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HoloSapiens - the TCM "Food as Medicine" Project



Heart Blood Deficinecy


  • general blood deficiency
  • a diet that lacks protein
  • severe bleeding


In traditional Chinese medicine the cause for "Heart blood deficiency" is a general blood deficiency.  Since one of the functions of the Heart is to govern the blood, a general blood deficiency will manifest in the Heart.

There are different causes that lead to blood deficiency. One major cause is a weak Spleen. When the Spleen  is weak it cannot sufficiently perform its transformative function - transforming food into "food essence", Qi and blood. Thus not enough blood is being produced. If this is the case the above blood deficiency symptoms are accompanied with some digestive issues like poor appetite and/or poor digestion. 

A diet which lacks insufficient nourishment and protein is another cause for the blood to become deficient. A third cause for blood deficiency is severe haemorrhage (bleeding).

If you want to learn more about the Heart and its functions from the perspective of traditional Chinese medicine go to "The Heart in Traditional Chinese Medicine" in the Physiology chapter.




Heart Blood Deficiency   Symptoms


  • nervousness
  • anxiety
  • insomnia
  • dream-disturbed sleep
  • poor memory
  • heart palpitations
  • dizziness
  • paleness


The Heart houses the mind. Thus “depleted Heart blood” will lead to an unstable spirit as the house of the spirit is now fragile. Therefore the majority of the Heart blood deficiency symptoms are spirit related.  Such are nervousness, anxiety, insomnia, dream-disturbed sleep, poor memory. In addition there could be heart palpitations - the main symptom that manifests when the Heart is in disharmony. Dizziness is a general blood deficiency symptom (not enough blood to nourish the brain). Paleness is another general blood deficiency symptom. Paleness on the face, lips and/or tongue confirm that one is blood deficient. (1)




In order to treat Heart blood deficiency blood in general needs to be tonified. As the Liver, which stores blood, may also become blood deficient, the treatment principle for tonifying Heart blood is similar to the treatment principle for tonifying Liver blood.

A great way to tonify Heart blood is by adding blood tonifying foods to the diet.


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(1) Maciocia, Giovanni (1989). The Foundations of Chinese Medicine. Nanjing: Harcourt Publishers Limited

(2) Pitchford, Paul (2002). Healing with Whole Foods. Berkeley: North Atlantic Books


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