“In Chinese medicine, the heart is said to house the mind, and it opens to the tongue, and it controls the body’s sweat . . . and we think that’s romantic!”
If this leaves you with sweaty palms and a red face, up all night and thirsty for more, that’s your heart channel at work!* Valentine’s Day is the perfect time to pay respect to the heart channel, also know as the hand shao yin. This channel has a few things in common with the western understanding of the heart organ (for example it circulates blood and can present with palpitations or an irregular rhythm when disease is present), but for the most part, the Chinese medical understanding of the heart channel is completely different from the western understanding of the heart. Chinese medicine recognizes and values modern scientific knowledge, but approaches the body holistically.
The heart channel has nine specific points and traverses from the heart organ to the tip of pinky finger, where it connects with its yang counterpart, the small intestine. The heart channel helps to nourish the blood, eyes, and lung. It calms the mind and emotions by regulating the nervous system. It is a fire element, and helps warm and regulate body temperature as it nourishes the organs with blood. The state of the heart channel can be seen at the tip of the tongue and in the color of the facial complexion. The heart houses the shen, which is roughly translated as the mind or spirit, and often equates a mental imbalance to a heart channel issue. So for the romantics out there, it’s true that the heart has a mind of its own!
When the heart channel is unbalanced, a few of the most common symptoms include insomnia, night sweats, and hot flashes. As referenced by the CDC and according to the AASM, 30 – 35% of all adults complain of insomnia (AASM, 2015). Many people rely on over-the-counter sleep aids and prescription pills, and still end up with poor quality sleep, memory issues, fogginess, and fatigue. However, there are several natural and effective ways to treat insomnia. Mayo Clinic recognizes acupuncture, tai chi, and meditation as beneficial to people with insomnia (Mayo Clinic Staff, 2016). Chinese herbal medicine is also a strong and effective way to assist in getting those zzzzzs.
Schedule an appointment or see a licensed acupuncturist and Chinese herbal medicine provider for more information or to begin treatment!