Heart Qi Deficiency

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Pattern factsheet

Chinese name: 心气虚

Pinyin name: Xīn Qì Xū

Associated TCM concepts: Heart Deficiency / Empty Qi

Diagnosis

Common symptoms: Fatigue Pale face Palpitations Spontaneous sweating Shortness of breath on exertion

Pulse type(s): Empty (Xu)

Tongue description: Pale or normal colour; midline crack to tip with swelling on each side in more severe cases

Heart Qi Deficiency includes general signs of Qi deficiency (such as shortness of breath, spontaneous sweating, pale face and fatigue) with the addition of palpitations, which is the characteristic symptom of Heart-Qi deficiency.

"Palpitations" here indicates a subjective feeling of the patient being aware of their heart beating in an uncomfortable way. It has nothing to do with the actual rhythm or pace of the heart. The patient may describe their "palpitations" as their heart beating unusually rapidly but it might just be an impression. Vice versa, someone’s pulse may be actually beating more rapidly than usual but, if they are not aware of it, this symptom would not be defined as "palpitations".

Diagnosing Heart Qi Deficiency

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

Pulse type(s): Empty (Xu)

Tongue description: Pale or normal colour; midline crack to tip with swelling on each side in more severe cases

Possible symptoms: Fatigue Pale face Palpitations Spontaneous sweating Shortness of breath on exertion

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 Qi Deficiency will tend to exhibit empty (Xu) pulses.

Practitioners also learn to read from a long list of seemingly unrelated symptoms. Here patients with Heart Qi Deficiency might experience symptoms like palpitations, shortness of breath on exertion, pale face and spontaneous sweating (full list here above).

Herbal formulas used to treat Heart Qi Deficiency

Bao Yuan Tang

Source date: 1624

Number of ingredients: 4 herbs

Key actions: Tonifies the Qi and warms the Yang.

Formula summary

Bao Yuan Tang is a 4-ingredient Chinese Medicine formula with Milkvetch Roots (Huang Qi) as a principal ingredient. Invented in 1624, it belongs to the category of formulas that tonify Qi.

Read more about Bao Yuan Tang

Diet recommendations

In terms of diet, it is recommended to eat only cooked foods as well as warm or room temperature drinks. Whole grains, protein, legumes (especially aduki beans), lots of vegetables and congee are important. Make sure you eat three meals, or more as needed, per day. Do not skip meals. Avoid raw and cold foods and juices. 

It is important to work on and resolve any emotional issues that might have caused Heart Qi Deficiency, especially sadness and grief. 

Avoid excessive work and excessive sexual activity and get plenty of rest.

Most important herbs used to treat Heart Qi Deficiency