Nutrition for the Heart: Rate & Rhythm

by Jamie Holland, LAc, ABT, ACN

In this article:

  • Balancing the autonomic nervous system (ANS) with Potassium and Phosphorus
  • Regulating heart rhythm with Calcium and B4

Autonomic Nervous System (ANS)

The autonomic nervous system (ANS) consists of the sympathetic (fight or flight), parasympathetic (rest and digest) and enteric nervous system. The ANS is about balance, or homeostasis, and includes control of cardiovascular function, temperature, metabolism, digestion, reproduction and healing. In Chinese medicine, we can loosely relate the sympathetic nervous system to Yang functions of the body and parasympathetic nervous system to Yin functions of the body.

“Autonomic dysfunction produces a complex array of clinical problems including cardiovascular dysregulation resulting in inappropriate blood pressure and heart rate responses to physiological stressors, erectile dysfunction, and thermoregulatory and sweating.” —Reviews in Clinical Gerontology 2011 (33)

Phosphorus: The Gas

Phosphorus is the fire of the body. Think phosphorus flares. When the body is parasympathetic dominant (sluggish, slow heart beat, fatigue) phosphorus is often needed. Phosphorus is the fuel for the ANS and essential for energy (ATP).

ATP (Adenosine triphosphate) is our body's molecular energy currency. Within the word Adenosine triphosphate, you might notice Tri and Phosphate. Tri = 3 and Phosphate = Phosphorus. In order for our body to make ATP or energy, it needs 3 phosphate molecules per 1 adenosine molecule. Many of us are running on adeno diphosphate (only 2 molecules of phosphorus) or adeno monophosphate (only 1 molecule of phosphorus), which causes our sympathetic nervous system to underperform.

“Adenosine triphosphate (ATP) is a nucleotide used in cells as a coenzyme. It is often called the ‘molecular unit of currency’: ATP transports chemical energy within cells for metabolism. Every cell uses ATP for energy.” (32)

At Lakewood Community Acupuncture, using the Heart Sound Recorder, we can assume parasympathetic dominance when we record a long rest period—longer than 1:2 (work to rest ratio) as seen above. For most patients with a long rest period and concurrent low energy or other parasympathetic dominant symptoms, taking phosphorus will significantly increase energy and begin to bring the ANS back into balance.

Potassium: The Breaks

Potassium acts as the brakes for your ANS. When the body is deficient in Potassium, the heart is unable to properly regulate glucose intake and your heart will race. This is a sympathetic dominant state, where your body is caught in a fight or flight response. Using the Heart Sound Recorder, we can assume sympathetic dominance when we record a short rest period—shorter than 1:2 (work to rest) ratio, as seen above. Potassium can calm the ANS, often relaxing an anxious or stressed body, improving sleep and bringing the heart back to a normal healthy rate.

“Potassium plays a role in every heartbeat. A hundred thousand times a day, it helps trigger your heart to squeeze blood through your body… It also helps your muscles to move, your nerves to work, and your kidneys to filter blood.” —WebMD (34)

“...If you’re deficient in potassium your heart tends to run away; to race. Paroxysmal Tachycardia is a specific example you can correct that right now with alfalfa tea or alfalfa tablets or mineral extracts of alfalfa or kelp... Paroxysmal Tachycardia often comes on after a heavy meal. Why? Because you eat a lot of carbohydrates and ice cream and sugar, pie, cake: That sugar has to be stowed away in the liver and muscles and it requires potassium to go along with it. When the potassium is all used up and there’s some sugar left maybe, that’s when you’re really in trouble, that’s when the ol’ heart starts popping off.... Number one, cut down the carbohydrates and number two, get more potassium. That will clear it right up.” —Excerpt from Lectures of Dr. Royal Lee, Vol. II., Selene River Press, Inc.

Calcium and an Irregular Heart Beat

Calcium is another mineral that is important for proper rhythm of the heart. When there is low tissue calcium, the heartbeat can become irregular. Getting enough tissue calcium requires Calcium, vitamin D and essential fatty acids.

“… found that calcium in arrhythmia revealed the anxiety, the dyspnea, and palpitations while it regularized the rhythm.” —Calcium Therapy in Diseases of the Cardiovascular System (39)

“Calcium cycling defects have emerged as a critical form of molecular dysfunction that directly contributes to contractile dysfunction and associated malignant arrhythmia in failing hearts”—The Journal of Physiology (40) 

“Deprived of sufficient calcium, the heart can beat erratically, possibly leading to fatal stoppage.”—Health, Novel Drug Attacks the Cause of Some Cardiac Attacks, Ron Winslow, 2004

“When the heart pumps properly, the muscle contractions are regulated by waves of calcium… In atrial fibrillation, the calcium is released too early. As it leaks out, the heart beats too fast and irregularly.” —Dr Xander Wehrens, assistant professor of molecular physiology and biophysics. 

Using the Heart Sound Recorder, we can record irregular heart beats as seen above, and assume some Calcium deficiency and/or B4 deficiency (images above and below).

Vitamin B4 (and B1): Enlarged Heart and Irregular Heart Beat 

B4 is the anti-paralysis vitamin. It helps the heart receive and interpret electrical information. This is not the same as the nervous system giving electrical information. When the heart muscle is deficient in B4, the muscle tone relaxes and the heart beat becomes irregular. The relaxation of the heart muscle can lead to an enlarged heart and a separation of the valves, causing the valves to not close properly. (49)

B4 is found in organ meats such as liver, and in lower quantities in rice bran and brewers yeast. Also found dried grass, peanuts, wheat germ, pork brain, pork kidneys (38). B4 cannot be synthesized in the lab, so most multivitamins and B supplements don't contain it. B4 is depleted by anything that stresses our liver: sugar, alcohol.

“...Well when the heart enlarges, the valves are made of cartilage, they don’t enlarge, so that the opening enlarges along with the heart and there’s bound to be leakage from the enlargement. It’s that simple. You supply some of this Vitamin B [B4] which promotes the muscle tone, the heart will contract to normal size, usually inside of ten minutes. The valve leakage disappears… ” —Excerpt from Lectures of Dr. Royal Lee, Vol. II., Selene River Press, Inc.

“...the most common reaction of B4 deficiency. The innervation to the heart becomes partly paralyzed, the pulse becomes erratic, extra systoles are common, and ultimately fibrillation may develop.” —The Vitamin Front, 1947, Address to Naturopathic Physicians of Florida by Dr Royal Lee. 



***A special thanks to Dr Mark Anderson, and his Back to School for Doctors Seminars 2015 and 2016. Without him and his vast capacity to research, this article would not exist.
Szent-Györgyi - The scientist who discovered vitamin C & P 2013
Block That Stroke, by J.D. Ratcliff, COLLIER'S WEEKLY - The Unz
Gyorgyi LETTER to editor NATURE 7-4-36

Michelle Astringer
Michelle Astringer
I have been working with Jamie 2x per week for the past couple of weeks. He is extremely attentive, understanding and thorough. I was nervous to start with acupuncture because of my herniated disc and fear of needles but he has made the experience feel very safe and comfortable. I’ve noticed a decrease in pain after suffering for over a year. Highly recommend!
Dani Zocante
Dani Zocante
We learned about this facility years ago, and try to do a session every week, both practitioners are fantastic!
ashley snider
ashley snider
My first visit to this clinic was incredible. I found it to be educational, supportive and a step in the right direction for my health. Jamie was attentive and provided helpful information and recommendations. Already have a treatment plan underway and my next appointment booked! Highly recommend for anyone interested in acupuncture and what it has to offer.
Carrie Butler
Carrie Butler
Jamie was amazing! He was so nice and very knowledgeable. It was my first time getting acupuncture and he explained each step and what to expect. I would definitely recommend him.
Crystal was able to get me in quickly. Highly recommend.
Sarah Llerena
Sarah Llerena
I recently had an incredible experience at this place, and I don't even know where to begin. I found myself in unbearable back pain, unable to stand up straight, and unsure of what caused it. Fortunately, I was able to schedule a prompt appointment, and Jamie's expertise was truly amazing! After receiving both cupping and acupuncture treatments, I noticed a remarkable improvement right away and within just two days, i was 95% back to my normal self. Don't hesitate to book an appointment here—it made a significant difference for me.
Thomas Najar
Thomas Najar
Great service at a good price. Convenient location, knowledgable staff, clean and inviting clinic.
Tracy Carr
Tracy Carr
This is the best place ever! I get cupping and acupuncture when my back starts acting up and leave feeling like 50 pounds was lifted off my back. Crystal and Jamie are very thorough in their questions to understand what’s going on and the treatment they provide. And the prices can’t be beat. 10/10
Liz Spanos
Liz Spanos
I have been going to Lakewood Community Acupuncture for over a year and can’t imagine my life without it now!! It can truly help with so much - from physical pain (I have issues with my pelvic floor and multiple herniated discs) to emotional blocks, energy deficiencies and more! I ALWAYS feel better after acupuncture. I’ve seen all the practitioners and they are all extremely skilled, but Crystal is my go-to. She is not only very gentle and effective but always a delight to connect with. For the quality of service, atmosphere and price, you cannot do better. It’s been a game changer for me. Wholeheartedly recommend!!


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