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The Heart in Chinese Medicine – Is your heart in balance?

The Heart in Chinese Medicine – Is your heart in balance?

The Heart – Seat of the Soul

How is your heart doing? Have you ever had a broken heart? Have you ever been scared and felt your heart beating very fast?

The heart is the seat of the soul in many cultures. Our emotions and feelings influence our hearts in different ways. Laughter, love, joy and empathy for others (this also means collaborative activities) have the most positive influence on the heart. Then our heart energy can flow freely and we feel warm and affectionate. Out of this energy, we can communicate with others on the heart level and feel deeply connected.

The heart and its functions in Traditional Chinese Medicine

In TCM the heart has many more functions than in Western medicine. Let’s look at some of the most important roles of the heart in Traditional Chinese Medicine

A healthy heart manifests in our complexion and pulse. The heart controls the blood circulation in the vessels. When the pulse is full and even and the complexion is rosy, then the person is in good health.

The heart houses the mind “Shen” and reflects all aspects of our spiritual, emotional and intellectual being. With an anchored Shen one is able to do the right thing at the right time in the right place. We will feel emotionally balanced and peaceful, have a sound sleep and a keen mind and memory. We feel alive and happy and follow with passion our path of life. 

The heart opens up into the tongue and controls our language ability. A person who is well articulated, speaks at the right pace and at a normal volume, has a strong heart energy. As a result, the tongue is a normal red colour, normal size, is evenly shaped and is able to distinguish the 5 flavours.

The heart controls the blood. The heart, together with the spleen, is involved in the production of blood and pumps the blood into the circulation and supplies it to all of the organs. The blood is the root of our mind (Shen).

Sweat is the fluid of the heart. Therefore, there is a close connection between blood and body fluids. The blood is governed by the heart and is the main fluid of this organ. Sweating when feeling nervous and stressed, especially under the armpits and on the hands can indicate a heart imbalance.

The heart in Traditional Chinese Medicine

Other characteristics of the heart in Traditional Chinese Medicine

Element: Fire
Direction: South
Partner organ: Small intestine
Climate: Summer (heat)
Colour: Red
Emotion: Joy, inner harmony
Taste: Bitter
Smell: Scorched
Body tissue: Blood vessels
Sound of the voice: Laughing
Day time: 11am – 1pm

Symptoms of a heart imbalance

The heart is also called the emperor of the body. Together with the kidneys, the heart determines the state of our constitution. The heart influences the state of our emotions, mental activity, thinking, memory, sleep and consciousness. If out of balance, it can lead to numerous problems.

It can lead to emotional imbalances like:

Restlessness, emotional coldness, exaggerated joy and enthusiasm, low self-esteem, constant laughter, no humour, forgetfulness, anxiety, insecurity, manic depression, lack of self-love, hardening of the arteries, palpitations, thrombosis, red or pale complexion, excitability, talking a lot or no wish to talk, oppression, frigidity, tongue ulcers, speech difficulty, stuttering, speech impairments, nervousness, concentration and memory disorders;

It can lead to physical imbalances:

Spontaneous sweating, night sweating, hot flashes, low or high blood pressure, dizziness, fears, problems to fall asleep, disturbed sleep or insomnia, excessive dreaming, aversion to heat, hardening of the arteries (arteriosclerosis), heart and vascular diseases, thrombosis, heart attack, irregular pulse, twitching, mania;

Acupressure for the heart meridian

The heart meridian arises from the heart, then passes internally through the diaphragm and connects to the small intestine. A branch runs from the heart to the throat and to the eyes. Another branch penetrates from the heart into the lungs and comes to the surface in the armpit. There it connects with the external heart meridian who runs on the ulnar side of both arms to the ulnar side of the tip of the little finger. You can stimulate points along this meridian by gentle pressure with your thumb or index finger.

Most important acupressure points of the heart meridian 

Acupressure is closely linked to acupuncture. However, no needles are set here, but certain points of the skin are activated by gentle pressure. This helps to relieve pain and other physical ailments, reduce stress and support reducing symptoms. Therefore, acupressure is suitable for self-treatment.

Click on the following link to find the exact location of the points below:

Heart 1 – jiquan 

  • clears empty heat
  • calms the mind
  • opens the thorax
  • removes blockages from the channel

Indications

Heart and chest pain, distention and fullness of hypochondrium, pain in the axilla, palpitations, anxiety, sadness, dry throat, heartache, pain and tension in the flanks, inability to raise the shoulder;

Heart 3 – shaohai

  • calms the mind
  • drains heart fire
  • clears heart empty heat
  • removes obstructions from the channel

Indications

Anxiety, mental restlessness, difficulty falling asleep, sleep disturbances with sweating, heartache, inappropriate laughter, red eyes, severe depression;

Heart 4 – lingdao

  • nourishes the heart and calms the mind
  • strengthens the voice
  • relaxes the sinews of the elbow and arm

Indications

Loss of voice, redness and swelling of the eyes, sadness, fear, anxiety, mental restlessness, nausea, pain and obstruction along the heart and small intestine channel;

Heart 5 – Tongli

  • main point for tonifying heart-Q
  • regulates the heart rhythm
  • calms the mind
  • benefits the tongue
  • regulates uterus
  • benefits the bladder
  • benefits head and eyes

Indications

Excessive menstrual bleeding, loss of voice, stiff tongue, palpations, stuttering, red eyes, eye pain, red face, headache, dizziness, speechlessness, sadness, mental restlessness, anger, fright, agitation, enuresis;

Heart 6 – yinxi

  • clears empty heart heat
  • calms the shen
  • nourishes heart yin
  • invigorates heart blood

Indications

Night sweats, dry mouth, heart pain, stabbing in the chest, nose bleeding, palpations, jumpiness, insomnia, mental restlessness, vomiting of blood;

In combination with kidney 7 it can stop night sweating from heart yin deficiency.

Heart 7 – shenmen

  • calms the mind
  • nourishes heart blood
  • clears heart heat

Indications

Amenorrhoea, scanty periods, mental retardation in children, anxiety, memory loss, impotence in men, lack of sexual desire in women, stops itching in skin diseases, stiffness of the back, arm tremors, contraction of the arm, insomnia, poor memory, agitation, shouting, palpitations, irritability, indifference, depression.

Heart 8 – shaofu

  • drains fire from the heart and small intestine
  • regulates heart Qi from liver Qi stagnation
  • calms the shen and strengthens heart
  • regulates uterus
  • lifts sinking Qi

Indications

Itching of genitals, prolapse of uterus, difficult urination, enuresis, excessive dreaming, psychosis, worry, sadness, agitation, mental restlessness, palpitations, bad breath, bitter mouth taste, swollen tongue, eye pain, red eyes, loss of consciousness, thirst, feeling of heat, chest pain;

Heart 9 – shaochong 

  • clears heat
  • benefits the tongue and eyes
  • extinguishes wind
  • regulates Qi in the thorax
  • calms the mind
  • enhances resuscitation
  • extinguishes internal wind

Indications

Loss of consciousness, red and painful eyes, swollen tongue, palpitations, heart pain, agitation, prevents fainting, severe anxiety, fullness in the heart region, pain at the root of the tongue, manic depression, sadness, mental restlessness;

Relationships of the heart to other organs in Traditional Chinese Medicine

Heart and spleen: The spleen is the basis for producing blood. In addition, spleen weakness can also cause mucus accumulation in the heart area.

Heart and lungs: These two organs form the upper heater and are both of dynamic character. The lungs rules the Qi, the heart moves the blood.

Heart and kidney: These two organs represent elementary opposites like above and below; Fire (heart) and water (kidney);

Heart and liver: These two have a close connection on the blood and psychological level. The heart is the origin of emotions and regulates the flow of blood whereas the liver is responsible for a smooth flow of emotions, Qi and blood.

How would it feel to free yourself from your symptoms?  Ready to change and invest time and energy to get to the root of your problem? Then book your session now. I am looking forward to meeting you.

Wheat Berry Tea for Better Sleep and Fewer Sweats

Wheat Berry Tea for Better Sleep and Fewer Sweats

Do you sometimes have problems falling asleep? Do you feel restless and agitated especially in the evening and when going to bed? Maybe you suffer from spontaneous sweating during the day or night. Wheat berry tea can be a great help when used as a supportive, alternative and natural remedy to ease these symptoms.

Wheat berry properties according to TCM

In Chinese medicine, wheat berry tea is refreshing, cooling and moistening because it replenishes the heart Qi and calms the mind. It tonifies the yin of the heart, liver and kidneys by cooling down, alleviating thirst and strengthening superficies to control sweating.

Temperature: cool
Taste: sweet, slightly salty
Affected meridian: heart, kidneys, spleen
Effective direction: descending

Effective for treating:

– Sleeping disorders due to Blood deficiency* and Yin deficiency*
– Spontaneous sweating due to Qi deficiency*
– Night sweats and hot flashes due to Yin deficiency*
– Postpartum deficiency sweats
– Bed wetting in children
– Emotional instabilities
– Palpitations
– Irritability

Recipe
1/2 litre of cold water
2 tbsp of germinated wheat berries (Fu Xiao Mai)

Simmer 30 minutes, remove the wheat grains and drink over the day preferably lukewarm.

Attention: Don’t drink with gluten intolerance.

Tip: It is important to drink the tea for several weeks if the symptoms have been present for some time. It takes time to rebuild the yin of the heart, liver and kidneys, but after some time you will feel calmer and more grounded, less prone to sweating and have a deeper and more restful sleep.

When to avoid wheat berry tea

As wheat berries have a very cooling effect, you should only drink it in combination with liquorice and red dates when suffering from:

– Yang deficiency*
– Dampness*
– Diarrhoea
– Sensitivity to cold

Herbal tea mixture

The Chinese herbal mixture of wheat berries combined with liquorice root and red dates harmonizes the center and supports digestion, strengthens the heart and soothes the mind. In addition, it helps to ease tension and stress, melancholy, worry and hyperactivity. It helps exhausted women after a tiring birth and calms babies who cry frequently at night.

Recipe
1 litre of cold water
2 tbsp of germinated wheat berries (Fu Xiao Mai)
5 pieces of liquorice root (Gan Cao)
2 red dates (Da Zao)

Simmer the wheat berries for 50 minutes and add the liquorice and red dates for another 10 minutes. Then remove the herbs and drink over the day preferably lukewarm.

You can find these Chinese herbs online and in Chinese herbal stores. Some I can recommend are:

France: Calebasse

Germany: Zietenapotheke

Netherlands – shop that ships all over Europe: Shenzhou

If you are suffering from sleeping disorders and heart palpitations, take a look at my article:
Sleep Problems & Heart Palpitations – How a Change in Diet and Chinese Medicine can help

*Yin deficiency symptoms:

– Dry throat and/or mouth, esp. at night
– Dry eyes and skin
– Night sweats, hot flashes
– Tinnitus
– Dizziness, vertigo
– Insomnia
– Tongue: no coating, colour red

*Blood deficiency symptoms:
– Dull or pale complexion
– Extreme fatigue
– Headaches, migraines
– Feels easily hurt and stressed
– Brittle nails
– Poor memory and difficulty focusing
– Feeling of disembodiment
– Infertility
– Depression

*Yang deficiency symptoms:
– Slow metabolism
– Cold body and limbs
– Low motivation and assertiveness
– Clamminess of the skin
– Shortness of breath
– No desire to talk
– Water retention possible

*Dampness symptoms:
– Water retention
– Cellulite
– Overweight
– Heavy head
– Cloudy head
– Feels sleepy and sluggish
– Poor digestion
– Cravings for sweets
– Acne, eczema, psoriasis
– Dull headache
– Yellow eyes and skin
– Plenty of vaginal discharge

References

Maciocia, Giovanni. The Foundations of Chinese Medicine: A Comprehensive Text. Seattle, WA: Eastland Press, Inc. 2009. Print.

„Das 5-Elemente-Kochbuch von Barbara Temelie und Beatrice Trebuth“ (Joy-Verlag)

How would it feel to free yourself from your symptoms?  Ready to change and invest time and energy to get to the root of your problem? Then book your session now. I am looking forward to meeting you.

Sleep Problems & Heart Palpitations – How a Change in Diet and Chinese Medicine Can Help

Sleep Problems & Heart Palpitations – How a Change in Diet and Chinese Medicine Can Help

Do you feel restless in the evening and have difficulties falling asleep? Do you maybe feel anxious, dizzy and get easily scared? Then it could be possible that you suffer from a heart blood deficiency.

Traditional Chinese medicine can help alleviate the symptoms through the use of acupuncture and herbal treatments. However, by examining our diets and eliminating some of the culprits whilst increasing the intake of foods that benefit the heart can lead to a renewed healthier physical state.

The heart is considered as the emperor of the body which hosts the spirit also called « Shen ». According to the “Yellow Emperor’s Classic”—the oldest known writings in Chinese medicine—the strength of the Shen is fundamental to good health: “If Shen is strong, the body will be strong; if we lose Shen, the body will perish.” Spirit and Shen are closely linked. For example the spirit can be disturbed by extreme emotions, negative and positive ones and then disturbs the Shen.

Besides treating this condition at my TCM practice with acupuncture and herbs, it is essential to change nutrition and life style habits to attain and maintain a healthy state again. What are the symptoms and reasons for this condition? Which foods can improve it?

The symptoms of a heart blood deficiency

  • Palpitations (more pronounced in the evening)
  • Problems to fall asleep
  • Insomnia
  • Poor memory
  • Mild anxiety
  • Dream disturbed sleep
  • Easily startled
  • Tiredness, exhaustion
  • Scanty or absent periods (amenorrhoea)
  • Paleness

The reasons which lead to it

  • Consuming spicy foods regularly
  • Eating too less and nutrient-poor foods
  • Having too much meat, especially deep-fried and grilled
  • Constant stress and pressure of time
  • Drinking too much alcohol and black tea
  • Smoking
  • Chronic diseases
  • Severe blood loss e.g. childbirth, after an operation, etc.
  • Chronic worry and anxiety disturbs the shen
  • Dietary insufficiencies and over-thinking which causes spleen qi deficiency that can cause blood deficiency

The foods that help

For the successful treatment of a heart blood deficiency it is important to avoid everything what harms the heart (see above under reasons) and to eat the right foods.

Foods that benefit the heart

  • Endive
  • Quinoa
  • Amaranth
  • Egg yellow
  • Oats
  • All kinds of berries
  • Dates
  • Black olives
  • Black sesame seeds
  • Beetroot
  • Parsley
  • Octopus, oyster and sardines
  • Flaxseed oil
  • Mung beans
  • Wheat berry

It takes some time to rebuild heart blood and it is necessary to eat these food regularly and adapted to the season. To strengthen your heart and to support the process you should focus on maintaining a positive outlook, practicing benevolence and compassion, getting enough rest, seeking peace and tranquility, meditating and going out in nature.

 

How would it feel to free yourself from your symptoms?  Ready to change and invest time and energy to get to the root of your problem? Then book your session now. I am looking forward to meeting you.