- Yin deficiency
- stress, overwork, and lack of rest
- chronic worry and anxiety
- Liver fire
To understand the first cause of "Heat in the Heart" is we need to review of the concept of Yin and Yang in Traditional Chinese Medicine.
Since Yang in nature represents activity, light, warmth it logically represents function/warming faculty in the human body. Since Yin in nature represents rest, quiet, slowness, in the human body it translates to structure, substance, matter. In other words Yin represents blood, body fluids and matter, while Yang is the force that gives them live.
There is good health when Yin and Yang are in balance. When there is deficiency of Yang, Yin instantly becomes excessive and vice versa – when there is deficiency of Yin, Yang becomes excessive. Yang deficiency manifests in coldness, lethargy, overflow as there is "deficiency of warmth and energy" which struggles to contain the matter. And vice versa - when there is Yin deficiency the warming principle of the body (Yang) becomes excessive which in time will lead to accumulation of heat. Thus Heart Yin deficiency leads to accumulation of heat.
One cause for the Yin of the Heart to become deficient is the Kidney. The Kidney is the root source of Yin and Yang in the body. Kidney Yin deficiency leads to Yin deficiency in other organs, especially in the Heart as the Heart and the Kidney are in "restricting relationship" (the Water element - the Kidney - extinguishes/restricts the Fire element - the Heart).
Another cause for the Yin of the Heart to become deficient is stress, overwork, and lack of rest.
A major cause for the accumulation of "heat in the Heart" is chronic anxiety. Anxiety in the long run may be so intense on the Heart that it could give rise to what is called “Heart Fire" - severe heat in the Heart.
“Heart fire” may be also transmitted from “Liver Fire” - the Heart is Fire element and the Liver is Wood element so both organs enter a "generating" relationship with the Liver transfering its condition onto the Heart.
If you want to learn more about the Heart and its functions from the perspective of traditional Chinese medicine you can read the material "The Heart in Traditional Chinese Medicine" in the Physiology chapter.
- heart palpitations
- mental restlessness
- insomnia and dream disturbed sleep
- deficiency heat symptoms - anxiety, night sweats, hot palms and soles, dryness
- excess heat symptoms - thirst for icy cold drinks, aversion to heat, redness
- heat transformed into fire - red face, severe mental restlessness, agitation and impulsiveness, mouth and tongue ulcers
General "Yin deficiency" symptoms manifest in minor heat signs such as thirst, night sweats, hot palms and soles, dryness. Symptoms of "Yin deficiency" pertaining specifically to the Heart are heart palpitations (the major symptom of Heart disbalance), mental restlessness (the Heart houses the mind), insomnia and dream disturbed sleep (the Heart is deficient thus the mind has no residence and wanders homeless at night).
General "excess heat" symptoms manifest in major heat signs such as thirst for icy cold drinks, aversion to heat, redness. Symptoms of “Heart Fire” are red face, severe mental restlessness, agitation and impulsiveness, mouth and tongue ulcers (the tongue is the sense organ the Heart opens to). Dark urine, blood in the urine and bitter taste in the mouth (other heat symptoms) might be also present.
To treat heat in the Heart – whether it is “deficiency heat” or “fire” - both the symptom and the cause of disease need to be addressed. To do that the heat in the Heart needs to be cooled down while substance (Yin) needs to be build in order to restrain the excess heat energy. Selecting cooling and “substance building” foods and herbs is the way to approach that disharmony.
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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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