Residual Heat in the Diaphragm

Photo by Viviane Okubo on Unsplash

Residual Heat in the Diaphragm is a syndrome in the theory of Chinese medicine.

It relates to an old disease that your body never properly cleared up.

Like a remaining pathogenic factor, or a bandit (see below) it sticks around in the form of what is called Interior Heat, doing you no good.

It can make you feel below par, slightly ill, never on top of your game.

Then one day you realise you’re catching a cold, or similar. Your body wants to generate heat to boil off the bug. But it can’t generate enough heat because half its energy is in the diaphragm. Think of it like this:

Bandit Cowboy Cartoon – copyright Visogero – Dreamstime

Residual Heat in the Diaphragm is the Result of an Old Battle

This interior Heat is left over from a previous battle.

That previous battle occurred when you caught a bug of some kind. You probably had chills and a fever – but mostly a sensation of heat – with thirst.  Read about all the other typical symptoms under Wind-Heat. The disease is often in the form of an upper respiratory tract infection – URTI.

What happened next is that either you never quite got rid of it or, more likely these days, you took anti-inflammatory drugs, probably antibiotics. These may have killed the bug, but the Heat and Energy your body had generated to kill the bug itself wasn’t used as intended. Now it’s sticking around and won’t go away.

Creation of Highwaymen!

In earlier centuries, in Great Britain, if the country needed an army, the government forced men to become soldiers. These men fought and sometimes died as soldiers. So they knew about fighting – but also about some of the less desirable habits that soldiers acquire.

Long before social security and the ‘caring’ state (is there really such a thing?) when the country no longer needed them, it cast them adrift, often with just the clothes they wore. 

Groups of these men, trained to fight and kill, had to fend for themselves. Not surprisingly, not all settled into cosy domestic life, jobs and families.


men's gray pullover hooded jacket
Thief – Photo by Gwendal Cottin

They became bandits, highwaymen, thieves, robbers, roaming the country, causing affrays, disturbing the peace, generally making a nuisance of themselves.

Your body generated and interioralised this Heat to deal with an invader.  Now that Heat is unusable, like these roaming and dangerous itinerants.

This Heat takes up ‘residence’ in the diaphragm, just under your heart. From there, like a bandit, it harasses passing traffic and sends raids into heart and stomach territories.


Bandits steal your energy, like residual heat in the interior
Bandit! – Photo by David Clode on Unsplash

Symptoms of Residual Heat in the Diaphragm

  • Chest feels blocked and full
  • Stomach area, the epigastrium just inferior to your sternum, feels uncomfortable and blocked up
  • Stomach sends up sour burps, belches and regurgitations
  • Sleep is restless with much tossing and turning, often waking during the night, sometimes sweaty
  • You feel anxious, twitchy, fidgety and slightly irritable. Even sitting isn’t comfortable or restful
  • Lying down is uncomfortable, because of the extra pressure or fullness in your chest
  • Tongue: red towards the tip, (reflecting the way the Heart is harried) and points of red in the centre (reflecting the presence in your centre of the un-disciplined bandits)
  • Pulse: deep and a bit fast. (Deep because the Heat has been suppressed to a place deep inside, instead of being put to work to push out the bug you caught, and fast because this is a condition of Heat: an excess condition, stuck deep inside.)


What can You do about Residual Heat in the Diaphragm?

Residual Heat in the Diaphragm is difficult to cure without professional help. This is because the Heat is so far in the Interior and not in your heart, stomach or intestines. Instead, according to Chinese medicine, it lies in your diaphragm.

What you should NOT do is try to clear the Heat by taking lots of cold or chilled food. This may cool your stomach, worsening your digestion and reducing your energy, but it won’t clear this Interior Heat syndrome.

You may come across research that seems to be dealing with symptoms like this residual heat in the diaphragm. Some of it will suggest heavy and repeated doses of strong antibiotics. (Why? Because doctors tend to think that any symptoms of Heat in the body must be from infection.)

Quite apart from the deleterious and usually cooling effects that antibiotics have on your digestion and immune system and the increasing resistance that bugs have to them anyway, it is doubtful if, according the theory of Chinese medicine, such strong antibiotics would be successful.

Even good breathing habits, on their own won’t cure it. They might help the work your acupuncturist does, however.

See a professional acupuncturist or other practitioner of Chinese medicine!

Jonathan Brand colours

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