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Although this page is about Heart Blood deficiency, if you haven't yet found out about Heart Blood click on that link and have a quick read.
There are three main causes of Heart Blood deficiency, although it can also arise from Liver Blood deficiency.
Down below I also list another cause, somewhat less common.
Long-term, fear, worry, grief, anxiety, all of these affect the Shen and the Heart energy.
Yin Yang With Heart ID: 3991377
© Thorsten | Dreamstime Stock Photos
Short-term, bad news or sudden loss, as when a relationship breaks up (especially if it’s you who receives the unwelcome news) can ‘break the heart’: or so it feels. Anger affects the Liver more than the Heart, but bitterness remaining after anger affects the Heart.
2. Blood Loss
A loss or haemorrhage of blood depletes Blood throughout the body including Heart Blood. The faster it happens, the more obvious the signs, but anyone who has a steady small, perhaps unnoticed, haemorrhage will eventually be affected.
Such losses might be in the bowels or small intestine, or from taking a drug which diminishes or prevents blood clotting.
Blood losses from heavy periods, surgery, wounds, and during childbirth can all lead to Heart Blood deficiency - often a major contributor to post-natal depression.
Poor nutrition - poor food choices or poor eating habits and/or inability to absorb the nutritive benefit of food because of weak Spleen Qi mean poorly nourished blood: that gives deficient Blood, and therefore potential for or likelihood of Heart Blood deficiency.
As we age, our ability to absorb what we need from food often becomes a problem. For example, our level of vitamin B12 reduces because our stomachs cannot produce what is called the 'intrinsic factor'. Without this our cells function poorly, leading to many problems some of which can be described by Heart Blood deficiency.
There are other causes of Blood deficiency, which leads on to Heart Blood deficiency, including excessive exercise or physical work, weakening your Spleen qi and leading to both Blood stagnation and Qi Stagnation in the the pelvic area.
Some athletes, (mainly women, but also men who have over-strained their bodies) may find they get some of the symptoms of this syndrome, with or without Blood deficiency.
Technical bit of stuff here! If you’re just interested in what
it’s like to have Heart Blood deficiency, jump on down the page to
You may wonder why, if Blood deficiency leads to Heart Blood deficiency, why there is any need to separate the latter deficiency from the former.
For the same reason, why bother dividing Liver Blood deficiency from Blood deficiency?
Good questions and good reasons!
The reasons lie not just in the cause of the deficiency but in its symptoms. The underlying causes of Liver Blood deficiency include, as with Heart Blood deficiency, deficient Blood from weak Spleen Qi and poor nutrition, but with Liver Blood deficiency, deficiency can arise from causes distinct from those of Heart Blood deficiency, (Liver Blood deficiency causes include Liver Qi stagnation and Kidney Qi and Kidney Yin deficiency, none of which produce Heart Blood deficiency).
This syndrome has its own separate causes – see above.
More important are the symptoms of these two forms of Blood deficiency because it is the symptoms which lead to the diagnosis, from which comes the correct treatment.
If you have Heart Blood deficiency, just treating Blood deficiency on its own will help, but it won’t do the whole job: a vital part is missing.
Similarly with Liver Blood deficiency: there are additional actions when treating it that aren’t touched by merely treating Blood deficiency.
Because the Heart governs the Mind, the Shen, and the Shen resides in the Heart Blood, when there is insufficient Heart Blood, there are mental symptoms. (How would you feel if your nice secure house suddenly started evaporating, or perhaps, destitute, you had to go to live on the streets? Insecurity, anxiety, inability to concentrate? ... would be just the start of it!)
PLEASE NOTE! You may not have all these symptoms, but the more of them you have the more likely it is that you have this syndrome.
This is because the Shen lacks the support of the Blood - its stabilising resource, or ground, from which it performs. So, the Shen can’t concentrate properly, and forgets what it was doing.
In a way, it’s like mild shock. Shock occurs when the Shen is suddenly separated out of the Blood, or the Blood is suddenly removed from it.
© Stuart Miles - Fotolia.com
to put things right, to please others, to garner
support. This comes from the Shen looking outside itself for other
sources of support that can replace Heart Blood.
Memory lapses: Blood stores more recent memories, not long-term memories from the past.
Depressed: this is different from Liver Qi depression,
where there is frustration and anger, usually better for exercise. With
deficiency of Heart Blood, there is a lack of purpose, a feeling of
wasted opportunities, of loss, even loss of hope - and exercise is exhausting.
Tearful, guilty: arising from the Shen being unstabilised, unsettled. The Heart can’t properly control the Shen, the emotions.
Because the Shen isn’t solidly based in the Blood, and because the Blood is deficient, the Shen is easily surprised or shocked. An old word for this kind of behaviour, is ‘rattled’, which is perhaps a better description! You may imagine the Shen rattling around in any empty container.
Loss of libido. For good libido, a number of attributes must
converge. Blood, at root, supplies the confidence, and Liver qi enables
everything to flow smoothly. For the proper levels of libido, the Shen
must be relaxed and comfortable and able to enjoy itself. But in the
absence of Heart Blood it cannot relax, and there is anxiety, which
Mild dizziness: from Blood deficiency in the head.
Mild tinnitus: intermittent, starts gradually, not high-pitched. Heart and Kidney have a close relationship and if Heart Blood is deficient, Kidney Yin may also be deficient which leads to noises in the ears.
Tiredness, often worse from 11am to 1pm. Tiredness can occur at any time, but traditionally the times for the Heart zang are 11am to 1pm. Sometimes this can extend to 3pm, because the Heart’s partner, the Small Intestine, has its times 1pm to 3pm.
Palpitations. These are common to nearly all Heart organ patterns. With Heart Blood deficiency, the cause, if you want to try to understand it, is this. Imagine your central heating depends for fluid circulation on a pump. When this encounters steam instead of hot water, there's no resistance, so the pump revs faster until the next water arrives. Without Heart Blood, your Heart revs faster: palpitations.
Breathless. Even walking upstairs starts to be a problem!
Cold Hands. We don’t mean cold hands from brief exposure to cold, which soon warm up in a warm atmosphere, but hands that are usually cold. Cold hands can be from Heart Blood deficiency but also from either Heart or Lung Yang deficiency. If you have cold hands and cold feet, this may be Blood deficiency (more common in women than men) or Stomach Yang deficiency, possibly with Kidney and Spleen Yang deficiency as well.
Menses: scanty, possibly amenorrhoea (no periods) and infertility – from Blood deficiency.
Sleep: difficulty falling asleep – because as you sleep, your Shen is said to rest in your Blood. If your Blood is
deficient, your Shen can’t settle down into it.
Sleep disturbed by dreams: arising from your Shen being
unable to rest comfortably in your Blood. Consequently, your Shen keeps
half waking up, as when disturbed by dreams.
Tongue: pale, thin, often dry, with possibly a long midline crack reaching to the tip
Pulse: choppy or fine
Both short-term and long-term, acupuncture is brilliant, though you may need a number of sessions.
However, it should be backed by
Acupuncture points are chosen to reflect the particular needs of the patient, but would often include points to treat Blood deficiency, including Stomach and Spleen points (eg Stomach 36 and Spleen 6) and Heart Blood and Qi, such as Heart 7, Pericardium 6, Ren 14 and 15, Bladder 15, 17 and 22.
Points for the Spirit might also be chosen, but very much depending on the need of the patient and the experience of the practitioner. They might include points with the word ‘Spirit’ in their name, such as Kidney 25, (Shen Cang - Spirit Storehouse), or other points with somewhat similar attributes such as Triple Burner 10, (Tian Jing - Heavenly Well).
Chinese herbs can be superb here too, but you will need to keep taking them for a while.
All the books in the 'Chinese Medicine in English' series should be fully accessible on Kindles and Kindle apps. (Or you can buy the softback print editions, of course.)
('Western Astrology and Chinese Medicine' published 1986, was never available in a Kindle version.)
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Here are some of the books I (Jonathan) have written.
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Published 1986 and, amazingly, still selling. Western Astrology and Chinese Medicine was apparently used back then by at least one acupuncture college to help students understand Chinese medicine! See Reviews.
Seven Reviews so far for Yuck Phlegm. (Despite the lurid cover, it explains the five main types of phlegm and what works best for each type. I hope it's easy to read and will be much more useful than all the websites on the subject.)
Alternatively, ring him on 07950 012501 or freephone (only free to telephone within the UK) 0800 298 7015.
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