Heart of Health

By Daniel P. Miller, RAc, Dipl.OM


The philosophy of yin and yang is the foundation of East Asian medicine. Yin and yang is said to originate from the infinite state of emptiness through which all possibility and creation manifests. Everything in nature including organs within the human body is composed of yin and yang. From this belief system evolved the philosophy of the five elements. The five major, or yin organs, play a central role within the body. Health is maintained by the dynamic balance of energy between them. The human body is universal intelligence and has the ability to maintain and harmonize the multidimensional relationship that exists between these organs. These are the heart, spleen, lungs, kidneys, and liver.

The five yin organs are connected to the five elements. The heart is associated with fire. The spleen is associated with earth. The lungs are associated with metal. The kidneys are associated with water, and the liver with wood. When the emotions of the five yin organs are balanced, they transform into compassion within the heart center and radiate inward and outward with infinite love in a spiral motion. When the energy of fire is harmonious, joy is manifested. When it is imbalanced, the energy of cruelty may be expressed. When the energy of earth is harmonious, love is manifested. When it is imbalanced, worry may take over. When the energy of metal is harmonious, courage is manifested. When it is imbalanced, sadness may be expressed. When the energy of water is imbalanced, fear can manifest. The energy of wood is expressed as kindness, and anger, if unbalanced.

Compassion has been described as the highest virtue or the highest ki (life-force) which is expressed through the heart chakra. The heart chakra is a gateway to other dimensions and healing. It is also called the middle danjun (cinnabar-field), and is one of three major energy centers located in the center of our chest. The heart controls the circulation of blood throughout the body, while the lungs control the circulation of ki. When this energy center is blocked, disease may result. Because the heart is associated with the fire element and is the most active organ, when imbalanced it tends to either overheat or get exhausted and turn cold, possibly manifested as insomnia, palpitations, manic disorders, anxiety, restlessness, depression or chest discomfort. In East Asian medicine, the heart is said to house the spirit, which explains why some of these symptoms may be associated with an imbalanced heart. The heart and pericardium meridians or energy channels travel down both arms to the palms. When we hug one another, we connect with each other through the infinite love expressing itself from our heart centers. When we shake hands or hold our palms out, we are extending the energy of our hearts out towards each other.

Cold hands and feet may be due to weakened heart energy unable to sufficiently pump blood to the areas farthest from it. The heart controls blood vessels, and its condition manifests in the complexion and on the tongue. A healthy heart will generally manifest as a rosy complexion, while a weakening heart may betray a pale complexion. Stagnation of energy generally corresponds to excessive heat and pain. A red face may be indicative of excessive heat in the heart. The heart is said to manifest onto the tongue: a long, pointed tongue may indicate excessive heat in the heart while a short stubby tongue may indicate the opposite. The tip of the tongue also corresponds to the condition of the heart: redness or red spots on the tip may indicate heart heat. The fire element is associated with the color red. Therefore, according to East Asian herbology, foods that are red such as cranberries, watermelon, and red wine may benefit the heart if taken in moderation.

Abdominal breathing relieves considerable strain from the heart. With each inhalation, we bring oxygen and life force into our bodies. The air we breathe is charged with countless electric energy particles. With each exhalation we rid ourselves of carbon dioxide and stagnant ki. Yawning is the body’s natural way to relieve stagnant energy and carbon dioxide. When we were babies, we naturally exercised abdominal breathing. As we get older and take on increasing stresses of daily life, our breathing becomes shallower. It is said that, during normal respiration only about 30% of our lung capacity is used. To inhale deeper is to charge our bodies with more energy and oxygen. As the heart receives more energy and oxygen, our spirit is better able to relax. By inhaling deeper and using more of our lung capacities, our hearts do not have to work as hard as a result. Deeper breathing enhances circulation of blood and energy throughout the body. As the circulation improves and stress is relieved from the heart, blood pressure may improve. Abdominal breathing can greatly improve general health by strengthening the organs. Let our hearts be our guide in the pursuit of health and happiness.         


Daniel P. Miller graduated from the Ohio State University with a major in East Asian History. He has completed his Masters of Science in Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine at South Baylo University in Los Angeles, CA. He is currently practicing acupuncture in the city of Worthington, Ohio as a Diplomate in Oriental Medicine and is a registered acupuncturist by the state of Ohio. His goal is to help spread information about natural healing to the world.    614-888-9303 ● www.ohioholisticacupuncture.com