In February there is a big focus on Valentine’s Day and hearts. We love with all our heart, we get heartbroken, we are heart sick, we wear our hearts on our sleeves, we are heartfelt, and people tug at our heart strings. Since hearts are equated with love it is regarded with high importance in our emotional as well as our physical lives. Our hearts are one of the most amazing organs in our bodies. Without it, life would not be possible. It is King, or according to the ancient Chinese scholars and doctors, the Emperor. In the ancient texts they say the heart governs the mind. Thus anytime mental illness was present it was attributed to a malfunction of the heart or its meridian (energy pathway that feeds the heart).
The heart has an electrical field that is sixty times greater than the brain. The magnetic field is 5,000 times greater. Recent research shows that the heart has a central role in emotional perception and is capable of learning, remembering and making decisions independently of the brain! The heart truly is the ruler of our emotions and our physiology. Every day advances in science close the gap between ancient wisdom and modern technology. The more we advance the more we see that the ancients knew exactly what our bodies were capable of and how they functioned.
Heart functions according to Western medicine include removing metabolic waste, pumping blood through the body, and moving oxygen, nutrients, and other substances via the blood. Functions from the Eastern paradigm include controlling sweat, blood vessels & circulation; housing the “shen” or mind; and controlling mental activities. As a matter of fact, there is no mention of a brain in the organ system of Chinese medicine. According to their philosophies, the heart and kidney performed most functions considered cerebral in our culture.
Acupuncture physicians will look at a person’s complexion and tongue to determine the heart’s state of health. For example, people with heart conditions often have a very red tip of their tongue and may also have a crack down the center that goes all the way to the tip of the tongue. The ears can also be an indicator of heart issues. Frequently you will see a crack or line formed in the earlobe of a person with heart disease. The crack will start at the inferior notch on the ear and extend to the very end of the lobe. It is referred to as a stress line. These lines can occur years before heart symptoms ever surface. Your complexion can change according to the state of your heart as well. If you are blood deficient (anemic) then you will be very pale, if you have heart fire (irritability, palpitations, thirst, mouth/tongue ulcers, bitter taste in mouth) then your whole face will be red, or if you are suffering from heart yin deficiency (night sweats, palpitations, insomnia, dry mouth) then your face will be red only in the cheek and nose area.
Many people today suffer from symptoms that are attributed a dysfunction of the heart or its meridian. Some of the more common illnesses are anxiety, depression, hot flashes, low or high blood pressure, insomnia, schizophrenia, cardiac arrest, palpitations, poor memory, dream disturbed sleep and mental restlessness.
The heart meridian is strongest during the hours of 11 am to 1 pm and weakest from 11 pm to 1 am. This is why many people die of heart attacks in their sleep. Their energy in their heart is weak to begin with and during its lowest energetic period it gives out.
There are many practices you can take to heart to insure the health of your heart. Diet and exercise play a central role. Foods that can benefit the heart include but are not limited to oysters, persimmons, raspberries, dates, asparagus, basil, black beans, cinnamon, spinach, and red beets. You want to avoid foods high in saturated fat and salt. Yoga, tai chi, aerobics, and weight bearing exercise are all beneficial for your ticker.
Emotions play a huge role in your heart health. It is this organ that allows us to form deep energetic and emotional connections to others in this world. Without these connections we can not thrive. In Chinese medicine each organ has an emotion attributed to it. For example, the lungs relate to grief, the liver relates to anger, the spleen is associated with worry, the kidneys are ruled by fear, and the heart is affected by joy and sadness. These emotions are considered to be the basis of the majority of illness. It is important not to dwell on the negative emotions. Doing so will surely result in an imbalance of any meridian or associated organ. To truly help maintain your heart the best thing you can do is to love truly and love deeply. It is the energy of love that will make your heart and your entire being flourish.