The organs in Chinese medicine are more than just a physical representation. The organs include not only their physiological function but also their mental, emotional, spiritual, and elemental qualities that align with nature and the seasons. Let’s explore the heart and unique perspective Traditional Chinese Medicine can offer.
The heart season is summer, and the heart is considered the most yang: hot, bountiful, and abundant. Yang is what is bright, moving, outward, hot, and loud. Yin is what is more inward, still, dark, and cooler. The color of the heart is associated with red, the climate is heat, the flavor is bitter and its paired organ is the small intestine (many urinary issues are due to “heart fire” heat descending). The sense aligned with the heart is the tongue, and the vessels associated with the heart are the tissues. The heart sound is laughing, and the emotion is joy. The heart houses what is known as the shen, which is the mind and spirit. You can see a person’s shen in a healthy complexion and radiant eyes that are clear and bright. The heart is in charge of circulation and keeps the tissues well nourished. It is also associated with mental clarity, memory, and strength. The motion of this fire element is upward, like a flame. Many who have this element dominant in their personality have red hair that is curly or spikes upward. The heart is also connected to speech. An imbalance in heart energy can result in stuttering, speaking excitedly, or talking excessively.
A balanced heart:
A healthy heart energy exudes a sense of joy, enthusiasm, action, warmth, charisma, and fun. These people are the “life of the party,” and love to have a good time with friends and to be the center of attention. When the heart is balanced, sleep is sound and one is well-rested.
An unbalanced heart:
On the other hand, when there is an overabundance of fire this can result in restlessness, anxiety, sweating, excitability, and symptoms such as palpitations, irregular heartbeat, insomnia, disturbing dreams, mouth sores, thirst, red face, constipation, and dryness. This person might shrink if not in the limelight and would constantly seek attention and need activities that produce a lot of excitement. He or she might have trouble being introspective and could not be alone. “Overjoy” is an imbalance of heart energy and is likened to manic behavior. A dominant fire may also be extremely sensitive to heat. A lack of the fire element, on the other hand, can result in a lusterless complexion, low energy, inertia, depression, feeling cold, low libido and the personality may lack warmth. This type may seem cold, frigid, lack drive, and may be prone to addictions.
How to help your heart stay in balance?
Studies show red foods have been shown to help the heart biochemically; foods such as hawthorn berries, strawberries, cherries, raspberries, tomatoes, watermelon, peppers, and goji berries keep your heart happy with lycopene and anthocyanin, antioxidants, and beneficial vitamins. Other helpful foods include garlic, cayenne, cilantro, basil, magnesium (found in leafy greens, nuts, and soy), and green tea. Also try ginseng, jujube dates, reishi mushrooms, dong quai, seaweed, and schizandra berries. Calming activities such as walking, tai qi, or qi gong help calm the shen.
It is best not to self-diagnose, make sure to seek the guidance of a medical professional to confirm these foods are right for you. You don’t want to assume you have too much of one element and end up eating the wrong foods. A thorough diagnostic evaluation is the best way to get a proper diagnosis. As far as the Five Element theory goes I’d be happy to see which element is dominant in you, and together we can treat your condition with acupuncture, herbs and offer advice for beneficial diet and lifestyle adaptations. If you are looking for heart health remedies, give me a call today.