Causes for Heart Yin and Blood Deficiency
All emotions potentially affect the Heart energy and strong emotions even more so.Long term fear, worry, grief, and anxiety erode heart Yin and Blood.
Instant shock such as bad news or a sudden loss, as when a relationship breaks up (especially if it’s you who receives the unwelcome news) can ‘break the heart’: or so it feels. Anger affects the Liver more than the Heart, but bitterness remaining after anger affects the Heart.
A loss or hemorrhage of blood depletes Blood throughout the body including Heart Blood. The faster it happens, the more obvious the signs, but anyone who has a steady, small, perhaps unnoticed, hemorrhage will eventually be affected.
Such losses might be in the bowels or small intestine, or from taking a drug which diminishes or prevents blood clotting.
Blood losses from heavy periods, surgery, wounds, and during childbirth can all lead to Heart Blood deficiency – often a major contributor to post-natal depression.
Poor food choices or poor eating habits and/or inability to absorb the nutritive benefit of food because of a weak digestion(Spleen Qi deficiency) means poorly nourished blood and potentially causing Heart Blood deficiency.
As we age, our ability to absorb what we need from food often diminishes. For example, our level of vitamin B12 declines, leading to many problems some of which can be described by Heart Blood deficiency.
Excessive exercise or physical work will weaken digestive strength and can eventually contribute to exhaustion of the blood in general and of Heart blood.
Some athletes, mainly women, but also men who have over-strained their bodies, may find they get some of the symptoms of this syndrome, with or without a western diagnosis ofanemia.
Women with Heart Blood deficiency from over exertion would probably find their periods diminishing in volume.Men might not be aware of their Blood deficiency, just aware that they start getting mild palpitations and some of the other symptoms listed below such as breathlessness.
Symptoms of Heart Yin and Blood Deficiency
Since the Heart in Chinese medicine perspective is responsible for the mind, depleted Heart Yin and Blood will lead to an unstable spirit. Therefore the majority of the Heart blood deficiency symptoms are spirit related. Such are confusion, nervousness, anxiety, depression, easily startled, insomnia, dream-disturbed sleep, poor memory, loss of libido. 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, breathlessness and cold hands are other general blood deficiency symptom. Paleness on the face, lips and/or tongue confirm that one is blood deficient. In women, scanty menses, possibly amenorrhea (no periods) and infertility on behalf blood deficiency and disturbed spirit.
First Steps to Overcome Heart Yin and Blood Deficiency
Accept calm support and encouragement
Add blood tonifying foods to the diet
Exercise appropriately to your health condition, fitness and limitations
Get enough sleep
Nurture good relationships
A steady and fulfilling work
Cultivate an optimistic outlook
Heart Yin and Blood Tonifying Nutrition
Red meat, eggs and animal organs are great for tonifying the blood. Chinese believe that one way to nourish an organ is to eat the same organ of an animal. To nourish the Heart, especially to build Heart blood, it would be of great benefit to eat animal heart, such as chicken hearts. The chicken hearts are simmered over medium heat for about an hour or until they become soft and pleasant to chew. Then some salt and butter is added to give them flavor. Liver is also a great blood tonic. Since Liver stores blood not only in people but also in animals, consuming it as a food makes it a beneficial ingredient to tonify overall blood deficiency.
Milk and Dairy
Quality cow and goat milk and clarified butter (ghee) nourish the yin of the heart for those who can tolerate these foods. For insomnia the best way to take milk is the classic folk remedy prescription, drinking it warm before bed.
Grains such as whole wheat, wheat germ, brown rice, and oats gently but profoundly calm the mind.
Wheat is one of the few foods which Chinese medicine attributes with directly nourishing the heart-mind; calms and focuses the mind and can be used for treating palpitations, insomnia, irritability, menopausal difficulty and emotional instability.
Blood tonifying vegetables are spinach and nettle (the nettle may be cooked just like spinach but if the local culture does not consume nettle in a meal it may be treated as an herb and taken in a tea). As both spinach and nettle are rich in iron some lemon can be squeezed in the meal or tea, as iron needs Vitamin C in to be absorbed. Other tonifying vegetables are beets, carrots, and broccoli,
Fruits that tonify Heart blood are dark colored fruits, rich in chlorophyll such as raspberries, blackberries, huckleberries, dark grapes, dates and red cherries. Goji berries and mulberries are great to tonify yin and blood generally in the body and can also be used.
Herbs which specifically enrich Yin and Blood and can support the Heart include: Dang Gui root (angelica Sinensis), Sheng Di Huang (raw Rehmannia root) ShuDi Huang (processed Rehmannia root) and Dan Shen (red sage root). SuanZaoRen (jujube seeds) are a widely used Chinese herbal remedy for calming the spirit, they are thought to directly nourish the heart.
Great blood tonic supplementation is the sweet water algae Spirulina. It is highly nutritive and nourishing, builds and enriches the blood.
Other foods and herbs that nourish Heart Yin and Blood and can reduce nervousness, treat insomnia, and improve mental focusing by quieting the spirit:
Oyster shell- is excellent for building the Yin of the heart.
Mushrooms: nearly every form of these fungi have cerebral effects. WolfiporiaExtensa (Mandarin: Fu ling/FuShen) one of the most common Chinese “herbs”, is used to settle the nerves and improve fluids balance. Ling Zhi mushroom of China (Reishi in Japan), is widely available in the west as an immune tonic, directly nurtures the heart, soothes the spirit, and calms the mind.
Silicon foods: Oats straw tea, barley gruel, oat groat tea, cucumber, celery, lettuce, and celery/lettuce juice. Silicon foods improve calcium metabolism and strengthen nerve and heart tissue.
Mulberries and lemons calms the mind (mulberries have stronger effect). Dill and basil can be used in both food and tea for their calming effect.
Regular use of rose hips, chamomile, catnip, Skullcap or valerian is helpful for the nervous person or insomniac.
Warming substances which deplete the Yin should be avoided: coffee, alcohol, tobacco, and too much hot spices. Also avoid overeating and late night eating.
Heart Fire Blazing
Signs and symptoms
Mouth and tongue ulcers
Sensation of heat in the chest area
Mental restlessness, agitation, impulsiveness, insomnia, and dream disturbed sleep
Blood in the urine or dark urine
Bitter taste in the mouth
Thirst and a sensation of heat