Heart Yang Deficiency – Palpitations, Cold and Weak

woman in blue crew neck shirt

Heart Yang Deficiency occurs usually after other syndromes have taken effect.

So, perhaps


and you start noticing the symptoms below of Heart Yang Deficiency.

You probably wouldn’t notice them all immediately!

But as you continue to eat the wrong foods, do heavy lifting and lose self-assurance as you ruminate on your loss, you’ll notice your heart beginning to misbehave, your chest to feel a bit uncomfortable at times, and breathlessness on stairs. Also, your hands will be cold and it may take ages to warm them up. (Of course, your feet might also become chillier, but with Heart Yang deficiency, it’s your hands that usually get cold first.)

Also, you might not have all three pre-conditions, but as a general rule, in diagnosing Heart Yang defiiency, there will be signs of coldness, signs of Kidney yang deficiency and either continuing worry or emotional issues to deal with.

Symptoms of Heart Yang Deficiency

  • During physical activity you get short of breath
  • Frequent tiredness – mainly physical tiredness – inclining you to sit down and rest – though you may like to doze too!
  • A feeling in your chest as if you heart is misbehaving, missing beats or doing sudden little runs, even if your doctor cannot find what he calls ‘palpitations‘.
  • Your chest feels uncomfortable, possibly ‘stuffy’ or ‘full’, making breathing more of an effort.
  • Perspiration – when not expected. You find yourself sweating for no apparent reason: you’re not especially hot, and you haven’t been exercising, though unexpected changes, news or events might trigger it.
  • Coldness. You start feeling much colder than you used to, or you notice the cold more than before, and it’s harder to get warm.
  • Hands start looking and feeling colder. Often they go purple or blue in cold conditions if you’re not exercising vigorously. (And vigorous exercise may not be an option.)
  • Face looks a sort of gleamy-white colour: it’s described as being ‘bright-pale’. Definitely not a pale-white colour. The guy in the picture below has a pale-white colour, which is not the bright-pale lustre described. I’m looking for a better picture to illustrate what I mean!


Tired and Pale From Cold food

  • Lips – probably darker than before, especially in cold weather, but as the condition develops, all the time.
  • Tongue: its colour is pale and it is  moister than before
  • Pulse: your pulse feels weak, and you must press ‘deeply’ to find it. It may seem intermittent – the term used is ‘knotted’.


Why do you get these symptoms in Heart Yang deficiency?

Because Qi conditions are a subset of Yang condtions, Heart Qi deficiency often leads on to Heart Yang deficiency.

With both of these syndromes you get

  • tiredness and weakness
  • shortness of breath
  • unexpected perspiration
  • facial pallor
  • palpitations


These are signs of deficient qi. Even perspiration is an example of deficient qi. (There’s a well-known saying in Chinese medicine: ‘when qi is weak, fluids leak’! So your nose may run, too.). Facial pallor occurs because your qi lacks the eneryg to push blood up there.

Palpitations are your Heart’s main way of showing its qi deficiency.

So you share the above symptoms with Heart Yang deficiency, but for the latter, a big additional factor is Cold.

Cold (yin) is the enemy of yang; too much cold exhausts yang.

Your Spirit – your Shen-Mind

However, there is another important factor for Heart Yang deficiency – your Spirit, your Shen-Mind is the clearest expression of your yang energy.

If your Spirit gets a shock, (could be bad news, the loss of someone important, a big worrying factor in life, loss of intimate friendship, all sorts of examples) it hits your yang.

With Heart Yang being weakened, it lacks the warmth to transport warm blood to your hands and feet – though coldness usually starts in your hands. (Mind you, if Stomach Cold and Deficient was part of the prodrome, you’ll definitely have cold legs too.)

The chest feeling occurs because your Heart Yang can’t move qi around fast enough, so qi backs up there, causing qi stagnation. The typical feeling of qi stagnation is stuffiness.

Chest stuffy or discomfort, a sign of Heart Yang Deficiency
Short of Breath

With yang being weak, you get signs of coldness: in your blue lips because yang can’t move blood along fast enough you get signs of Blood Stasis there.

Also, normally yang dries moisture, but without Heart yang your tongue stays moist.

Here’s an interesting symptom! With Blood deficiency you get a dull-pale facial colour, but with Heart Yang deficiency it is a much brighter pale or gleamy white colour. (Why? Well, sorry –  I forgot to ask or, more likely, I’ve forgotten what I was told, probably several times. Perhaps someone can remind me?)

The Question of Cold

  • Why, you ask, is Cold often a prequel (for example Stomach Cold and Deficient)?
  • Answer, it doesn’t have to be Stomach Cold and Deficient! There are lots of other syndromes that might cause it, including Spleen yang deficiency.
  • When you have any Cold or yang deficient syndrome you have, by definition, more cold. Stomach and Spleen together create the forerunner of what becomes Blood (capital B) which blood becomes after passing through your Heart. Your Heart puts the yang, the ‘spring‘ into it, giving it life. (All a bit nerdy, I know.)  But if there’s too much Cold, ie too much Yin, your Heart may not have enough Yang to compensate. In effect, you lose ‘heart’.


So if you are eating a lot of cold food, this will weaken the yang of your Stomach and Spleen, leading to what I’ll call ‘cold’ blood. To overcome this coldness will require even more yang from your Heart. If heavy exertion has drained your Kidney yang energy, there’s not enough yang left for your Heart. Having low spirits takes even more out of it.

What  can You Do to help your Heart Yang Deficiency?

So, if you start getting these symptoms of Heart Yang deficiency (palpitations, cold hands and chest stuffiness etc)

About the Cold

  • Make sure you never eat cold food/drink – make it always warm – for ideas see our page on warming foods. Stop eating Cold Foods or foods that cool you.
  • Start taking more exercise, but the kind that invigorates and does not exhaust (Gardeners – Beware Heavy Lifting!), Walking is good; so is cycling; swimming too: but don’t get cold.
woman in gray jacket and red knit cap: warm clothing for Heart Yang deficiency
Wear More! Photo by Andreea Pop
  • Wear more, or in warm climates be careful to avoid sudden chills, say in the evening when you may be tired or relaxing

To Foster Yang

  • First, avoid actions that make you tense, irritable or sad.
  • Also, try to avoid worrying matters that prey on your mind all the time. These deplete Stomach Qi, weakening your digestion, Qi and Blood.
  • Then, develop new friendships, or re-invest in old ones to foster the health of your spirit
  • Also for your Shen-Mind, your spirit, listen to inspiring, uplifting music.
  • Go Walking in parks or the country. If you’re already bored by this idea, introduce a more yang element by learning to spot unfamiliar plants or animals, or take small inquisitive children with you
  • Learn Tai Ch’i – in a class with others, if you can: this helps move Qi in all sorts of ways
  • Laughter is good, too (- but not if snide or vindictive). Belly laughs are excellent.
  • Doing anything that reinforces faith is good. For some, it may be religion: for others, working with others to raise living standards perhaps.
  • Learn to paint or draw, to play an instrument, to sing, to write stories or poems
brown and yellow trees on brown grass field during daytime - helps Heart Yang deficiency
Warm colours of Autumn or Fall, usually good for the Spirits!
  • Surround yourself with warm, light colours
  • Spend a little money on fresh flowers for your home.
  • Potted plants round your house can help relax you.
  • Avoid permanent artificial odours round the house, for example to clear or mask odours. There is research showing they can produce depression. But the occasional aromatherapy massage session can be uplifting.


Supplements for Heart Yang Deficiency

Before you rush out to buy what I suggest, please read my disclaimer! The following is based on hypothesis, not on proven data, so please bear that in mind. Again … Disclaimer!

If we assume that with Heart Yang Deficiency you

  • tend to feel cold and
  • are probably Kidney Yang deficient, and that you
  • may already be avoiding cold food and
  • are eating cooked, warm food


… what supplements might be appropriate?

  • supplements to boost what the sun (yang) does to you or
  • which store a form of sunshine


I suggest – again Disclaimer …!

  • Vitamin D3 – because good sunlight warms you and encourages your body to make this. If you already get plenty of good sunlight, no need for this.
  • Omega 3 fatty acids eg from fish or krill. Keep fish limber in cold water, so may help you cope with cold and hinder Blood stasis.
  • Vitamin K2, menaquinones, preferably from natto sources: has anti-coagulant properties and also benefits bones, the former helping reduce Blood stasis, the latter assisting Kidney energy
  • Co-enzyme Q10 helps energy production within your body’s cells, so is yang in effect. Take advice on quantity each day, but I’ve read that research showing its benefits used doses of between 150 and 200 mgs daily.


Quantities to take? Please take advice.

As you read up on these you may notice that D3 and K2 help bone health, which relates to your Kidney energy. There is a hugely important relationship in Chinese medicine between your Heart and your Kidney energies. Something that helps one will help the other.

Of course, in making these suggestions I assume your diet is otherwise sufficiently nutritious, otherwise this site would become a site recommending vitamins and minerals etc.

Treatment for Heart Yang Deficiency

Gentle massage for Heart Yang deficiency
Massage – Photo by Conscious Design
  • Gentle massage suits many. If you haven’t already tried them, what about Reflexology, Head massage, Bowen, Shiatsu, Aromatherapy …?
  • Self-Treatment: regular warmth to encourage your core temperature to increase. How? Take a sauna! Or a hot bath! Stay in it for 20 minutes, as warm as possible, up to three times a week. (Please note! People with very weak hearts should get into a warm bath and add warm to hot water gradually – and make sure someone else is around in case you suddenly get breathless or can’t get out of the bath, etc.) When you emerge, cover up well before you enter any air that is much colder, such as that of a communal changing room. (I’m told that an infrared sauna of 3000nm for 20 minutes is even better and beats an ordinary sauna because it reaches your bones faster! Don’t know. Haven’t tried it.)

General Summary for Heart Yang deficiency

Heart yang deficiency is a deficiency of yang energy (… well … obviously!…) which means anything which increases yang will probably help. This includes:

  • Sun energy in its various forms!

beige sand during sunset

  • Uplifting ideas, hope, humour, warm company (some red wine perhaps?). Things that put you in a good mood!
  • Warmth such as from the sun (or possibly Vitamin D3 – at least 3000 IUs pd)) plus …
  • … direct warmth to your body, such as from a sauna or hot bath
  • Warm activities, like walking quickly – maybe between periods of walking slowly for a while: but you need yang to ‘train’  your heart and fast walking from time to time is excellent for this. Swing your arms, increase breathing speed and off you go – but only one you’ve warmed up a bit by walking less quickly! How many steps? More important is regularity but aim for at least 3000 steps per day.
  • Fish oil is trapped sun energy and oils the joints – and the heart! Eat oily fish regularly and take a supplement, maybe 100mg daily.
  • Co-enzyme Q10 and K2 as explained above.
  • The occasional coffee! (Not decaffeinated!) Caffeine stimulates yang in your body but taken too often goes on to deplete yin which you don’t want.  (No cream or sugar, however!) See our page on coffee. The same goes for dark chocolate.
  • One extra point: if you increase yang you should take care of yin as well. Make sure you take plenty of fluids every day. Could be water, or in the form of fruit or vegetables. And maybe rest more often, especially if tired. These yin activities enable your yang to flourish.
  • And don’t forget Chinese medicine and acupuncture, used for at least 2300 years for many conditions, including Heart Yang deficiency.

What Happens Next if you do nothing?

As Heart Yang draws heavily on Kidney Yang, you may get symptoms of Kidney Yang deficiency. The symptoms of this range from backache to tinnitus, involuntary urination to aching joints, falling hair to forgetfulness – and oedema in your legs. Many are signs of ageing. Look it up!

Because yang deficiency includes Qi deficiency, with your heart being the prime regulator of blood, Heart Yang deficiency when prolonged or severe can lead to Heart Blood stasis.

The main worry here is for your chest and heart organ.

Hence Heart Blood stasis can lead to major and serious circulatory hazards like stroke and myocardial infarction – heart attack.

Jonathan Brand colours

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