Thursday, February 25, 2021

Nutrition for Heart Health

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) nutrition combines ancient wisdom with modern science. TCM nutrition is a holistic approach, which aims to balance all five flavors within most meals with one or two flavors being emphasized for therapeutic purposes. TCM nutrition for hypertension emphasizes bitter flavors, sour flavors, and energetically-cooling foods.


TCM theory states the bitter flavor benefits the heart in moderation but an excess is harmful as it has a drying effect; for example, coffee is bitter. In moderation, coffee acts as a vasodilator increasing circulation but in excess, it can raise blood pressure and has a diuretic effect. Modern scientific research has discovered while the human genome has 25 bitter taste receptors 12 of these are expressed in the human heart.


Foods with bitter flavors include romaine lettuce, dandelion, arugula, rye. Foods that combine bitter with pungency include citrus peel, radish, scallion, and white pepper. In TCM nutrition the pungent flavor can help disperse phlegm (e.g. plaque). Foods that combine bitter with sweet include asparagus, celery, tomatoes, lettuce, quinoa, and papaya. Lemon rind is bitter and sour; vinegar is also bitter and sour.


Bitter flavors have a yin, or cooling effect, clearing heat in the body while encouraging a descent of Qi, which aids in the draining of fluids. For example, celery contains the phytochemical phthalides which relax arterial wall tissues to increase blood flow and thereby reduce blood pressure. The fiber, magnesium, and potassium in celery also help lower blood pressure and regulate fluid balance. Caution: according to TCM, those with a lot of dryness and/or bone disease should moderate their intake of bitter flavor.


A tomato a day keeps the doctor away! The combination of lycopene, vitamin C and E, potassium, and folic acid in tomatoes make it a powerful food for heart health. The bitter flavor of tomatoes comes from the seeds; to reap the full benefit of tomatoes eat the seeds too. Heirloom tomatoes in the season have the most flavor, find the tastiest tomatoes at your farmer’s market or try growing your own.


Chrysanthemum tea is very popular in Asia; it is helpful for headaches, dizziness, high blood pressure, chest pain, and also fevers. You can add chrysanthemum flowers to your morning green tea and in the evening combine it with chamomile tea for extra cooling benefits!


TCM nutrition cautions against overdoing cold foods and drinks. Too much cold inhibits the digestive process. Drinking warm beverages and soups, as well as eating foods with a little pungency (chili pepper, garlic, ginger) causes the body to perspire slightly which naturally cools the body.




5 Flavors Chickpea Salad for Healthy & Happy Heart


15 oz cooked organic chickpeas (1 can)

1/2 c cup cooked quinoa or 1 cup brown rice (warm)

4 stalks celery, minced

6-12 cherry tomatoes, chopped in 1/2 or 1/4

8-12 Romaine lettuce leaves, chopped

2 TBSP red onion, minced


Toss with a dressing made with:

2 TBSP olive oil

1 TBSP lemon juice + a little lemon zest (organic is best)

1 tsp grated ginger

1/2 tsp honey or agave

1-2 garlic cloves (minced or pressed)

1/8 tsp Himalayan or Sea salt (or to taste)

fresh ground black pepper (to taste)


Dr. Bishara Wilson, DACM




Foster, S. R., Blank, K., Hoe, L. E. S., Behrens, M., Meyerhof, W., Peart, J. N., & Thomas, W. G. (2014). Bitter taste receptor agonists elicit G-protein-dependent negative inotropy in the murine heart. The FASEB Journal, 28(10), 4497-4508.


Kastner, Joseph, MD, L.Ac, (2009) Chinese Nutrition Therapy, Thieme, Stuttgart and New York


Pitchford, Paul (2002), Healing with Whole Foods: Asian Traditions and Modern Nutrition, North Atlantic Books, Berkeley, California


Ried, K., Frank, O. R., Stocks, N. P., Fakler, P., & Sullivan, T. (2008). Effect of garlic on blood pressure: a systematic review and meta-analysis. BMC cardiovascular disorders, 8(1), 1.


Willcox, J. K., Catignani, G. L., & Lazarus, S. (2003). Tomatoes and Cardiovascular Health. Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition, 43(1), 1-18.



Monday, February 22, 2021

Eating with Your Heart in Mind


Acupuncturists understand the body as a complex system of energy systems, meridians, and organs. However, when an acupuncturist talks about an organ, like the spleen, heart, or kidneys, they are not referring to the physical organ that sits inside your body, but rather the energetic side of these organs. The energetic system is much bigger than just the physical organ and governs certain functions in the body on many levels.


In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) it is massively important to care for your heart. Why? Well for starters, the heart governs the ability to think clearly, sleep soundly, and maintain a good memory. Our emotional state is strongly influenced by how healthy or unhealthy our heart may be. A weak and deficient heart may create feelings of anxiety and mania, while also contributing to insomnia, forgetfulness, and lack of concentration. The heart is known as the “king of all organs”. Meaning, other organs will sacrifice all to keep the heart in motion; this involves giving away their energy and nutrient supply (commonly referred to as Qi).


When it comes to your heart, what you eat matters. Follow these tips for heart-healthy eating:

1.     Eat less saturated fats. Look for lean meats, like seafood, poultry, and cut back on fatty red meats and high-fat dairy products. Limit foods like pizza, burgers, and creamy sauces or gravy. Look for products with no trans fats and choose foods with unsaturated fats like salmon, nuts, seeds, avocados, and oils.

2.     Cut down on sodium (salt). Read the Nutrition Facts label and choose foods that are lower in sodium. Look for the low-sodium or “no salt added” types of canned soups, vegetables, packaged meals, snack foods, and lunch meats.

3.     Get more fiber. Eat vegetables, fruits, and whole grains to add fiber to your diet. Fiber is a carbohydrate that your body cannot break down, so it passes through the body undigested. Fiber can help prevent heart disease from its ability to lower both blood pressure and cholesterol.

4.     Cut back on sweeteners. Consuming too much added sugar can raise blood pressure and increase chronic inflammation, both of which are pathological pathways to heart disease. When choosing a sweetener, look for natural options like honey, dates, maple syrup, molasses, or agave nectar.


Without a healthy heart, the body cannot function properly and the mind may be clouded and disconnected. Contact me for a consultation to see how acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine can assist you with all of your heart health needs.

Dr. Bishara Wilson, DACM

Thursday, February 18, 2021

The Human Heart; an Element of Fire


The organs in Chinese medicine are more than just a physical representation. The organs include not only their physiological function but also their mental, emotional, spiritual, and elemental qualities that align with nature and the seasons. Let’s explore the heart and unique perspective Traditional Chinese Medicine can offer.


The heart season is summer, and the heart is considered the most yang: hot, bountiful, and abundant. Yang is what is bright, moving, outward, hot, and loud. Yin is what is more inward, still, dark, and cooler. 

The color of the heart is associated with red, the climate is heat, the flavor is bitter and its paired organ is the small intestine (many urinary issues are due to “heart fire” heat descending). 

The sense aligned with the heart is the tongue, and the vessels associated with the heart are the tissues. The heart sound is laughing, and the emotion is joy. The heart houses what is known as the shen, which is the mind and spirit. You can see a person’s shen in a healthy complexion and radiant eyes that are clear and bright. 

The heart is in charge of circulation and keeps the tissues well nourished. It is also associated with mental clarity, memory, and strength. The motion of this fire element is upward, like a flame. 

Many who have this element dominant in their personality have red hair that is curly or spikes upward. The heart is also connected to speech. An imbalance in heart energy can result in stuttering, speaking excitedly, or talking excessively.


A balanced heart:

A healthy heart energy exudes a sense of joy, enthusiasm, action, warmth, charisma, and fun. These people are the “life of the party,” and love to have a good time with friends and to be the center of attention. When the heart is balanced, sleep is sound and one is well-rested.


An unbalanced heart:

On the other hand, when there is an overabundance of fire this can result in restlessness, anxiety, sweating, excitability, and symptoms such as palpitations, irregular heartbeat, insomnia, disturbing dreams, mouth sores, thirst, red face, constipation, and dryness. 

This person might shrink if not in the limelight and would constantly seek attention and need activities that produce a lot of excitement. He or she might have trouble being introspective and could not be alone. “Overjoy” is an imbalance of heart energy and is likened to manic behavior. 

A dominant fire may also be extremely sensitive to heat. A lack of the fire element, on the other hand, can result in a lusterless complexion, low energy, inertia, depression, feeling cold, low libido and the personality may lack warmth. This type may seem cold, frigid, lack drive, and may be prone to addictions.


How to help your heart stay in balance?

Studies show red foods have been shown to help the heart biochemically; foods such as hawthorn berries, strawberries, cherries, raspberries, tomatoes, watermelon, peppers, and goji berries keep your heart happy with lycopene and anthocyanin, antioxidants, and beneficial vitamins. Other helpful foods include garlic, cayenne, cilantro, basil, magnesium (found in leafy greens, nuts, and soy), and green tea. Also try ginseng, jujube dates, reishi mushrooms, dong quai, seaweed, and schizandra berries. Calming activities such as walking, tai qi, or qi gong help calm the shen.


It is best not to self-diagnose, make sure to seek the guidance of a medical professional to confirm these foods are right for you. You don't want to assume you have too much of one element and end up eating the wrong foods. A thorough diagnostic evaluation is the best way to get a proper diagnosis. 

As far as the Five Element theory goes I’d be happy to see which element is dominant in you, and together we can treat your condition with acupuncture, herbs and offer advice for beneficial diet and lifestyle adaptations. 

If you are looking for heart health remedies, give me a call today.

Dr. Bishara Wilson, DACM

Sunday, February 14, 2021

Celebrate Valentine's Day with a Healthy Heart



In the spirit of Valentine’s day, let’s talk about heart health. Did you know, the heart will beat over 100,000 times pumping roughly 2,000 gallons of blood each day! Heart health is massively important to one’s overall well-being. When the heart is strong, circulation will be sufficient, the body will be well-nourished, and the pulse will reflect that by being full and regular. Traditional Chinese Medicine (or TCM), just like Western medicine, believes the heart is responsible for the circulation of blood. Both medical systems agree that a weak heart can manifest in palpitations, chest pain, heart disease, or lead to a heart attack. Where the two medical systems differ is this: a TCM practitioner acknowledges and uses many other qualitative diagnostic reasoning tools and unique non-invasive therapies right there in the office to ideally prevent but also treat chronic systemic imbalances, including cardiac irregularities.


What does this mean? When you go to see a TCM doctor they will look to your body for clues, but more often than not they don’t need to refer you for more exams and tests. For example, they have the ability to read your pulse evaluating things like “quality of expansion” and “duration of cycle” not simply the rate and pressure. A pulse reading in TCM is one of many diagnostic tools that take practitioners years of intensive training to perfect. This is why it is so important to seek advice from only medically trained professionals, such as myself and my colleagues. Your body is asking to find wellness, it just takes a trained ear to listen.


A TCM Perspective on the Heart:


In TCM, the heart is the “king of all organs”. Other organs will sacrifice all to keep the heart in motion; this involves giving away their energy and nutrient supply (commonly referred to as Qi). The heart governs the ability to think clearly, sleep soundly, and maintain a good memory. Our emotional state is strongly influenced by how healthy or unhealthy our heart may be. A weak and deficient heart may create feelings of anxiety and mania, while also contributing to insomnia, forgetfulness, and lack of concentration.


Heart health can be reflected in facial complexion. A rosy complexion indicates a strong healthy heart, while a pale or sallow complexion is indicative of a deficient, weak heart. If the heart blood becomes stagnant, the complexion may have a purplish tint.


Acupuncture and TCM have been managing heart health for centuries. Regular acupuncture treatments are very helpful in lowering blood pressure. The needles stimulate the release of opioids, which then decrease the heart’s activity and its need for oxygen. This will help the body lower blood pressure, increase oxygenated blood flow, and regulate the heart’s rhythm.


Stress is another factor that can greatly affect the health of the heart. Unmanaged, chronic stress can lead to heart disease, high blood pressure, heart arrhythmias, and even heart attacks. Numerous studies have shown stress can be easily managed through the use of acupuncture. TCM offers more than just acupuncture to treat stress though. Herbal formulas and exercises like tai chi and qi gong are all wonderful tools for managing stress and keeping the heart-healthy.


When the heart is balanced and healthy, it results in an easy transition into sleep. If you have insomnia, the heart is often treated. Difficulty falling asleep, nightmares, and sleep terrors can result when this organ is unhappy. If you are the type of person who lies in bed forever, unable to fall asleep because your mind is racing, acupuncture can help to settle the heart energy and give you a great night’s sleep. Yet again, TCM can help treat a wide array of sleep problems without the harsh side effects of many pharmaceuticals. If you are ready to start your journey to wellness, don’t wait, give us a call today. Space is Limited.

Dr. Bishara Wilson

For Herbal Fornulas to support the heart and blood go to

Friday, February 12, 2021

Celebrating the Chinese New Year

The Lunar New Year celebration is a festival unlike any other. Also known as the Chinese New Year and Spring Festival, this celebration does not hold a specific date, rather it is based on the lunar calendar. The 12th lunar month marks the end of the previous year, with the capstone Lantern Festival landing in late January to mid-February.

Similar to Christmas in the United States, part of the Chinese New Year celebration promotes retail consumption and mass domestic tourism. It is estimated that this vast festival brings in the equivalent of nearly 80 billion US dollars. The travel surrounding the holiday is considered to be the largest annual human migration in the whole world, with nearly 3 billion people travel around the country, most returning to their hometowns.

The lunar new year celebrations happen in phases.

February 4th-11th: Little Year

The first phase, lasting for 8 days, is called the Little Year. This is the time of preparation - cleaning, sweeping, and overall out with the old and fresh start mentality. In traditional and contemporary Chinese culture the color red represents happiness and prosperity. Red is considered to be a lucky color. The belief is that by surrounding yourself and your home with elaborate red decorations good luck will follow you into the new year.

February 11th: New Year’s Eve

New Year’s eve is aligned with the new moon. Families come together for a reunion dinner, many traveling long distances to return home. This dinner consists of traditional symbolically lucky meals, and of course Chinese dumpings. From 8:00 pm-12:30 am TV sets in family rooms will be set to CCTV’s New Year Gala for a 4.5-hour live presentation of games, songs, dances, martial art exhibitions, sketches, music, acrobatics, drama, and more.

February 12th-26th: Spring & Lantern Festival

Following the previous night’s new years eve celebrations, this marks the beginning of the Spring Festival. Fireworks are loud and often set off on the ground in an effort to fend off evil spirits. Respect is paid to ancestors in the form of shrines and offerings. Both kids and unmarried adults receive money in lavish red envelopes from parents, grandparents, aunts, and uncles. The first full moon marks the last day of the Spring Festival. On that last day, this year February 26th, is traditionally China’s most important festival: the Lantern Festival. These celebrations welcome Spring and symbolize the reunification of the family bond. The daytime is filled with folk dancing in the streets, food vendors selling tangyuan (ball-shaped sticky rice dumplings), music, art exhibitions, riddles, and more. As evening falls onlookers enjoy watching extravagantly crafted lanterns float into the night sky under the first full moon of the year.

One of the most phenomenal things about this holiday is the vast number of people and cultures coming together in the same traditions to welcome the new lunar year. It is estimated that 20% of the world’s population take part in celebrating this Spring Festival. This group of people is far from only Chinese citizens, large populations in Singapore, Malaysia, Korea, Vietnam, and Tibet have also traditionally taken part in this holiday. There are many small variations of this celebration, however, the underlying traditions remain the same. It’s easy to imagine that with modern technology, and the advent of social media, this colorful new year’s celebration will be around for many more thousands of years to come.

Dr. Bishara Wilson, DACM

Thursday, February 4, 2021

TCM + Caring for your Heart Health


Every February romantics all over the world flock to the local flower shops and jewelry stores in search of the perfect bouquet or piece of jewelry to express their undying love. Why?  Nobody knows for certain,  like many contemporary holidays, Valentine’s Day probably has pagan roots. The celebration of Lupercalia, celebrated at the ides of February, was a fertility festival dedicated to Faunus.  

Faunus was the Roman god of agriculture. So it can be derived that from a fertility festival, this was later watered down by the Church and turned into a festival of love. By the 1800s it had become common for friends and lovers to exchange gifts as tokens of affection. Shortly after that, the holiday became commercialized, celebrated with the retail consumption of heart-shaped candy and trinkets.


Despite its controversial roots, and mass commercial appeal, in recent years Valentine’s day has become trending more toward  “self-love” and emotional wellness - which is SUCH a powerful subject we simply MUST discuss. So, today let’s talk about self-love, heart health, and how Traditional Chinese Medicine can help.


In Traditional Chinese Medicine (or TCM) 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 something known as Seasonal Affective Disorder or SAD. So perhaps, celebrating Valentine’s Day in the middle of winter is a way to keep our hearts healthy and our Shen lively, similar to the timing and benefits of the Chinese New Year celebrations. The feeling of love and community can permeate every cell of the body and mind. This feeling of emotional relief can bring healing to those who are experiencing SAD (or similar seasonal conditions) while helping to nourish the heart.


The heart is the center of perception and associated with feelings of joy.  Valentine’s Day is a wonderful time to experience joy, and it doesn’t have to be from a romantic partner.  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. It is said that taking time to reflect while spending time alone can also help keep a healthy heart. If you are someone who enjoys being outside, now is a GREAT time to get out and appreciate the natural beauty around you.


Heart health is extremely important. Recent studies show general practitioners are prescribing exercise, nutrition, and stress reduction therapies as a primary means to prevent heart disease. In order to lower the prevalence of heart disease on a national scale, we can expect to see more regular implementation of these natural (and effective) holistic approaches to wellness.


Acupuncture, the main modality of TCM has been shown to help lower blood pressure, decrease heart rate and calm the mind. There are specific acupuncture points and point prescriptions that can help the mind and the heart, which can strengthen the mind-body connection.


This year, when Valentine’s Day rolls around, don’t fret over trying to find the perfect card or gift.  Instead, try focusing attention on the people, places, and things that bring joy and love to your life.




CV 17: Dan Zhong This is a great self-help point for many reasons. Conception Vessel 17 is easy to find, and matches the location for the heart chakra, at the center of the sternum. With this point, you will find potent stress and anxiety relief, as well as an opening of the chest and calming of heart palpitations.


HT 7: Shen Men 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 TCM practitioners often praise Shen Men as being the most calming and relaxing point in the body, while conveniently being highly accessible.


PC 6: Nei Guan You can find this point on the inside of the wrist, 2 finger-widths up from the wrist crease, in between the two prominent tendons of the inner arm. Modern studies (linked here) have extensively evaluated the benefits of this point. It is becoming increasingly clear that acupuncture, specifically PC6, can effectively treat both the symptoms and underlying causes of cardiovascular disorders.



KD 1: Yong Quan This is a great point used for grounding. Kidney 1 is located on the bottom of the foot, 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, while also regulating blood flow to the upper part of the body, aka the brain.

Contact me today for more information on the specific acupuncture (or acupressure) points for heart health.


Give me a call for more information on how acupuncture and TCM can help your heart today.

Dr. Bishara Wilson, DACM


Monday, February 1, 2021

Research Update: Ear Acupuncture for Acute Sore Throat

In a 2015 study published by the Journal of the American Board of Family Medicine, researchers found auricular acupuncture treatments provided extended pain relief and people needed fewer dosages of pain medications. According to the study, a specific type of acupuncture, known as Battlefield Acupuncture (BFA) was used to treat 56 patients who were afflicted with an acute onset of a sore throat.  All the participants were monitored for pain levels and dosages of medications taken at the 15-minute mark, six-hour mark, 24-hour mark, and 48-hour mark. In both areas, the group of participants who received Battlefield Acupuncture reported decreased pain levels and less need for pain medications.  This study concludes Battlefield Acupuncture is associated with reduced levels of pain for up to 24 hours and decreased dosages of pain medication for up to 48 hours.


A sore throat can be more than just an annoyance. It can be painful and costly when missing work becomes a necessity. Unfortunately, in the United States, many people cannot afford to take time off work for illness because they don’t get any paid leave. This can exacerbate the issue and sometimes make it even more severe, turning it into something like strep throat, which can lead to severe health complications.


The typical treatment for a sore throat is non-steroidal anti-inflammatories like ibuprofen and possibly antibiotics when deemed appropriate. But Traditional Chinese Medicine treats a sore throat differently.  In TCM  there are two common causes of an acute sore throat, an attack by wind-heat or an attack by wind-dryness. There may be others also, but these are the two most common. This is how TCM differentiates the causes of the affliction. TCM theory states there are certain elements that can attack the body and create illness. Because a sore throat is almost always accompanied by some form of inflammation, there is usually heat generated.


A wind-heat invasion occurs when the Wei Qi (pronounced “way chee”) is weaker than the invading force or pathogen. The Wei Qi is thought to be the defense that protects our bodies from outside forces.  Think of Wei Qi as our immune system. When the Wei Qi is depleted or decreased, pathogens can break through and take root. With a wind-heat attack, there may be fever, chills, sweating, headaches, body aches, a cough, and a sore throat. A wind-dryness invasion is very similar to a wind-heat invasion, but there are more predominant signs of dryness, such as dry nose, mouth, throat, and cough.  Regardless, the way to tackle either attack is by clearing heat and boosting the Wei Qi. This can be done fairly quickly through the use of acupuncture and herbs.


Acupuncture and in particular, Battlefield Acupuncture can bring quick relief to those suffering from a sore throat. Battlefield Acupuncture involves placing needles at specific points in the ear. When these points are stimulated, they help to balance the flow of the body’s energy. In Chinese Medicine, the ear is a microsystem of the entire body, holding more than 200 acupressure points that help to enhance physical and mental healing. But how exactly do they work? Studies show using these points can inhibit certain neurotransmitters and inflammatory markers, as well as release endogenous opioids that fight off pain.


As with any type of illness, the sooner somebody receives treatment, the sooner you can start feeling better. The same goes with an acute sore throat. If you feel a sore throat coming on, come see me for an acupuncture “tune-up”. You might just be surprised at the results.


Dr. Bishara Wilson, DACM