Cardiomyopathy and Congestive Heart Failure

TCM Food Therapy

Cardiomyopathy and Congestive Heart Failure

by Helen Hu, OMD

Dilated (congestive) cardiomyopathy is a group of heart muscle disorders in which the ventricles enlarge but are not able to pump enough blood for the body’s needs, resulting in heart failure. In North America, the most common identifiable cause of dilated cardiomyopathy is extensive coronary artery disease.  Coxsackie B virus infection and other causes include certain chronic hormonal disorders such as long-standing, poorly controlled diabetes, morbid obesity, a persistently rapid heart rate, or thyroid disease. Dilated cardiomyopathy can also be caused by use of certain substances, especially alcohol, cocaine, antidepressants, and a few chemotherapy drugs. Rare causes of dilated cardiomyopathy include pregnancy and connective tissue disorders such as rheumatoid arthritis. As in coronary artery disease, the weakened heart stretches in an attempt to compensate, resulting in dilated cardiomyopathy and often heart failure.  About 70% of people die within 5 years of the first onset of their symptoms. If possible, doctors treat the underlying cause. General treatment measures include avoiding stress, limiting salt in the diet, and having periods of rest, which help reduce strain on the heart, particularly when the cardiomyopathy is acute or severe.

In TCM, cardiomyopathy can be classified into different categories such as, heart Qi deficiency, and heart blood deficiency. Since the spleen and kidney organs normally support and balance with the heart, some cases of cardiomyopathy will be related to the spleen and kidneys.

1. Heart Qi deficiency type:

The principle treatment for this type is to strengthen the bodie’s energy and to calm the spirit:  with this type of pattern, patient tends to have frequent shortness of breath, heart palpitations, pressure feeling on the chest with spontaneous sweating. Feelings of fatigue most of the time, feeling sleepy, not motivated to participate and some are not even willing to talk due to lack of vitality.

a. Wild Yam and Beef Soup

Organic beef: 250g cut into small pieces
Wild Chinese yam (山药 Dioscorea opposita): 120g cut into pieces

Cooking instruction: Boil the two ingredients in 16oz of water (472ml).

Intake: Drink it slowly as and warm tea, once a day.

b. American Ginseng and Date  Congee

American Ginseng: 10 g (cut into thin slices)
Chinese red date:  5 pieces
Cinnamon bar:  6 g
Dried Ginger: 6 g
Spring rice: 50g
Organic milk 4 oz.
Dark brown sugar

Cooking instruction: Cook all herbs in water. First boil at a lower temperature for 20min and then use the herbal juice to cook rice to make rice congee (porridge). When the congee is done, add the organic milk and dark brown sugar in the congee and bring it to boil again for 1-2 min.

Intake: This is one serving. Take once a day. 7 days as course of treatment.

2.  Heart Yin deficiency type:

In this pattern of heart condition, patient tends to feel a warm sensation on the chest, palms and bottoms of the feet, heart palpitations, low spirits, forgetfulness, insomnia, dry lips and mouth. They may also have constipation and only a small quantity of urine that is dark in color, regardless of whether or not the patient drinks a lot of water or not.

a. Lotus seed dessert

Lotus seed: 120g (soak to soften then steam it till tender)
Fresh pineapple: 80g (cut into pieces)
Longan ( 龙眼肉Euphoria longan fruit) dried: 15 g
Green Soy beans (青豆) cooked or canned
Rock sugar: 20g (冰糖)

Cooking instruction: In a pot with water, cook green soy beans and longan fruit. Cook lotus seeds rock sugar together and bring to a boil. Then add fresh pineapple to the soup and serve.

Intake: Can be served alone or along with meals.

b. Cordyceps and sweat rice congee

Sweet rice: 50g
Rock sugar 30g
Cordyceps powder: (冬虫夏草Cordyceps sinensis) 1g

Cooking instruction: Make rice soup with water, sweet rice and rock sugar and cook untill it’s done. Then add Cordyceps powder in the congee, boiling for 15 minutes. After it’s all done, cover the congee for 5 minutes before serving.

Intake: One serving, once a day. 7 days is a course of treatment.

3. Heart and Spleen deficiency type:

The main symptom in this pattern of heart condition is low appetite, abdominal bloating, pale complexion, easily becoming dizzy, shortness of breath and heart palpitations. Most of the patients with this pattern of diagnosis tend to eat less and sleep less during the night and experience extreme fatigue and low spirits.

a. Dang gui Lamb Soup; 当归羊肉汤

Dang Gui: ( 当归Angelica sinensis )25g
Huang qi ;(黄芪黄芪 Astragalus) 25g
Dang shen: ( 党参Codonopsis )25g
Lamb meat: 500g (cut into small pieces)
Green onion: 6g
Ginger: 6 g
Sea salt (easy on the salt)
Cooking wine

Cooking instruction: Put all the herbs in a gauze cloth and tie off the bag.  Put lamb in a clay pot or glassware, with ginger, green onion, salt and cooking wine with the herbal bag together to make soup till the lamb is very tender.

Intake: Along with meal, once a day.  Drink the soup and eat the meat.

b. Ginseng and shou wu congee

American ginseng: 3 g
Cordyceps powder: 2 g
He shou wu: (何首乌Polygonum )15A
Bai he : ( 百合Lilium bulbs )12 g
Spring rice: 60g

Cooking instruction: Soak the Polygonum and Lilium bulbs in 500ml water for one hour then bring it to boil for 20 minutes until water is reduced to about 200ml. Then only use the liquid part, the herbal juice, to make congee with spring rice. When the rice congee is done, add American ginseng and Cordyceps powder to the congee and mix well before serving.

Intake: Take it warm as breakfast or dinner, 1-2 times per day

4. Heart and Kidney Yang deficiency type:

The characteristic of this type of heart condition is a feeling of cold on all four limbs with loose stool or/and watery diarrhea and very pale complexion. Most of this type of patient tends to be in a chronic condition and in the elderly manifests with being in very low spirits and exhaustion without enough strength to talk.

a. Ba Ji Beef Soup

Traditional Chinese Herb Market in Chengdu, where Cordyceps sinenses are being prepared for sale. They are strung  on a string and then arranged in flower-like shapes.  Organic Beef: 250 g , cut into small piece
Ba Ji tian (巴戟天Morinda officinalis)30 g
Ginger, green onion, Sichuan pepper, salt and cooking wine

Cooking instruction: In a clay pot or glassware, put all ingredient together and appropriate amount of water to cook it at lower temperature until meat is tender and falls apart.

Intake: Serve as side dishe along with meal.

b. Wild Yam Tea

Chinese wild yam:  (山药, Dioscorea opposita) 60g
Du Zhong : (杜仲Eucommia ulmoides )30g

Cooking instruction: Wash the two herbs until clean and soak for one hour, then boil at medium temperature for 20-30 minutes.  Discard the herb, only drink the juice.

Serve: As tea.

[Dr. Helen Hu, originally from Beijing China, has studied Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) since the age of 12. A Cardiologist and practitioner of integrated medicine for nine years before immigrating to the United States, Dr. Hu passed the “U.S. Licensing Medical Exam” (USLME) in 1997 while simultaneously obtaining her Oriental Medical Degree (OMD) in the US.   Dr. Hu currently directs and manages a successful TCM practice in San Diego. She lectures locally on Acupuncture and the benefits of combining Eastern / Western styles of Medicine.  Dr. Hu has been practicing Tai Ji and Qi Gong over 25 years, and she teaches these ancient Chinese arts Saturday mornings on Shelter Island in San Diego as a gift to the community and to help promote well-being and longevity. or]
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