Heart Blood Stagnation

At a glance

Key attributes

Chinese name: 心血阻滞      Pinyin name: Xīn Xuè Zǔ Zhì

Pattern nature: Full/Empty

Pattern hierarchy: Specific pattern under Blood Stagnation

Common combinations: Heart Vessel obstructed

Causes

Precursor patterns: Liver Qi Stagnation Heart Yang Deficiency Heart Yang Collapsing and one other possible precursors

Common causes: Emotional stress

Diagnosis

Common symptoms: Chest constriction Stabbing chest pain Feeling of oppression of the chest

Pulse type(s): Knotted (Jie)

Tongue description: Purple entirely or just on the side

Treatment

Treatment principle: Move Blood, eliminate stagnation, tonify and warm Heart Yang, calm the Mind

Common formulas: Xue Fu Zhu Yu Tang

Pathology

It is characterized by symptoms such as palpitations, chest pressure and stiffness as well as sharp stabbing pain in the chest, which can spread to the inner area of the left arm or to the shoulder. Since the Blood doesn't flow smoothly, it reflected by the purple or dark color on lips, face, tongue and nails. 

The Stagnant Blood also blocks the Gathering Qi flow in the chest, which then fails to move Lung and Heart Qi to the hands, hence the symptoms of cold hands.

This is a severe pattern that mostly derives from other Heart patterns, normally Heart Yang or Blood Deficiency, or Heart Qi Stagnation. Other than these, Heart Fire or Heart Qi Deficiency can also be the precursors. The symptoms and signs will vary depending on the origin of the pattern.

If it is due to the Heart Yang or Blood Deficiency, it causes chest pain which feels like a constriction. The intensity of the pain varies from a mild pricking sensation to an intense stabbing pain. The pain typically comes in repeated bouts and is elicited by exertion or cold weather.

Causes

Precursor patterns: Heart Blood Stagnation can derive from Liver Qi Stagnation Heart Yang Deficiency Heart Yang Collapsing Heart Qi Stagnation

Emotional stress: Prolonged emotional stress such as grief, worry, or anxiety are ultimately the cause since they harm the Heart's functions of controlling Blood and Blood vessels. It eventually leads to the patterns that are precursors to Heart Blood Stagnation. Since the Heart house the Mind (Shen), this may become a self-reinforcing loop since a disturbed Mind may in turn cause emotional stress.

Diagnosing Heart Blood Stagnation

Pulse type(s): Knotted (Jie)

Tongue description: Purple entirely or just on the side

Main symptoms: Chest constriction Stabbing chest pain Feeling of oppression of the chest

Diagnosis commentary: The key characteristic symptoms of this pattern are the stabbing pain in the chest, purple lips and purple tongue.  Chest pain is the key symptom of this pattern, which only occurs to this pattern and to Heart vessel obstructed.

Treating Heart Blood Stagnation

Treatment principle

Move Blood, eliminate stagnation, tonify and warm Heart Yang, calm the Mind 

Herbal formulas used to treat Heart Blood Stagnation

Xue Fu Zhu Yu Tang

Source date: 1830 AD

Number of ingredients: 11 herbs

Key actions: Invigorates the Blood. Dispels blood Stagnation. Spreads the Liver Qi. Unblocks the channels.

Formula summary

Xue Fu Zhu Yu Tang is a 11-ingredient Chinese Medicine formula. Invented in 1830 AD, it belongs to the category of formulas that invigorate Blood and dispel Blood Stagnation.

Besides Heart Blood Stagnation, Xue Fu Zhu Yu Tang is also used to treat Heart Vessel obstructed or Qi And Blood Stagnation.

Read more about Xue Fu Zhu Yu Tang

Diet recommendations

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

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

White Peony Roots (Bai Shao) is the key herb for Xiao Tiao Jing Tang, a formula used for postpartum depression caused by Heart Blood Stagnation

Typical symptoms for postpartum depression caused by Heart Blood Stagnation: Mania Delusions Aggressiveness Hallucinations Suicidal thoughts Destructive thoughts Blaming oneself and others Lack of bonding with the newborn

Recommended herbal formula: Xiao Tiao Jing Tang

Heart Blood Stagnation is the most severe pattern causing postpartum depression. The Stagnant Heart Blood troubles and obstructs the Mind (which is housed in the Heart) so much that the mother become aggressive, obsessive, neurotic, phobic and/or psychotic. In some rare cases they can even develop a form of schizophrenia. They can be not only depressed but also have delusions and hallucinations as well as suicidal thoughts and dangerous ideas toward their newborn. 

As for treatment principles,...Read more about postpartum depression

Consequence patterns

Phlegm

Both Blood and Phlegm are types of Body Fluids and they have direct influence over each other. Heart Blood Stagnation can lead to the formation of Phlegm. 

Dryness

Prolonged Blood Stagnation can cause Dryness, especially among the elderly.