Acupuncture in Practice: An Additive Therapy for Chronic Heart Disease

Welcome to acu in practice and Happy Valentine’s week! With “hearts” on the mind, we will be featuring Cal, a 10 year old male neutered Boston terrier with a long history of digestive disorders including exocrine pancreatic insufficiency (EPI) and Irritable Bowel Disease (IBD). These problems were confirmed with blood values and biopsies respectively. By now, you may be thinking, this is not a “heart” dog…this is a “spleen” dog! And you would be right. However, recently, Cal was diagnosed with mitral valve disease and mild cardiomegaly and was placed on Pimobendan to reduce stress on the heart and help in its function of moving blood forward. The point of this story is to remember that the heart is a muscle. According to TCM, when the Spleen is weak, it is unable to assimilate nutrients that are needed to build Blood and Muscle. Thus, the Heart can be affected over time. Many cases of mitral valve disease in aging pets are due to a weakened or wasted valve, which can stem from Spleen Qi Deficiency or develop as a Wei syndrome, not necessarily a primary Heart pattern. Long standing Heat from Kidney Yin deficiency can also contribute to Wei syndrome of the Heart. As the valve insufficiency continues, especially if completely unaddressed, the Heart Muscle dilates and becomes even weaker. Heart Qi Deficiency and Blood stagnation may occur.


Helpful Acupuncture Points:

Tonify the Spleen – BL 20, SP 6

Nourish Blood – SP 10, BL 17, SP 6

Tonify Qi – LI 10

Tonify Blood and Qi, move Stagnant Blood and Qi – SP 6, ST 36, SP 10

If Yin deficiency, Tonify Yin: SP 6, BL 23, KID 3

Tonify the Heart, if actual Heart patterns are diagnosed: PC 6, HT 7, BL 14, BL 15


Food therapy is a cornerstone in treating patients with Spleen Deficiency and in helping to build muscle.


Herbs are helpful and chosen based on the specific patterns of the patient.

In Cal’s case, he was diagnosed with primary Spleen Qi Deficiency. Wei Ling Tang was chosen to support the Spleen and helped to resolve the acute flare up of digestive issues he was experiencing at the time of presentation. He will likely continue on this herb long term due to his chronic tendency for Spleen patterns. He will be reassessed monthly to determine if this herbal formula continues to be appropriate and whether any additional formulas should be added for Blood or Yin.


Cardiac Support by Standard Process was recommended for long term nutritional support geared specifically at the heart.



This post was created by Nell Ostermeier, DVM, CVA, FAAVA and is intended for informational use, not to replace medical advice.

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