A little Background:
Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) is one of the fundamental theories guiding acupuncture practice. There are parallels between Western and Eastern Medicine but the philosophies are not the same. It is important to note that TCM pre-dates our Western understanding and labeling of Anatomy and Physiology. Therefore there are not direct correlations between Western and Eastern terms. These are not simply translations as the TCM existed first.
Now let’s talk about The Heart:
In TCM there are yin organs and yang organs that play a role in the development and function of the human body. The Heart is one of those organs, in fact, like with Western Medicine, it is considered by many to be the MOST important one.
In TCM, the Heart, is a yin organ. Yin organs have colors, smells, tastes, climates, and sounds associated with them. The Hearts color is red- no surprise there as the Heart is responsible for circulating the blood and controlling the blood vessels- just like in Western Medicine. But, it does so much more than that. Because TCM is a holistic practice, we must think outside the chest to really appreciate all the the Heart has to offer.
The Heart controls sweat, opens to the tongue, houses the Mind, manifests in the complexion and is related to joy.
Now some of these make rational sense- like the complexion. If you have high blood pressure, you may have a red-rosy face and low blood pressure may make you look drawn out.
But, I bet you are wondering how your Mind could be in your Heart. The TCM Mind, also called Shen, has at least two different meanings. The first is in relation to complex mental faculties and the other is related to spiritual aspects. This basically means that the state of the Heart will influence your emotional state. Now THAT makes sense. When you feel joy, you are happy. When you feel sad, you are unhappy. And someone who may experience too much joy, or mania, is likely to have some mental-emotional struggles that can be due to the overstimulation of the Mind. Or if you have a “Broken Heart”, you experience a lack of joy and may even have discomfort in your chest.
Seeing some of the parallels between TCM and Western Medicine is really neat. While many aspects of Traditional Chinese Medicine can be very complicated it is also very beautiful in its simplicity. We are always trying to find a balance in your body. The Heart is just one small, but vital, piece of the balancing act.