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HoloSapiens - the TCM "Food as Medicine" Project




  • Qi deficiency
  • chronic or excessive negative emotions
  • sadness


Note: To understand the term "Qi", thus to get a better grasp of the following disharmony, we encourage our readers to review the short material "What is Qi" in the Vitality chapter. 


Qi deficiency is a common problem for the contemporary person. Stress, poor diet (bad quality food or poor food combination), poor breathing (living in polluted areas), and overwork, wear out the energy of the modern people. Since each organ owns, uses and directs Qi, when the overall body Qi is depleted the Qi of the different organs will deplete as well. Thus overall Qi deficiency among other organs will also affect the Heart.

Another cause for Heart Qi depletion in traditional Chinese medicine are negative emotions. Since the Heart houses the mind emotional problems of any kind wear out the energy of the Heart. The emotion most responsible for Heart Qi depletion is sadness, as sadness is experienced with a physical sensation of pressure in the heart area and heart restriction.  (1)




If you want to learn more about the Heart and its functions from the perspective of traditional Chinese medicine go to "The Heart in Chinese medicine" in the Physiology chapter.




  • heart palpitations
  • spontaneous sweating
  • shortness of breath
  • tiredness
  • paleness
  • Yang deficiency symptoms - feeling of cold, fear of cold
  • Yang collapse symptoms - shallow breathing, cold limbs and blue lips


The main symptom that suggests Heart disharmony of any kind is heart palpitations. Normally the heartbeat is not felt. If there is a chronic repetitive sensation of the heartbeat whether it is accelerated and/or irregular (arrhythmia) than the Heart is out of balance. Heart palpitations due to deficiency will feel better from a gentle massage applied on the chest. In contrary heart palpitations due to excess do not tolerate any massage or touching of the chest area.

Since the sweat is the fluid of the Heart deficient Heart Qi will lead to sweating. It is important to know, though, that spontaneous sweating (sweating without exertion) is one of the common signs of general Qi deficiency as the deficient Qi has difficulty holding and containing the fluids of the body.

Other typical symptoms of overall Qi deficiency are shortness of breath, tiredness, and paleness. If these symptoms are combined with heart palpitations (the symptom that points to Heart dysharmony) then the Qi of the Heart is deficient.

Yang is the warming principle of the body. When Yang is deficient general “cold signs” manifest such as feeling of cold and/or fear of cold. When "cold signs" manifest together with the above mentioned symptoms of Heart Qi deficiency then the Yang of the Heart is apparently also deficient (for more clarity on Yin and Yang principle please review “Yin and Yang in Traditinal Chinese Medicine” in the Physiology chapter)

In sever cases Yang deficiency will lead to "Heart Yang collapse". In this case the warming principle of the body is completely exhausted and urgently needs to be rescued. Symptoms of Heart Yang collapse are weak and shallow breathing, cold limbs and blue lips combined with heart palpitations. In such cases it is imperative to contact the emergency room immediately!




Foods that tonify and nourish the Heart and the blood (which is governed by the Heart) are red foods and herbs. Foods with intense red color such as beetroot and red cherries are excellent for building up blood, which consequently will strengthen the Qi of the Heart.

As deficient Qi affects the Qi of different organs it needs to be treated holistically. If there are general Qi deficiency signs (shortness of breath, spontaneous sweating, chronic tiredness, paleness, apathy) then the treatment principles of all organs, affected by the general Qi deficiency, need to be incorporated. These are the treatment principles for deficiency of Lung Qi (Deficiency of Lung Qi), deficiency of Spleen Qi (Deficiency of Spleen Qi), and stagnant Liver Qi (Stagnated Liver Qi). (2)


Cinnamon For Heart


If the Yang - the warming principle - of the Heart is deficient it needs to be reinforced by warming the body “internally”.


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Food Therapy


Food therapy is the most economical and non-toxic biochemical approach to health and disease. Food is something we continuously use to sustain our lives. Learning what foods are healing (and what disruptive) for each condition has the potential to convert every meal into a form of therapy.   


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(1) Maciocia, Giovanni (1989). The Foundations of Chinese Medicine. Nanjing: Harcourt Publishers Limited

(2)Pitchford, Paul (2002). Healing with Whole Foods. Berkeley: North Atlantic Books


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