Heart Yin Deficiency with Empty Heat

Photo by Steve Halama on Unsplash

Key Learning Points

  • Heart Yin deficiency with Empty Heat occurs only after many other problems
  • Although it produces signs of Heat (empty Heat) it comes from Yin deficiency
  • Clearing the ‘heat’ with antibiotics or anti-inflammatory medicine doesn’t work
  • To heal this you HAVE to strengthen Yin, and show the patient how to help herself


Heart Yin Deficiency with Empty Heat is a further step down an incline that began with Heart Blood deficiency and Heart Yin deficiency, both of which you may wish to read about first.

With people you see regularly, such as co-workers, you can probably just about hide symptoms of Heart Yin deficiency.

danimages – fotolia


But with the additional factor of Empty Heat you’ll almost certainly attract comment, because mental and emotional factors change your behaviour.

Of course, you may think that it’s not you being difficult – just everyone else! – but if you look at your physical symptoms you’ll realise that a gradual change is taking place over which you have little control.

For women this often occurs at an important time in their lives and their careers, when they may have reached or are pushing up towards positions of seniority and responsibility.

Suddenly, it seems, their bodies let them down, with poor sleep, unaccountable anxiety, or anxiety which is all too accountable in terms of their jobs, with palpitations and, often, the onset of menopause.

It’s a cruel twist that nature plays.

However, Chinese medicine does recognize it as a syndrome that it can treat. Although its explanation doesn’t make much sense to orthodox medicine, it will make sense to you when you understand it.

Understanding it is the first step towards treating it, and Chinese medicine has had several thousand years of doing that! So please read on with hope.

Causes of Heart Yin Deficiency with Empty Heat

Causes of Heart Yin deficiency include

  1. Years of emotional problems. Often these include frustration, fear and anxiety (either at home or at work). These tensions prompted my book: “Qi Stagnation – Signs of Stress“.
  2. Overwork: not just overwork, but constant activity – always working, always playing, always on the go. The overwork is more likely to be mental but it can be physical.
  3. The menopause
  4. In old people their bodies become less efficient and their Yin resources decrease making them look dried out. 
  5. Severe over-heating, perhaps from a fever or a dry, hot climate from which there is no respite. 


Now add one or more of the following:

  • Craving for someone, or for success, or for something special
  • Jealousy
  • Obsessive love
  • Shock
  • Hatred
  • More fear and anxiety
  • More over-activity


Then you have the ingredients for Heart Yin deficiency with Empty Heat. Many of the symptoms are shared with Heart Yin deficiency, but worse. 

Mental Symptoms of Heart Yin Deficiency
with Empty Heat

  • Severe mental restlessness: this is both cause and effect of Empty Yin states, so can become a vicious circle culminating in Heart Yin Deficiency with Empty Heat.
  • Mental restlessness now includes medium or severe anxiety: this leads on into obsession. Very physically restless too, always making plans and never able to sit still and calmly consider circumstances. Easily startled.
  • Impatience: sometimes aggression: it’s hard to work with people like this because they often don’t think they’re being difficult. Of course, the more self-aware they become, they more guilty they feel. Guilt, if it becomes something else to worry about, exacerbates the syndrome. 
  • Worries more as the evening develops
  • Concentration and memory deteriorate further

Physical Symptoms of Heart Yin Deficiency with Empty Heat

  • Heat symptoms: not just in the evening. Always feeling hot and bothered. Usually the palms, soles and chest feel hot. Often the armpits sweat more than usual.
  • Insomnia: worsens – harder to get to sleep and harder to enter deep sleep. 
  • Many disturbing dreams, sometimes of endless laughing, or of burning and fires.


Photo by Tristan Billet on Unsplash
  • Drenching sweats at night
  • Palpitations: stronger than before and sometimes felt below the heart in the epigastrium – the abdominal region above the belly-button. Palpitations means a ‘subjective feeling in your chest of the heart beating in an uncomfortable way’. It could include, for example, atrial fibrillation or ectopic heartbeats.
  • Dry mouth and throat: very dry, with desire to cool and moisturise them all the time. Always sipping from a water bottle, or may like sucking on a piece of ice. 
  • Cheeks have a highlighted pink area over the bones: this is called a malar flush. Blushing may be easy, perhaps when excited or anxious. Also the skin in the throat area may be red. 
  • Eye redness: the whites of the eye may be red, or red round the inner canthus or stretching from the inner side of the eye towards the pupil.
  • Menses: either the periods are very sparse, or there is sudden flooding or a constant trickle between periods. The blood is watery but fresh-red coloured. Alternatively, the periods may seem to stop completely. 
  • Energy: bursts of energy (and emotion) but it soon runs out, especially in the evening. 

Tongue and Pulse help to confirm Heart Yin Deficiency with Empty Heat

  • Tongue: red and looks as if peeled (ie like raw meat), without a coating. Very often has a mid-line crack reaching the tip. Tongue may be sore or itchy, and is often swollen or redder at the tip or has red points at the tip. Sometimes there are ulcers with white rims. 
  • Pulse: floating (so is easily felt just under the skin) and empty (so may feel big and powerful when first pressed, but caves in on increased pressure to reveal nothing behind – like the stem of an onion.) Alternatively it may be what is called ‘fine’ or ‘thready’: having no breadth, like a thin line, an indicator of Blood or Yin deficiency. It is often rapid. This rapidity is not caused by a fever from an infection, as your doctor may at first suspect. It is caused by normal Yang energy being uncontrolled by Yin energy, because Yin is deficient. Without Yin to balance it, Yang just runs faster.

Treatment of Heart Yin Deficiency with Empty Heat

Taking an antibiotic or anti-inflammatory as your doctor may suggest on the strength of the rapid pulse, your feeling of heat, your dry, inflamed throat, your sweats etc, may quell the inflammation but definitely won’t solve the problem.

This Heart Yin Deficiency with Empty Heat syndrome can also be one of the bases for suspecting hyper-thyroidism. Eventually, if your thyroid gives up, you can become hypo-thyroid, when you’ll get symptoms even more confusing, veering between energy and depression.

Even using acupuncture to calm or disperse excess Yang won’t work: indeed it would probably make you feel even less energetic.

The correct treatment, tried and tested over several thousand years, is to strengthen your Yin energy. However, your acupuncturist may need to use points to calm the Mind, steady the Heart, and deal with emotional imbalances.

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Acupuncture Points for Heart Yin Deficiency with Empty Heat 

might include the following, though we don’t suggest you try to treat yourself as you may not be objective.

Instead, see a qualified acupuncturist! :

  • KI-2, to clear empty Heat;
  • Liv-3, to spread Liver Qi and nourish Liver Blood;
  • KI-6 to nourish Yin;
  • St-36 and Sp-6 to nourish Qi and Blood;
  • He-7 to nourish Heart:
  • He-6 to strengthen Heart Yin;
  • P-6 to regulate the Heart and steady the Mind;
  • Ren 14 and Ren 15 to steady the Heart;
  • Ren-4 to strengthen Yin.
  • In cases of severe deficiency Yin-Heat, points to cool Blood might include Sp-10 and LI-11. Points to raise or steady the Spirit might also be used such as Shenfeng, Ki-23 and Shentang Bl-44.


Please note! There are other, powerful, ways to treat this syndrome with acupuncture. For example, Japanese acupuncture might approach it in a very different way, though no less effective.

In any case, over-using acupuncture points is not advisable. 

I strongly recommend seeking professional help for this.


Frequency of treatments for Heart Yin Deficiency with Empty Heat

To start with, a little treatment (and not using all the points mentioned above at the same treatment) – done frequently will produce faster results.

As you improve, more powerful acupuncture can be used, with more points, but always depending on how you appear from your acupuncturist’s point of view before treatment. For your acupuncturist, it is best to alternate points and not to re-use the same acupuncture point at each treatment.


What Can You Do to Help Yourself?

See suggestions in the lower half of the page here.

For other syndromes of the Heart, click on the links below:

Click to return to Acupuncture and Anxiety from this page on Heart Yin Deficiency with Empty Heat.

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