Liver and Heart Blood Deficiency

At a glance

Key attributes

Chinese name: 心肝血虚      Pinyin name: Xīn Gān Xuè Xū

Pattern nature: Empty combined pattern

Pattern(s) it combines from: Liver Blood Deficiency Heart Blood Deficiency

Causes

Precursor patterns: Liver Blood Deficiency Kidney Qi not Firm Kidney Qi Deficiency

Common causes: 1. Emotional stress, 2. Diet lacking in Blood-nourishing foods, 3. Excessive physical activity, 4. Blood loss

Diagnosis

Common symptoms: Cramps Anxiety Insomnia Dry hair Dry skin and eighteen other symptoms

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

Tongue description: Pale, Thin and slightly dry

Treatment

Treatment principle: Nourish Blood, tonify Heart and Liver, calm the Mind and settle the Ethereal Soul.

Common formulas: Gui Pi Tang Sheng Yu Tang

Pathology

The Heart controls Blood circulation while the Liver stores Blood. Only when Heart Blood is plentiful does the Liver have Blood to store. And when Liver Blood is Deficient, Heart Blood is certain to be Deficient also.

As such signs of Heart Blood Deficiency almost always occur along Liver Blood Deficiency. This is why generally speaking, this combination of patterns is more likely to start with Liver Blood rather than Heart Blood Deficiency.

Both the Heart and Liver are involved in mental activities and mood: the Heart because it rules the Mind (Shen), the Liver because it houses the Ethereal Soul (Hun) and is in charge of the smooth and regular flow of Qi to all parts of the body.

Insomnia, for instance, is a characteristic "mental" symptom that can be attributed to both Heart Blood or Liver Blood deficiency as both the Mind and the Ethereal Soul play a role in sleep. The Mind is anchored in Heart Blood and the Ethereal Soul in Liver Blood: when either is deficient, one or the other ‘wanders’ at night, causing insomnia. 

The combination of Heart Blood and Liver Blood deficiency is also frequently seen in postpartum depression. It is often caused by the massive blood loss suffered during childbirth which induces Liver Blood Deficiency. As the Liver is the Mother of the Heart, this in turn induces a Deficiency of Heart-Blood. Deficient Heart-Blood fails to house the Mind and the woman becomes depressed and suffers from insomnia.

Causes

Precursor patterns: Liver and Heart Blood Deficiency can derive from Liver Blood Deficiency Kidney Qi not Firm Kidney Qi Deficiency

Emotional stress: Emotions that affect the Heart and may cause Heart Blood Deficiency include anxiety, worry, sadness and grief. Worry and sadness can affect the Liver too, causing Liver Blood Deficiency.

Diet lacking in Blood-nourishing foods: A diet poor in Blood-nourishing such as grains or meat may lead to Liver Blood Deficiency

Excessive physical activity: Excessive physical activity, such as physical work or exercise, may injure the sinews and therefore Liver Blood. Aerobic exercise (i.e. "cardio") like jogging also may injure Heart Blood.

Blood loss: Severe blood loss from a trauma or childbirth may deplete Liver Blood which in turn may lead to Heart-Blood Deficiency.

Diagnosing Liver and Heart Blood Deficiency

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

Tongue description: Pale, Thin and slightly dry

Main symptoms: Cramps Anxiety Insomnia Dry hair Dry skin Dizziness Pale lips Amenorrhea Depression Poor memory Palpitations Blurred vision Scanty periods Muscle weakness Floaters in eyes Tingling of limbs Dull-pale complexion Dream disturbed sleep Numbness in the limbs Feeling of aimlessness Diminished night vision Propensity to be startled Withered and brittle nails

Diagnosis commentary: Blurred vision, palpitations, a Pale tongue and a Choppy pulse are enough in and of themselves to diagnose Liver and Heart Blood Deficiency. Together with dizziness, insomnia and poor memory they are the key characteristic symptoms of this pattern.

Treating Liver and Heart Blood Deficiency

Treatment principle

Nourish Blood, tonify Heart and Liver, calm the Mind and settle the Ethereal Soul.

Herbal formulas used to treat Liver and Heart Blood Deficiency

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. Invented in 1529 AD, it belongs to the category of formulas that tonify Qi and Blood.

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

Read more about Gui Pi Tang

Sheng Yu Tang

Source date: 1336 AD

Number of ingredients: 6 herbs

Key actions: Tonifies Qi and Blood. Preserves the Blood.

Formula summary

Sheng Yu Tang is a 6-ingredient Chinese Medicine formula. Invented in 1336 AD, it belongs to the category of formulas that tonify Blood.

Besides Liver and Heart Blood Deficiency, Sheng Yu Tang is also used to treat Blood and Qi Deficiency.

Read more about Sheng Yu Tang

Diet recommendations

Eat a balanced diet including a lot of meat and grains. Eat only cooked foods (i.e. nothing raw) and do not skip meals.

Meditation and contemplation is also known to help with this pattern.

Consequence patterns

Heart Yin Deficiency

Long-term Blood Deficiency of the Heart and Liver will lead to Yin Deficiency of these two Organs.

Liver Yin Deficiency

Long-term Blood Deficiency of the Heart and Liver will lead to Yin Deficiency of these two Organs.

Kidney Qi Deficiency

Liver and Heart Blood Deficiency may lead to a Kidney Deficiency, especially in women