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Heather Hanks
Written by Heather Hanks

Reviewed by Physician Chu I Ta and Dr Eki Wari on January 3, 2023

Best Natural Remedies To Help You Recover From Heart Valve Disease

Did you know that TCM can help promote healthy blood flow in the body? Here's how to best support your health if you have been diagnosed with heart valve disease.

Heart valve disease min scaled

Are you one of the more than five million Americans diagnosed with heart valve disease this year? The condition occurs when there is damage in one or more of the heart valves, putting strain on the heart and disrupting blood flow throughout the body.

However, in both mild and severe cases, there may not be symptoms. When left untreated, the condition may lead to infections, arrhythmia, high blood pressure in the lungs, infections, or cardiac arrest.

Many treatment options are available. In some cases, surgery may be necessary. Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) can help you recover and maintain cardiovascular health after a heart valve disease diagnosis. Here’s how.

What Is Heart Valve Disease?

There are four primary heart valves: tricuspid, pulmonary, mitral, and aortic. Heart valve disease occurs when there is damage in one or more of these valves.

Damage may occur where there is regurgitation or leakage of the valve. This happens when the heart valves do not close completely, causing blood to flow back to the heart.

It can also happen when there is stenosis or narrowing of the valve. This is when the valve becomes narrow, limiting the blood flow out of the atria or ventricles.

Importance of blood flow, according to TCM

An older woman sitting at a table with her computer drinking coffee and looking frustrated or forgetful
Improper blood flow may lead to things like a lack of concentration or forgetfulness.

In TCM, Blood is far from a physical vital substance in the body that supports life, but in the philosophy of holistic, balanced, and harmonious approach, it has a broader meaning to modern physiology concepts. 

According to TCM Physician Chu I Ta, “Blood has the functions of nourishing and moistening the body, transporting the qi for excretion and fuelling mental activities and sleep. Our mental activities require sufficient blood to carry out normal functions. If a person is deficient in blood, he may suffer from insomnia, poor concentration, and forgetfulness, as blood is adequate for nourishing his mind for mental work as well as sound sleep.” 

In TCM, the relationship between Blood and qi is inseparable. According to a famous quote, “Qi is the marshal of the Blood and Blood is the mother of qi.”

“Qi is the marshal of the blood because qi promotes blood flow. Without qi as the driving force, the flow of blood is stagnant, and it cannot be transported to all parts of the body. Qi also participates in the production of blood, and also helps to keep blood within the blood vessels, preventing it from leaking out. Therefore, a person diagnosed with Qi Deficiency may also be vulnerable to bleeding.”

Physician Chu.

How do other organs affect blood flow?

“Apart from understanding that blood flow is propelled by the “qi of the Heart,” other internal organs also play a vital role in the function and movement of the blood. The Lungs are thought to be connected to all vessels of the body. It’s mainly in charge of qi circulation, but it also accumulates qi and Blood from the whole body to assist the heart in propelling blood movement,” stated Physician Chu.

“The Spleen is said to command the Blood, preventing flowing out of the blood vessels. The Liver stores Blood and regulates its volume, smoothing the role of qi to promote blood circulation. The kidneys in TCM stores the essence, which is a vital substance for the production of Blood. Blood circulation can be disturbed by changes in the body’s internal environment expressed as Heat, Phlegm, Dampness, and Blood Stasis,” Physician Chu further explained.

What Causes Heart Valve Disease?

In TCM disease classification, most cardiovascular diseases can be classified under the term “cardiac pain.”

In Western medicine, cardiac pain may refer to angina pectoris of coronary artery disease, myocardial infarction of coronary artery disease, myocardiopathy, viral myocarditis, pleuritis, and cardiac neurosis.

According to Physician Chu, the following syndromes may lead to heart valve disease:

Internal attack of pathogenic cold

Congenital Yang Deficiency, chest-yang insufficiency, and attack of pathogenic Yin-Cold may cause cold retention and Qi Stagnation. This leads to the obstruction of chest yang and blockage of the flow of qi as well as contracture or obstruction of the heart vessel. 

Improper diet

An image of unhealthy foods, such as fast food, cheeseburgers, French fries, onion rings, pizza, ketchup and soda
Overconsumption of fried, fatty foods can lead to heart health complications.

Overeating fatty, sweet food, and greasy food or alcohol addiction may damage the function of Spleen and stomach in transportation and transformation.

This leads to internal Phlegm-turbidity, which obstructs the heart vessel and qi flow and results in the contracture or obstruction of the heart vessel. 

Emotional damage

Extensive worrying may damage the Spleen and cause Spleen qi stagnation and generation of Phlegm Dampness. Depressed anger may damage the Liver and affect its function of regulating the flow of qi, leading to Liver Qi Stagnation.

This later transforms into Fire and produces phlegm by scorching the body fluid. Thus, the mixed Qi Stagnation and phlegm may block blood circulation and result in contracture or obstruction of the heart vessel. 

Imbalances in the organ systems

Kidney qi tends to decline with the aging process. Kidney Yang Deficiency may fail to invigorate yang qi of the five zang organs and lead to a Deficiency of Heart qi or Heart yang.

Meanwhile, Kidney Yin Deficiency may fail to nourish the yin of the five zang organs and lead to Liver Yin Deficiency and internal consumption of Heart yin.

This results in phlegm retention, Qi Stagnation, Blood Stasis, and cold retention. Eventually, this obstructs the chest yang and qi flow and leads to the contracture or obstruction of the heart vessel. 

“The above etiology factors can occur alone or in combination. Cardiac pain is mainly located in the Heart and is closely related to the Liver, Spleen, and Kidney. It can be caused by the deficiency of qi, Blood, yin, and yang. However, it may also be present in excessive syndromes, such as Phlegm turbidity, Blood Stasis, Qi Stagnation, and cold retention. The key pathogenesis is the contracture or obstruction of the heart vessel.”

Physician Chu.

How Can TCM Help Manage Heart Valve Disease?

Lingzhi mushroom and lingzhi supplement pictured in a wooden spoon next to a green leaf
Lingzhi mushroom contains cardioprotective properties that may help reduce the risk of heart disease.

TCM remedies, such as herbal formulas and acupressure, can help manage symptoms of heart valve disease.

Research shows that the medicinal mushroom Lingzhi contains cardiovascular protective properties that may help reduce the risk of heart valve disease. It has been shown to reduce blood glucose levels, blood pressure, and lipid profile.

Taking herbal supplements that reduce your risk of high blood pressure and high cholesterol can also help. Other treatment options are based on the differentiation of syndromes: 

Heart Blood obstruction

Symptoms: Stabbing pain in the chest with a fixed position, the pain becomes worse at night, intermittent palpitations and uneasiness, and a dark purple tongue.

Treatment principle: To circulate the Blood, resolve Stasis, clear meridians, and ease pain. 

TCM Formula: Xue Fu Zhu Yu Tang

Internal obstruction of Phlegm-turbid

Symptoms: Chest stuffiness and oppressive pain, the pain may radiate to the shoulder and back, shortness of breath, fatigue, a heavy sensation in the limbs, profuse sputum, and a pale tongue.

Treatment principle: To clear yang, remove turbidity, and resolve phlegm. 

TCM Formula: Kuo Lou Xie Bai Ban Xia Tang

Heart valve disease due to Yin Cold retention

Symptoms: Chest pain radiating to the back, the pain becomes worse with cold, chest stuffiness, shortness of breath, palpitation, or even dyspnea with an inability to lay flat, a pale complexion, cold limbs, and a white tongue coating.

Treatment principle: To warm and clear yang, unblock the obstruction and dissipate cold. 

TCM Formula: Kuo Lou Xie Bai Bai Jiu Tang 

Yin Deficiency of the Heart and Kidney

Symptoms: Chest stuffiness and pain, palpitations, night sweats, restlessness, insomnia, soreness and weakness in the lumbar area and knee joints, tinnitus, dizziness, and a dark-red tongue or a tongue with ecchymosis and a scanty coating. 

Treatment principle: To nourish Kidney yin, benefit the Heart and calm the mind. 

TCM Formula: Zuo Gui Wan

Deficiency of qi and yin

Symptoms: Chest stuffiness and intermittent dull pain, palpitations, shortness of breath, lethargy, a lusterless complexion, dizziness, blurred vision, the symptoms aggravated after fatigue, and a red and tender tongue with teeth marks and a scanty coating.

Treatment principle: To supplement qi, nourish yin, circulate the Blood, and clear the collaterals. 

TCM Formula: Sheng Mai San and Ren Shen Yang Ying Tang

Yang Deficiency of the Heart and Kidney

Symptoms: Chest stuffiness and pain, shortness of breath, or even chest pain radiating to the back, palpitations, spontaneous sweating, cold intolerance, cold limbs, lumbar soreness, fatigue, a pale complexion, pale or bluish-purple lips and fingernails, and a dark purple tongue.

Treatment principle: To supplement qi, warm yang, circulate the Blood, and clear the collaterals. 

TCM Formula: Shen Fu Tang and You Gui Yin

Acupressure Can Support Heart Valve Disease Recovery

Acupressure can help promote blood flow, reduce anxiety, and help support your recovery process after a heart valve disease diagnosis. To perform, use your fingers to press, hold, and massage certain acupoints on the body for several seconds before releasing. Perform again as needed.

Physician Chu recommends focusing on the following acupoints for heart health:

  • Nei Guan (PC6)
  • Xin Shu (BL15)
  • Ju Que (CV14)
  • Dan Zhong (CV17)
  • Xi Men (PC4)

Remember to always consult your doctor or a registered TCM physician if you have questions about any of the above-mentioned remedies. Never try to self-medicate.

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