Heart Blood Deficiency

TCM Education Center > Patterns of disharmony > Heart Blood Deficiency

Pattern factsheet

Chinese name: 心血虚

Pinyin name: Xīn Xuè Xū

Associated TCM concepts: Heart Blood Deficiency / Empty

Related conditions: Postpartum depression

Diagnosis

Common symptoms: Anxiety Fatigue Insomnia Dizziness Pale face and nine other symptoms

Pulse type(s): Choppy (Se), Fine (Xi)

Tongue color: Pale

Tongue shape: Thin

Heart Blood Deficiency hurts the Mind (神 Shen) which resides in the Heart. Therefore, it causes symptoms such as insomnia, dream-disturbed sleep, anxiety, poor memory and tendency to be scared. Another typical symptom is palpitation due to Heart Qi Deficiency which is a result of Heart Blood Deficiency. Blood is the mother of Qi. Dizziness is also a symptom because not sufficient Blood is able to nourish the brain. This pattern is manifested by a pale face, pale lips and a pale tongue due to lack of Blood supply. Heart Blood Deficiency may eventually cause Heart Yin Deficiency because Blood is a Yin element. 

This pattern can be caused by a diet that is not rich in nourishment or in Blood-producing foods such as meat. It can also be a result of Spleen Qi Deficiency, because Food Qi (Gu Qi) produced by the Spleen is the origin of Blood.Other causes include long-term anxiety and worry which disturb the Mind and suppress the Heart function of governing Blood, a severe loss of blood such as hemorrhaging during childbirth and excessive long-term studying. 

Diagnosing Heart Blood Deficiency

The Heart is a so-called "Zang" Organ. Learn more about the Heart in Chinese Medicine

Pulse type(s): Choppy (Se) or fine (Xi)

Tongue color: Pale

Tongue shape: Thin

Possible symptoms: Anxiety Fatigue Insomnia Dizziness Pale face Pale lips Poor memory Tearfulness Palpitations Restlessness Easily scared Loss of libido Feeling of guilt Dream disturbed sleep

Diagnosing a pattern in Chinese Medicine is no easy feat and should be left to professional practitioners.

In particular one has to know how to differentiate between different types of pulses and tongue coatings, shapes and colors. Here patients with Heart Blood Deficiency will tend to exhibit choppy (Se) or fine (Xi) pulses as well as a pale tongue.

Practitioners also learn to read from a long list of seemingly unrelated symptoms. Here patients with Heart Blood Deficiency might experience symptoms like palpitations, insomnia, poor memory and dream disturbed sleep (full list here above).

Herbal formulas used to treat Heart Blood Deficiency

Si Wu Tang

Source date: 846 AD

Number of ingredients: 4 herbs

Key actions: Restores and nourishes Blood. Stimulates Blood circulation.

Formula summary

Si Wu Tang is a 4-ingredient Chinese Medicine formula with Prepared Rehmannia (Shu Di huang) and White Peony Roots (Bai Shao) as principal ingredients. Invented in 846 AD, it belongs to the category of formulas that tonify Blood.

Besides Heart Blood Deficiency, Si Wu Tang is also used to treat Blood Deficiency or Blood Stagnation.

Read more about Si Wu Tang

Gui Pi Tang

Source date: 1529 AD

Number of ingredients: 12 herbs

Key actions: Tonifies and nourish Qi and Blood. Tonifies Heart and Spleen.

Formula summary

Gui Pi Tang is a 12-ingredient Chinese Medicine formula with Ginseng (Ren Shen), Milkvetch Roots (Huang Qi), Atractylodes Rhizomes (Bai Zhu) and Liquorice (Gan Cao) as principal ingredients. Invented in 1529 AD, it belongs to the category of formulas that tonify Qi and Blood.

Besides Heart Blood Deficiency, Gui Pi Tang is also used to treat Qi Deficiency or Blood Deficiency.

Read more about Gui Pi Tang

Diet recommendations

Eat a balanced diet including lamb, Dang Gui and ginger soup, bone marrow soup, milk, black and adzuki beans, congee. Eat only cooked foods; do not skip meals.

Special highlight: the link between postpartum depression and Heart Blood Deficiency

Ginseng (Ren Shen) is the key herb for Gui Pi Tang, a formula used for postpartum depression caused by Heart Blood Deficiency

Typical symptoms for postpartum depression caused by Heart Blood Deficiency: Fatigue Anxiety Insomnia Tearfulness Poor memory Palpitations Loss of libido Feeling of guilt

Recommended herbal formula: Gui Pi Tang

The most common reason for a new mother to contract Blood Deficiency is when she experienced a large blood-loss during childbirth. That being said, some women have pre-existing Blood Deficiency which can worsen postpartum even though they didn't lose a large amount of blood when giving birth.

The Heart is the most affected Organ by a general Blood Deficiency because it governs the Blood. The Mind, which is housed in the Heart, gets weakened and lose stability as a consequence of Heart Blood...Read more about postpartum depression

Most important herbs used to treat Heart Blood Deficiency