Southwest Austin and Blanco Acupuncture

The Heart in Chinese Medicine and It’s Relationship to Anxiety

Happy Valentine’s Day everyone! Since I am seeing hearts everywhere I thought I could tell y’all about the what the Heart means for us in Chinese Medicine. The Heart houses the ‘Shen’ or the spirit or the mind. Hopefully I can show you how acupuncture and Chinese Medicine can helps with anxiety. Anxiety can afflict people emotionally or physically. Symptoms of anxiety include feelings of dread, restlessness, heart pounding, headaches, dizziness, and/or sweating. Either through Chinese Herbal therapy, acupuncture or Qigong, Chinese Medicine can provide anxiety relief.

First I want to tell you about the Shen. The Shen is a more spiritual aspect of this system and has Taoist roots. The Taoists and ancient Chinese related the human body to the cosmos. The galaxy or the Heavens is Shen. Humans are Qi.  The Earth is Jing Essence. As we reflect our environment our minds are Shen, our bodies are Qi and our constitution is Jing Essence. (I’m simplifying Jing greatly…).

There is a phrase ‘The eyes are the window to the soul’.  The Heart channel system goes the eyes. We can look at a person and say they have a lot of spirit because their eyes are bright. This is a glimpse of their Shen. When a patient comes to see me I access their Shen by taking note of their eyes. It’s common post treatment that their Shen is improved by the brilliance of their eyes.

The Heart holds our emotions and all emotions can injure the Heart. If the Heart is Shen, then all emotions can injure the Heart. There are five emotions: anger, overjoy, worry or overthinking, grief and fear. Overjoy specifically is related to the Heart. You would think that overjoy is great! It took me awhile to understand this concept. Let me see if this perspective helps. Think of that person that likes to skydive or race cars. Maybe they like scary movies. They want to be in the flight response, to feel the adrenalin rush and their heart race. Other indications of overjoy are talking incessantly or laughing at inappropriate times. The overjoy seeker may injury their Heart Qi and the talkative one may have already injured their Heart Qi.

Each organ has a directional flow of Qi. When the Qi is not flowing in the correct direction, we call this Rebellious Qi. If the Heart Qi is not rooted in the Shen, the Qi  floats up causing palpations, restlessness and insomnia. This can be chronic or it can come on acutely and look like what Western medicine calls a panic or anxiety attack. I will use acupuncture needles to guide the Qi back down and root it. Next is to uncover what is the cause of the Qi rising which could be many things.

So how is this information important to you? We are all going to have our ups and downs with emotions, but our goal as humans is to have even emotions. Learn to let things go and not judge situations. With judgement comes drama and decisions.  If you find yourself over thinking a situation, angry or upset something did not go your away, fearful that the outcome will not be what is desired, sad due to a loss or over excited take a deep breath. Ground yourself through breath by breathing in a count of 5 and exhaling slower with a count of 6. Practice this daily and you will see that your emotions will be calm and your Heart Qi will be rooted in Shen.

If you already suffer from anxiety, please call me for a free 20 minute phone consultation by scheduling an appointment with me at



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