The Heart contains the Mind and is the Emperor of the body, ruling 5 Yin organs and 6 Yang organs. The main functions of the heart are to control the blood and empower the Shen/mind.
The Heart governs Blood
- The heart is responsible for Food Qi transforming into Blood.
- In Chinese Medicine, blood circulation is the main duty of the Heart, but other organs aid blood circulation; such as the Lungs, Spleen and Liver.
Blood nourishes body tissues, so if the heart were to malfunction, the hands would turn cold due to poor circulation. The Essence and the Kidney make up the body’s structure, however the Heart and the Blood determine the strength of the structure. The Heart must be strong to have proper circulation, otherwise the body will lack in strength and power. Sometimes Heart weakness is displayed with a deep crack in the middle of the tongue or a weak pulse in the Heart and the Kidneys.
In Chinese Medicine, Blood is governed by the Heart, stored by the Liver and made by the Kidneys. The Liver- Blood maintains menstruation patterns, but the Heart-Blood controls the movement downwards of the Qi and Blood.
The face will be rosy when blood is abundant, but in deficiency the face will be pale and darker in stagnation. The appearance of the face can determine the state of many organs; for instance, excessively red faces can denote Heart- Heat, but it could also show Lung-Heat or Liver Heat.
The Blood Vessels
The Heart Qi and Blood determine the regularity of the blood vessels by providing full pulse. If Blood has slowed down in circulation or stops, blood vessels become hard causing arteriosclerosis.
Blood Vessels shows the energetic levels of layers within the body in this list denoted by depth:
- Superficial layer: Skin(Lungs)
- Superficial layer: Muscles(Spleen)
- Middle layer: Sinews(Liver)
- Middle layer: Blood Vessels(Heart)
- Deep layer: Bones(Kidneys)
These energetic layers are used in defining Painful Obstruction Syndrome (Bi) and pulse diagnosis, where the relationship of each of the five levels is analyzed.
Shen: The Mind Within the Heart
The Mind/Shen resides in the Heart, empowering the mental or spiritual well being of all organs.
The functionality of the Heart determines the state of mind, including the emotional state, mental consciousness and clear cognition. The Heart depends on the mind and the mind depends on the heart through a relation of blood, making the heart ‘the root of life.
Healthy hearts improve the connections people make with others and increase a happy feeling within the body. By contrast, a weak heart insights sadness or depression.
The physical and emotional levels are linked together, the mind will be happy if the physical form of Essence and Qi are functioning properly and vise versa.
The Five Spiritual Aspects
The Heart is connected to the other organs spiritually, specifically the Yin organs and all of them work together to maintain the emotions and balance of the body. The Five Shen include:
• Mind (Shen) – Heart: The root of life; consciousness and memory/ sleep • Ethereal Soul (Hun) – Liver: The root of harmonization and Ethereal Soul; life aims and travel of Shen • Corporeal Soul (Po) – Lungs: The root of Qi and Corporal Soul; sensations and travel of Jing • Intellect (Yi) – Spleen: The root of memory; thinking memory and concentration • Will-power (Zhi) – Kidney: The root of storage; willpower and determination
The Mind transforms the Essence and the Qi
The connections of the mind, body and spirit are what forms the Five Spiritual Aspects, or the Five Shen, where the Yin organs reside. The Corporal Soul enters the body at birth and the Ethereal Soul is lasting even after death. Shen relates to the shine in appearance and spirit.
In the Ming Dynasty a parallel theory surfaced about the connection of the mind with the brain, transforming clear essence into bone marrow.
Joy doesn’t cause disease, it improves mental and organ health. However, an excessive feeling of joy or craving for it pains the heart because of the over-stimulation. Certain over-stimulation can cause diseases, such as from drugs, consumerism and alcohol. Minister Fire goes to the Shen and makes the heart larger; it produces unstable palpitations, restlessness and can be seen on the tongue. Sudden bursts of joy could trigger a shock or heart attack.
Tongue: The Branch of the Heart
The appearance of the tongue signifies the state of the Heart. In Heart-heat, the tongue is dry, swollen and red; in intense cases painful ulcers may start to surface. A Weak-Heart could cause the tongue to appear pale and thin.
The Heart Controls Sweat
Sweat comes from the fluids between the muscles and the skin. Blood is regulated by the body fluids that thin it down. The lack of Heart-Qi initiates immediate sweating, so one should tonify the Heart-Yin; lack of Heart-Yin causes night sweats, so the Heart-Yang should be tonified. The Heart-Yang is in danger when excessive amounts of sweating occurs, so in case of haemorrhaging, excessive sweating, drying herbs and the bleeding technique in acupuncture should be avoided. A vigorous loss of sweat displays a loss of body fluids and blood; it is also linked with the heat of Lung-Qi, damp heat of the Stomach and emotional tension of the Heart.
The Heart in Senses
A burnt smell comes from disharmony within the Heart. The color of the Heart is red from the facial complexion in heat of the heart or other organs in the system. The element associated with the heart is the bitter taste; at night it pertains to Heart-Heat, whereas bitter tastes during the day are associated with Liver-Fire. The sound that comes from the heart is laughter, when a person experiences bursts of laughter, it indicates heart disharmony. The climate of the heart is Heat; External heat attacks the Pericardium causing fevers, hysteria and sometimes even aphasia. Heat also attacks the Heart because of the excessive sweating that may weaken the Heart Yang. Imbalance of the Heart causes a person to talk incessantly or laugh inappropriately.
The Heart contains the mind, so it’s directly correlated with the dreams and sleep. People with strong Heart- blood are able to sleep faster. In excess the Heart causes joy in dreams, in weakness fire and in deficiency one dreams of mountains, smoke and fire.