The Heart & Traditional Chinese Medicine

5 element theory heart

The Heart and Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM)

In TCM summer corresponds to the heart. According to Chinese medicine, now is the time to focus on the heart and incorporate foods and lifestyle advice that will tonify heart. In TCM each organ corresponds not only to an element ie wood, fire, earth, metal, water but also to a planet, mental quality, emotion, sensory organ, body part, body fluid, sense, taste or flavour and even smell. In TCM heart disease is not only represented by physical symptoms related to the hearts itself such as palpitations or angina, but also by disorders of the corresponding five element connection. For example glossitis or inflammation of the tongue, spontaneous excessive sweating, speech disorders and insomnia are all seen as heart pathologies or patterns of disharmony associated with the Heart.

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Tongue Diagnosis


The tongue has many relationships and connections in the body, both to the meridians and the internal organs. It is therefore very useful and important during inspection for confirming TCM diagnosis. It can present strong visual indicators of a person's overall harmony or disharmony. The tongue has a special relationship with the Heart, in that the Heart opens to the tongue. The tongue is said to be an "offshoot" of the Heart, or "flowers" into the Heart. The normal tongue in Traditional Chinese Medicine has a light red or pinkish body with a thin white coating.

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Pulse Diagnosis

pulse diagnosis tcm

  • Palpation
  • Divisions of the Pulse
  • Location of the Radial Pulses
  • The Method of Pulse Diagnosis

Factors Influencing Pulse

In Western medicine, the pulse is only a minor diagnostic tool, In TCM it is very important.

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Five Element Theory & Chinese Dietary Therapy


TCM’s Five Element framework is ancient and Universal in what it embodies. The Five Elements are deeply woven into the fabric of Chinese culture. In fact, Five Element theory is the foundation of Chinese disciplines such as feng shui, the martial arts, and the I Ching (The Book of Changes, a text also Universal in its understanding and representation of the dynamic balance of opposites and the processes of unfolding events and change). A useful dietary theory in TCM relates to Five Elements Theory or Wu Xing.

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Origins of Traditional Chinese Medicine

traditional chinese medicine

The origin of TCM theory is lost in prehistory before writing was invented. The written language started in China during the Shang Dynasty in 1766 BC. The writings on medicine at that time project back in history over two thousand years. Ancient works are alluded to in the prehistoric period but are now lost as "legendary".

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TCM Diagnostic Patterns

tcm diagnostic

Traditional Chinese Medicine utilises a different language to describe imbalances in the body and mind. What a western medical doctor may diagnose as insomnia, for example, a TCM practitioner might diagnose as Yin Deficiency or Blood deficiency with heat harassing the heart causing shen disturbance.

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shen spirit

Shen can be translated as "Spirit" or "Mind" and implies our consciousness, mental functions, mental health, vitality, and our "presence".

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TCM Causes of Disease

tcm cause of diseaseCauses of Disease
If the body is healthy (in harmony or balance), it is able to resist pathogens (agents that produce disease). Qi is responsible for keeping the body in balance. Disharmony or imbalance can be caused externally by weather changes or internally by excessive emotion.

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