The Role of the Heart in Traditional Chinese Medicine

Most people would agree that the heart is the organ most closely associated with emotion. A lot of the terms we use every day describe love, betrayal or something deeply intimate often involves using the word heart (heartache, heartbroken, heartsick, etc.). The heart is the emotion that usually encompasses the far end of the spectrum, either extreme joy or extreme sadness.

In Encino traditional Chinese medicine , the heart’s physical function is almost similar to what we know it to be in Western medicine. This organ controls the sweat and the blood vessels. Sweating profusely is an indication that the heart needs to be supported and built up (tonified). The heart also has an effect on speech and controls the tongue. Speech difficulties, loss of words, and stuttering can lead to a deficiency of the heart.

However, the main function of the heart is controlling the Shen and housing the mind. The overall well-being of the mind is in seen in “Shen.” When you observe a healthy good-spirited person, you know how you can observe that in his/her eyes. His/her eyes have a sense of health that shines from within and has a certain lucid clarity. We TCM practitioners would agree that that person has good Shen.

In certain individuals, you may notice their eyes seemed to be constantly wandering around. Their eyes seemed to shift side to side, or perhaps they may seem dull and cloudy, as if they were not really in the present moment. This indicates poor shen. This shen disturbance can be can be caused by mild distraction and if the disturbance is quite severe may indicate a sign of mental instability, occasionally, mild distraction or depression bring about this shen disturbance.

The heart can both be the victim and the cause of extreme joy. We think that extreme joy seems beneficial but when you suffer from ADHD or manic depression, the extreme use of this treatment good may seem like a positive thing

According to my professors, the heart’s main job is to preserve the proper timing in life. A person wearing a b bathing suit he used an example. If the person wears the suit to swim in the pool in summer, her heart was doing its job. But if she wears the bathing suit at a business meeting, this means that her heart was not giving her the chance to make the appropriate choice based on the appropriate circumstances.

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