Heart Qi Stagnation

With Heart Qi Stagnation, the Heart is unable to do its job effectively.

The Heart sets the overall direction of our life and suffers when strong emotions get to it.


Of course, the heart organ in Western medicine is what most of us are familiar with. In Chinese medicine, the Heart (capital H) has a wider application and comes into many parts of our lives, though it is just as important as in Western medicine.

Qi - the flow of life in us - is ruled by the Lungs and enabled to flow smoothly by the Liver.

Strong emotions interfere with the Lungs and the Liver. When both are affected, the Heart has to take up the strain.

What do 'strong emotions' mean?

  • grief and loss, 
  • anxiety, 
  • worry, 
  • disappointment and sorrow, 
  • ... these mainly affect the Lungs (and the Spleen).

Whereas emotions such as

  • frustration
  • anger, and 
  • inability to achieve results or success
  • ... affect the Liver.

Symptoms of Heart Qi Stagnation

Given these origins, this has the following symptoms (in brackets are the other organs most affected):

  • Stuffiness in the chest. Stuffiness is felt by some as distension, or fullness or oppression. (Lung)
  • Depression: low spirits (Lung and Liver)
  • Lump in the throat (Liver)
  • Breathlessness: shortness of breath (Lungs and Liver)
  • Need to take a large breath (Lungs)
  • Yawning (Lungs and Liver)
  • Sighing (Lungs)
  • Palpitations 
  • Appetite reduced or non-existent (Stomach)
  • Insomnia: sleep is very restless, not deep (Kidney)
  • Cold arms and legs, including hands (Blood)
  • Weakness in arms and legs (Lungs, Stomach)
  • Lips darker than usual: a little purple (Heart)
  • Pallor (Heart)
  • Tongue: a little purple on the sides opposite the chest area
  • Pulse: empty but 'overflows' slightly in the Heart pulse position

Possible Consequences

Although the symptoms above are not pleasant, they aren't life threatening. But, because in Chinese medicine Qi is said to lead the Blood, the trouble is that wherever Qi stagnates, Blood may stagnate, or reach a state of Blood Stasis.

This is not good! Heart Blood Stasis is a syndrome very similar to many serious circulatory disturbances in the Western medicine.

Treatment of Heart Qi Stagnation

In the absence of treatment by a competent practitioner of Chinese medicine, see your Doctor for a check-up.

However, just as relevant for you is to face up to the emotional issues at the root of this syndrome.

For instance, hiding strong emotions may be a cause (both the tendency to 'bottle' them, and the strength of the emotions).

That does not mean that they should be allowed to burst forth! Nearly always, however, you will find talking to someone helpful.

Otherwise ... Well. You may think yourself strong, but believe me, your emotions are stronger and can overpower you. When they do, they can block Qi in one place (your Heart) and send it rushing into other areas, usually upwards - very destructively: sometimes terminally. Beware. (Heart attack and Stroke come to mind.)

Meantime make sure you eat food containing plenty of Omega-3 oils, and a broad range of green and purple vegetables. Avoid sweet food, foods that become sweet when chewed (this includes white bread, for instance!) and be careful of foods containing salt. For many people, less yang food is best.

Read more on our pages on Nutrition and Supplements.

Return from Heart Qi Stagnation to Insomnia.

Click to get to Syndromes.

Jonathan Clogstoun-Willmott Books

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.

Subscribers to Kindle Unlimited can borrow the first four for 'free'.

Qi Stagnation - Signs of Stress

Yin Deficiency - Burnout and Exhaustion

Yang Deficiency - Get Your Fire Burning Again!

Yuck! Phlegm! How to Clear Your Phlegm ...

Western Astrology and Chinese Medicine

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.)


Booking Consultations with Jonathan Clogstoun-Willmott
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