. Take the pills on the prescribed schedule. And if you notice any side effects, discuss them with your doctor.
Your doctor might also prescribe lowÂdose aspirin. In a study conducted at Tufts University School of Medicine in Boston, researchers spent 5 years tracking the health status of 6,800 people with CHF. Some of the people took aspirin, while others did not. In the course of the study, 41 percent of the non-aspirin takers were hospitalized or died because of CHF. Among the aspirin takers, that figure was just 26 percent.
Another option in CHF treatment is enrollment in a cardiac rehabilitation program. These programs are usually recommended for people who have had heart attacks and for people with angina.
For more information about cardiac rehabilitation programs, talk to your doctor.