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Heart Phlegm Fire, also known as ‘Phlegm Fire Harassing the Heart’, has two forms.
They are interconnected and can change from one to the other. Because of that alternation they can resemble bipolar disorder.
On the one hand, there is the Fire phase, when there is crazy laughter, over-confidence, shouting, physical violence, incoherent behaviour and speech. (Read Heart Fire for the earlier stages of this condition.)
The other phase is the phlegm phase. This is less violent. There is more muttering to himself, with what seems like dullness and depression. He is often confused about his circumstances, and not quite living in the moment.
Either phase can lead to the inability to understand you or to speak, and even on to coma.
However, although the later stages of Heart Phlegm Fire are usually easy to recognise, the earlier stages may merely seem like somewhat wild behaviour: raucous with disproportionate laughter and fits of over-excitement, over-friendliness, over-joyfulness and hyperactivity.
In Phlegm Fire Harassing the Heart, Heat (from the causes given below) blazing over a period of time has not merely pushed energy upwards but has ‘thickened’ the body’s fluids. (Lots of cooking similes in Chinese medicine! Here the idea is that if you simmer a mixture over heat for long enough it will become thicker and more ‘phlegm’-like.)
Don’t think of the blood fluids moving through the Heart here: in Chinese Medicine, the Heart is seen as the governor of the Mind, for which the fluids are lighter and clearer.
However, when heated they thicken to form Phlegm which is said to block or obstruct the ‘orifices of the Heart’. The Mind is disturbed and cannot then function properly, if at all.
This is an ‘excess‘ condition, in whichever of the two forms the patient presents. The heat and the phlegm must be cleared to treat the patient successfully.
The causes of Heart Phlegm Fire share predisposing factors common with Heart Fire.
The main underlying factor is emotional. Strong emotions, often suppressed over a long period, (particularly resentment and anger) cause Qi stagnation. Qi stagnation is such a common cause of ill-health that I’ve written a book about it. See the link below.
This suppressed emotion eventually turns into Fire, much as someone sufficiently goaded will eventually ‘flare up’.
One should remember that Qi Stagnation occurs in a variety of different situations, including pre-menstrual syndrome, relationship problems, work conditions, and situations of fear and anxiety.
Heat can also be generated externally, say from an invasion of Wind-Heat invading the Pericardium (an infectious disease, say). However, here there would normally be fewer Phlegm signs, just coma or confusion.
The other main contributory factor for Phlegm is the diet, although a tendency to worry all the time should not be overlooked (as in some women in pregnancy).
Read my book “Yuck! Phlegm!” for much more about what people on the web recommend for phlegm, what works and what doesn’t. It also suggests foods and herbs for different conditions.
Too much rich, dairy or greasy and hot, pungent and spicy food taken over too long a period provide a basis for Phlegm to form.
Why? Because all these foods have a heating effect on the body, being rich, oily or spicy – or all three.
Indeed, even before the Heart Phlegm Fire begins, there may be signs of Phlegm-Heat, being …
Although the contributing factors to this, (Heart Fire and Phlegm from a poor diet) may take a while to appear, sometimes the onset of Phlegm Fire harassing the Heart can appear quite suddenly, prompted by some emotional trigger or feverish condition.
Just to repeat: the early stages of this condition may not be anything like as extreme as you’ll read below.
Those early stages may include rather extreme, raucous laughter and behaviour; a bit manic perhaps, always up for excitement and enjoying the rush of anticipation, but not completely outside the bounds of behaviour (depending on your society’s customs, of course!).
The individual may seem overtly friendly, bordering on the rude. However, if there is a background of resentment or anger, which then combines with a diet full of rich, greasy, hot-spicy foods, you have all the ingredients for Phlegm Fire Harassing the Heart.
Now all it needs is either a fever, a fright or a fury to set it off.
Very common are the palpitations, the ‘loudness’, the yellow tongue coating and what is called a Heart tongue-line. This line on the tongue runs along the tongue’s mid-line reaching the tip. Quite often there are ulcers or burning soreness and/or swelling at the tongue-tip.
As symptoms develop the following begin to appear:
Phlegm Fire harassing the Heart is seen in Bipolar disorder. We used to call this manic-depression.
This is definitely not a do-it-yourself strategy. Get professional help! The aim of treatment is to clear the Phlegm and reduce the Heat.
There are various acupuncture points that do this. Also herbs.
However, what you can do to help yourself:
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Heart Yang Deficiency – Cold, Tired, Depleted Spirits. Signs , symptoms,, aetiology and what to do! And if you ignore it, what happens next.