Heart and Lung Qi Deficiency

Emotions and chong mai symptoms
Emotions - Photo by Milada Vigerova on Unsplash

If you have Heart and Lung Qi deficiency, then at some point you’ve had a period of intense sadness, worry or grieving. It could have been other emotions such as from frustration, but these would have just exacerbated the underlying emotional state.

Joyousness and playfulness are probably not your main temperamental pattern!

There are other reasons too, see below.

Symptoms of Heart and Lung Qi deficiency

As you might expect, Heart and Lung Qi deficiency has symptoms of both Heart Qi deficiency and Lung Qi deficiency.

These energy organs lie in your chest. This space is as vital in Chinese as it is in Western medicine.

When the basic ingredients of blood are put together in the abdomen they do not yet constitute the substance that, in Chinese medicine,is called Blood. (Read more about this here.)

In Chinese medicine, your blood (lower case) acquires its special quality only when it acquires it from your Lungs and Heart energy organs. The Lungs provide Qi and the Heart provides life.

So if, for whatever reason, the Heart and Lung Qi is deficient, you will lack Qi and ‘life’, in the sense of liveliness or spiritedness. (Not Spirituality – that’s something quite else!)

The following symptoms are seldom experienced by everyone with this Heart and Lung Qi deficiency syndrome. I’ve marked in bold the main ones.

  • You will lack spirit: sparkle!
  • You will also be tired, because Qi is energy and you are Qi deficient.
  • The other symptoms of this Heart and Lung qi deficiency syndrome follow from the properties of the Heart and the Lungs, and from not having enough Qi.


woman carrying two lighted sparklers against black background
Photo by Marcelo Matarazzo



  • Palpitations – unusual beatings you feel in your chest, either slow or fast. This is the most common symptom occurring in Heart and Lung Qi deficiency.
  • Pulse tends to be slow, intermittent or irregular but can be unusually or unexpectedly fast on motion. Sometimes you feel the need to walk about to ‘keep it going’.
  • Tiredness – lassitude – strength sinks away – faintness
  • Depression or lowered spirits: this might not be clinical depression but a lack of joie de vivre
  • Poor posture, often stooped (stooping too much, whether from poor posture or working hunched at a desk or over a computer, could contribute to this and also to Heart and Lung Qi stagnation, blocking the movement of Qi in your chest, leading also to its deficiency)
  • Low or weak voice, and dislike of speaking or singing: it’s too much effort. Chest feels weak.
  • frequently short of breath, ie taking big breaths or sighs even when not physically active, but if you are physically active you’ll easily feel out of breath and need to rest: for example when ascending stairs
  • respiration is irregular. For example, you may find that you ‘forget’ to breath then have to make up for it with a series of huge sighs
  • pallor – not just pale but a shade described as ‘bright-white’: if there is also Yang deficiency your lips will be blue-ish.
  • cough – not much of one, but often to clear the chest
  • you often catch mild infections like colds


green tree on green grass field during daytime
Photo by Jay Wennington
  • dislike of cold
  • hands feel and look cold
  • frequent perspiration even when inactive
  • poor appetite, even nausea, if the condition is advanced
  • tinnitus, or noises in your ears, worse the more tired you feel. The sound is usually hissing for this type of tinnitus. One writer describes it as being like the sound of boiling water.
  • Frequent need to urinate
  • Heart feels as if it might stop if you move too much. Small movements cause your heart beat to palpate, too fast, too slow, intermittent, weak, irregular.
  • Fluids leak: urine, tears, saliva, sweat, spermatorrhoea. Much expectoration, often it looks like clear mucus. Qi deficiency of any kind can lead to this, but especially with Heart and Lung Qi deficiency.
  • Haemoptysis: coughing up blood – but this is when the condition becomes more advanced.
  • various other indefinite symptoms that you cannot understand (and probably neither can your doctor!)
  • Tongue: pale
  • Pulse: described as ’empty’, weak, mainly in the Heart and Lung positions on the wrist


Why you have this syndrome

Underlying this syndrome of Heart and Lung qi deficiency is your constitution. In other words, blame your parents and their parents and their p…

But cheer up, you can probably get yourself better and live longer than any of them, with a bit care and attention.

However, if before you were conceived your parents smoked heavily or had lung problems; if they were both overworked or overwraught when you were conceived and your mother was often tired or underfed during your pregnancy, then your constitution will suffer.

In that case you may be more susceptible to this and other syndromes. You may like to read our pages on the Disease Process and on Suppression. Then read the page on Primary and Secondary Actions. Sorry, lots to read.

Other important factors leading up to this syndrome include:

  • A period of sadness or grief: this might go back many years, or may be sudden and recent – a huge sense of loss. This affects both your Lungs and Heart but dissipating your Qi. (Then you often get some Qi Stagnation exacerbated by other life frustrations.)
  • Bad posture – as described above – blocks the flow of Qi through your chest. NB This is more important than you may think! Don’t ignore it.
  • Talking loudly or shouting, although I have a friend who over nearly 70 years doesn’t seem to have suffered from any problems from bellowing at everyone … but I live in hope. Teachers, Sergeant-Majors, Singers, Preachers, Politicians could all suffer from this.
  • Lung Qi deficiency in particular can follow an attack of Wind-Cold or Wind-Heat – like the common ‘cold’
  • Anxiety and Worry. These often affect your Spleen and Stomach energies. The Lung channel commences in the space occupied by your stomach. For this and other reasons (the Five Element or Five Phase theory) when Spleen and Stomach are weak, this weakens your Lung energy. But prolonged worry also dissipates Heart Qi.
  • The good life! Not enough sleep, too many parties, too much alcohol and other such. These weaken your constitution, your Stomach, Spleen and Liver qi and eventually your Kidney qi. That can lead to Heart and Lung Qi deficiency.
  • Overwork: working too long or too often, even if you enjoy it.
  • Insomnia may be the result of emotions and overwork. If you don’t get enough sleep you’ll get tired, Qi deficient. Eventually that can lead to Heart and Lung Qi deficiency.
  • Anger can affect your Heart energy. It usually starts by affecting your Liver qi but, especially when there is bitterness or vindictiveness involved, it moves on to your Heart. The resulting Heart Qi deficiency, even Heart Qi Stagnation may lie sometime in the future but beware: it is easy to think you aren’t affected! Get some good acupuncture to clear these evil ‘airs’ out of your system.
  • Too much sex. This affects your Kidney energy which is the substrate for all your other energies. So when your Kidney Qi is depleted you make yourself more susceptible to Heart and Lung Qi deficiency.


What makes your symptoms worse?

The main things that make Heart and Lung Qi deficiency even worse are:

  • Exertion ie over-exertion, though if your condition is advanced you may fear any physical exertion. But walking is good.
  • Emotions – worry, sadness, grief, frustration …
  • Standing still for long periods (Why? Because this drains your Kidney Qi which supports all forms of your Qi.)
  • Cold – because your body uses its Yang energy to combat cold and your Qi energy is part of your Yang energy. Cold can be environmental, cold weather, or cold food or drinks
  • Too great Heat can be a problem too, because your Lungs need Qi to open your pores to cool you. Also your Heart pushes your Blood round and too much Heat can harm it. There are other reasons too, such as Kidney Yin deficiency which often follows Kidney deficiency and overwork.
  • Too much ejaculatory sex for men. Probably an equivalent for women is too many pregnancies close together.


What makes you feel better?

  • Rest. If you habitually overwork or over-party, you need a change and some proper rest. Calm.
  • Sleep
  • Avoidance of stress, worry, grief, frustration, hysteria.
  • Laughter, belly laughter, is good.
  • Good treatment can be really effective unless you are very old and weakened by chronic disease:
  • Good acupuncture and Chinese herbs – herbs should not taken for too long without reassessment. Chinese herbs are powerful and can be cloying, heavy, if taken for too long.


Chinese herbs
Chinese herbs
  • Personally I often suggest people try a homoeopathic remedy first as rightly chosen and administered it often works fastest. But you need to choose the right remedy: see someone professional. Choosing the wrong remedy, or even choosing the right one but then taking it wrongly could make you worse, and harder to cure.
  • Cool, fresh, air (not too cold)
  • Lying down, possibly with head slightly raised – try it. (But some prefer the head lower. Try that too: you may need help getting up.)
  • Try sitting erect. That helps some. (Which position? It depends on other factors in your constitution, too complicated to go into on this page, already too long.)
  • When your digestion has emptied your stomach. So immediately after a heavy meal you may feel temporarily worse.
  • Try dark chocolate. But not too much – it will make you nauseous.
  • Try dark tea. Even better, green tea (Brew your tea with clean fresh water.)
  • Go for a leisurely walk – in the open air if possible. Regularly – ie daily! 20 minutes minimum.
  • If you are also Yang deficientcoffee may help, temporarily. But if you also have Yin deficiency (and you might), you’ll feel worse some hours later and won’t be able to sleep. So tread carefully.
  • Encouragement, support, love and spirit.


The potential dangers of Heart and Lung Qi deficiency

If Qi fails to circulate in your body properly, especially in your chest, this can lead to Qi stagnation and then Blood stasis.

These produce, eventually, especially when you become not just Qi deficient but Yang deficient too (the first leads on to the second) to Western-described diseases like angina and Heart attack.

However, that’s not all. When Qi is deficient it leads to other blockages and stagnations that may affect your

  • liver
  • stomach
  • genito-urinary organs
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