Heart Yang Deficiency

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At a glance

Key attributes

Chinese name: 心阳虚      Pinyin name: Xīn Yáng Xū

Pattern nature: Empty

Pattern hierarchy: Specific pattern under Yang Deficiency

Causes

Precursor patterns: Kidney Yang Deficiency Heart Qi Deficiency Stomach Deficient and Cold

Common causes: 1. Excessive emotions, 2. Blood loss

Diagnosis

Common symptoms: Fatigue Cold hands Palpitations Feeling of cold Bright-pale face and four other symptoms

Pulse type(s): Deep (Chen), Knotted (Jie), Weak (Ruo)

Tongue description: Pale, slightly wet, sometimes swollen

Treatment

Pathology

Some of the symptoms are the same as for Heart Qi Deficiency (palpitations, shortness of breath, fatigue, sweating and pale face): this is because Heart Qi Deficiency could be considered as included within Heart Yang deficiency. In other words, it is not possible to have a Deficiency of Yang without a Deficiency of Qi.

Feelings of cold and cold hands are due to Heart Yang not transporting Blood to the extremities to warm them. The slight feeling of stuffiness in the heart region is due to Heart-Yang not moving Qi in the chest and hence leading to a slight Qi Stagnation in the chest.

The bright-pale face is typical of Yang Deficiency (in Blood Deficiency the face would be dull-pale). The lips are slightly dark because deficient Heart Yang fails to move Qi and Blood and this may cause a slight Blood Stasis. Please note that this sign would appear only in severe and advanced cases of Heart Yang Deficiency.

The tongue is Pale because Heart-Yang cannot transport enough Blood to it, and it is slightly wet because Heart-Yang cannot transform the Fluids, which therefore accumulate on the tongue.

Causes

Precursor patterns: Heart Yang Deficiency can derive from Kidney Yang Deficiency Heart Qi Deficiency Stomach Deficient and Cold

Excessive emotions: Excessive or prolonged emotions, particularly sadness or grief.

Blood loss: Sudden blood loss (from a traumatic injury for instance) or chronic blood loss from a health condition such as menorrhagia.

Diagnosing Heart Yang Deficiency

Pulse type(s): Deep (Chen), knotted (Jie) or weak (Ruo)

Tongue description: Pale, slightly wet, sometimes swollen

Main symptoms: Fatigue Cold hands Palpitations Feeling of cold Bright-pale face Slightly dark lips Spontaneous sweating Shortness of breath on exertion Slight feeling of stuffiness in the heart

Diagnosis commentary: The pulse is normally Deep-Weak but it can be Knotted in severe cases. The key characteristic symptoms here are the palpitations, the cold hands and the Deep-Weak pulse.

Treating Heart Yang Deficiency

Herbal formulas used to treat Heart Yang Deficiency

Gui Zhi Jia Long Gu Mu Li Tang

Source date: 220 AD

Number of ingredients: 7 herbs

Key actions: Rectifies relationship between Yin and Yang. Harmonizes Heart and Kidney. Stabilizes and secures Essence.

Formula summary

Gui Zhi Jia Long Gu Mu Li Tang is a 7-ingredient Chinese Medicine formula. Invented in 220 AD, it belongs to the category of formulas that tonify Yin and Yang.

Read more about Gui Zhi Jia Long Gu Mu Li Tang

Diet recommendations

In terms of diet it is essential to only eat cooked foods and warm drinks. Lamb and beef are beneficial as are spicy foods. Avoid cold, refrigerated, raw and iced drinks and foods, including salads. Do not skip meals.

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.

Consequence patterns

Heart Blood Stagnation

Deficient Heart-Yang fails to move Qi in the chest. This may lead first to Heart-Qi stagnation and then to Heart-Blood Stasis (since Qi moves Blood). This pattern is clinically important because it is involved in Western medical diseases such as angina pectoris and coronary heart disease.

Kidney Yang Deficiency with Water overflowing

If Water also overflows to the Heart (which can be seen if the patient suffers from palpitations, breathlessness and cold hands), Heart Yang Deficiency may be the cause behind Kidney Yang Deficiency with Water overflowing.