Protecting Your Heart According To Traditional Chinese Medicine
The ancient Chinese regarded the heart as a spirit called the Shen and considered it the brightest, most yang spirit of all of the five spirits within the body. The heart chakra is our inner light, said to be made up of starlight, helping guide us through the confusion of life like the north star. When we get caught up in the mind by our desires, expectations, hopes, dreams, and possibilities, the light in our hearts is where we find inner guidance that leads us toward our tao, the path of our true nature.
Emotional fluctuations like trauma, shock, abuse, and constitutional/karmic work can all cause heart chakra disturbance. The energy of the Shen moves quickly like fire. The light of the shen flares up, disappears, and flickers up again. It is the fire element. At times, it is fast and uncontrollable like wildfire. Constant shen disturbance can look like a lack of inner light, which shows up as a timid nature with symptoms of insomnia, disturbed dreams, anxiety, palpitations, and inability to concentrate. Or as fire burning fiercely ablaze with symptoms of being overly talkative, mania, schizophrenic, incoherence, hyperactivity, and restlessness.
Protecting the nature of the heart is all about resting in its original nature, which is serene, accepting, and open. Opening the heart chakra is about trusting yourself. Rest in your heart space, and let the light of your heart illuminate your path. When strong emotions arise remain open by observing and reflecting on them as they pass. Using herbal tea, flower essences, bodywork, acupuncture, and meditation is helpful when one needs guidance returning to the heart center. Giving space for quiet and rest with a cup of herbal tea blended specifically to help restore the heart chakra. Let the heart grow calm again through stillness so you can hear your heart’s wisdom. The health of the heart is reflected in the light of the eyes. The brightness in the eyes sparks connection, awareness, and inspiration. When you need re-connection, use this blog post as a guide to help you formulate your heart chakra herbal tea.
Heart Protector Herbal Tea
The pericardium is the heart protector that offers defense against all of the modern-day stressors that cause us to go into a state of numbed-out, unconscious shock, and disassociation. Our world is sick from artificial lights, harsh noises, social media, the onset of war, division, and economic instability, among other things. Causing tightness in the chest that leads to closed hearts. Then, the closed energy inevitably leads to heart disease, which takes the lives of millions each year. It takes constant and extreme courage for us to cultivate our personal power and self-love within our hearts.
The Heart Protector is an acupuncture point in Chinese medicine that designates the defensive wall around the heart (the pericardium) that protects us from shock. The point is also called Inner Frontier Gate and is considered one of the most important acu-points. It steadies the heart and stomach, helping to regulate circulation and emotions. Clearing the mind and brightening the mental outlook. The heart protector tea was designed to work similarly to the heart protector acupuncture point. Each herb in this blend is carefully chosen to heal the ailments of the heart and balance the heart chakra.
Start your morning or wind down at night with this relaxing blend that I put together that supports the activation of the Heart Protector—giving us a chance to stay still and cultivate our Shen (heart spirit). This allows us to take in the present moment by dropping into the consciousness of our hearts. Helping you find your inner wisdom, joy in the abundance of life, and satisfaction in the simplicity. This blend explicitly protects the heart and harmonizes the fire element. This tea contains nervines, tropho-restoratives, and adaptogens that help calm and relax the entire system when we are facing stress, fatigue, anxiety, or trauma. These herbal allies allow our hearts to circulate our blood so we feel encouraged to open up. Giving us the capacity to move freely.
There are so many wonderful heart medicines to explore; keep reading to learn about each herb in the Heart Protector blend as well as a few other amazing heart herbs, so you can buy the blend that has been carefully blended or create your own.
Blending Your Herbal Teas For Your Heart Chakra
Since the heart is all about intuition, it is best to use your intuition to create your very own heart chakra herbal blend. I have listed some of my favorite herbs below for the heart, but feel free to add anything else that may be calling to you.
According to Ayurvedic medicine, there are seven energy centers called the Chakras. This is similar to the Dan-Tien referred to in Traditional Chinese Medicine. Although these ideas don’t match up perfectly, they both cover the same idea of us having different energy centers throughout the body. The seven chakras are the crown chakra, third eye chakra, throat chakra, heart chakra, solar plexus chakra, sacral chakra, and root chakra. These energy centers can be felt in the physical body, especially during meditation practice. Many ancient meditation lineages throughout cultures practice moving qi through these energy centers to help harmonize the spirit.
The heart chakra is called the Anahata is Sanskrit. It is the bridge between the upper and lower chakras. When the heart chakra is closed, people have trouble opening up to the ones around them and themselves. An open heart chakra is felt when a person expresses deep compassion and empathy. The chakra controls love, joy, and inner peace. The color green represents it. The air element is in Ayurvedic medicine, and the fire element is in TCM.
If you feel called to clear out the other chakras, you can also look into other herbs that have a specific affinity for the chakra you want to clear to add to your heart chakra blend. Have fun experimenting and choosing herbs that speak to your heart. I hope you find healing.
Rose Petals & Rose Hips
Gently nurtures your heart spirit. Restoring your guiding light. Rose is considered the queen of herbs for grief and broken hearts (whether it is personal or communal grief). Her medicine guides us through feelings of social anxiety, injustice, trauma, anger, and depression. Creating space in our hearts to open up and perceive issues with our hearts, not our intellectual minds. Rose helps our hearts become clear so we can begin to find wholeness. Helping us regain the love of self.
Rose does amazing healing by cooling our entire system when it is inflamed. Excess heat is sedated with rose, which helps to reduce capillary fragility—providing a tonic action on the capillaries and vessels of the heart. It improves heart circulation, gently helps with angina and nervousness, and protects against oxidized stress. Moving blood and qi through the circulatory system. Relaxing psychological and emotional traumas that cause heart disease.
Hawthorn Berry & Flower
Hawthorn trees are part of the Rosaceae family, with approximately 280 different species. They are mystical trees that have connected humans to the realms of magic, especially in Irish folk medicine. But hawthorn was first mentioned in Traditional Chinese Medicine in Tang Ben Cao, the world’s first pharmacopeia written in 659 A.D. It helps fully embrace the magic all around us and within us. Helping us embody our true nature so we can share our magical gifts. Filling our hearts with love and reverence for all beings on Earth, especially the ones that are unseen. It is no secret that Hawthorn trees are a portal to the fairy realm Both the flowers and berries can be used as heart medicine especially during periods of trransition.
The berries stimulate digestion, promote better stomach function and blood circulation, and remove blood stasis. It is an essential herb for the circulatory system that strengthens the heart. Which helps regulate the rhythm and blood pressure. Hawthorn is a mild coronary vasodilator, which helps increase blood supply to the heart and muscles. This helps with preventing spasms, angina, and shortness of breath. It also helps with moderate hypertension when the person has a low pulse and blood pressure. Hawthorn is also used for arrhythmias and extrasystole function. It can be dangerous to use on the more extreme issues in the elderly. But it is a great preventive herb for degenerative disorders of the heart. The syrup of hawthorn berries has been used to strengthen connective tissue that is weak and inflamed. The species with dark berries carry high levels of flavonoids that work well with inflammation.
Milky Oats/ Oat Straw
Fresh milky oats have a milky latex sap that secreates when harvest fresh in the late summer. This is the plants most potent medicine. But you can still use dried milky oats and oat straw in teas for some of the benefits. Oats are considered a sweet nervine that strengthens and stabilizes the nervous system. Tonifies the qi and yin of the heart, kidney, and spleen.
Especially powerful in nourishing the entire nervous system structure when experiencing intense stress, nervous exhaustion, anxiety, emotional lability, and sensory overload. Calms and gently sedates the spirit. It’s an excellent remedy for people who feel on edge, hypervigilant, or burnt out. Treating mental and physical exhaustion associated with chronic pain. Milky oats can be paired with hawthorn to help stabilize the yin-yang balance in the heart and treat emotional disturbances, bipolar disorders, and menopausal mood swings.
A dynamic nervine has a bright aroma that uplifts the spirit when needed. But it can also work to sedate an unsettled spirit and aid sleep. Lemon verbena is also anti-inflammatory, helping to soothe joint pain and reduce stomach cramps. Clears heat and congestion in the digestive system. Easing symptoms like. bloating, nausea, diarrhea, stomach cramping, and constipation.
A nervine, tropho-resorative and adaptogen. Strengthens a fatigued endocrine and nervous system. Working to restore weak and exhausted states. Traditionally classified in Ayurveda as a rejuvenating tonic that assists in rebuilding, restoring, and replenishing the constitution of those who often feel weak, deficient, and exhausted. For best results, it is recommended to use ashwagandha over long periods.
Marshmallow is the queen of moistening herbs for when you are feeling dry externally and internally. Marshmallow helps balance the dry/atrophy and heat/excitation tissue states. The demulcent and emollient properties moisten, hydrate, and soften dried tissue that has lost functionality.
The root’s unique energetics help cool and soothe heat and inflammation resulting from heat and dryness. This herb is beneficial for excess heat problems such as acid reflux, burning, and ulceration in the esophagus. It settles the stomach with its soft and tender nature. Helping soften a hardened heart and mind, especially when processing difficult emotions. This herb is neutral, neither relaxing nor tonifying. Its ability to sedate heat and moisten the tissues helps to balance yin deficiency.
If you want to open the heart chakra and the lungs, anise hyssop is a magical herb to consider for your tea blend. Hyssop alleviates deeply held tension and damp congestion within the lungs. Lifting away any harmful thoughts and fears that have taken root in the respiratory system. The energetics of this plant are said to resolve internalized feelings of shame that have us punishing ourselves, telling ourselves we are undeserving of good things in our lives because of fear of karmic punishment.
Hyssop has been used for various spiritual and religious purposes and is said to purge, purify and cleanse not just our respiratory system. It has a special affinity for practically every part of the body, showing how potent and protective this medicine is. Hyssop is both bitter and aromatic. Used as a stimulant. Carminative tonic. Used as an expectorant for sore throats, asthma, and coughs. Helping open up bronchial passageways. Also stimulates secreations in the gut, increasing blood flow to the gut and enhancing digestion and nutrient absorption. Can even be used for liver stagnation patterns and jaundice, promoting diuresis. Also influences the kidneys, urinary tract, and female reproductive system.
Reishi is one of the most sought-after heart medicines in China. It was once illegal for anyone to have the fruiting bodies in their possession. It is called the “mushroom of spiritual potency” and has been used for centuries to harmonize the body and promote longevity. Promoting balance, calmness, awareness, centeredness, and inner strength and supporting immune system function and stress relief.
In TCM, reishi is used to calm the Shen, tonify wei qi and Blood, Nourishes the Heart, support shen, removes toxicity, disperse accumulations, and support the three treasures (Jing, Qi, and Shen) Used for insomnia, anxiety, and restlessness. Promoting emotional well-being enhances immunity, allergies, asthma, and longevity, and lowers cholesterol and blood pressure, and allergic reactions. Soothes nausea, and tumors, and reduces arthritis, longevity, and spiritual and emotional well-being.
Tea (Camelia sinensis)
Tea is one of the most potent heart medicines. It is immediately felt when tea is sipped in reverence with ancient traditions in the ceremony. It is commonly used by monks in the monasteries to help aid in meditation. Tea helps facilitate presence, quieting the mind and opening the many layers of the heart. The potency of this medicine is felt when the leaves are grown from old-growth trees and processed through ancient lineages of tea farmers. I buy all of my ceremonial grade teas from a trusted source and friend at Living Tea.
Tea is best experienced on its own, but it does make an incredible addition to herbal blends. There are many varieties of tea that can add a lot of depth of flavor and energetic properties. In the early pharmacopeias of Taoist medicine, tea is described as shen, or “spirit,” tonic: tea was said to calm the heart and “brighten the eyes,” in both physical and spiritual senses. It has a powerful affinity for opening the heart. But also carries a number of other benefits like boosting the immune system, cleansing the body of free radicals, increasing bone mass, promoting healthy gut flora, proper digestion, regulating cholosterol and blood sugar. Gently increasing focus, energy, and alertness. But most importantly it is transformative plant ally that connects us to nature and the nature of our hearts.
Tulsi, also known as holy basil, is considered a sacred plant in Ayurvedic medicine. It is used to ward off evil spirits and negative energy. Its unique energetics are pungent, aromatic, warming, and sweet. Supporting the nervous, digestive, and immune systems. It is considered a relaxant, nervine and adaptogen. It is used in spiritual practice because of its stimulating and uplifting influence on the mind, body, and spirit.
Tulsi is part of the mint family known for high amounts of essential oils. These essential oils benefit the upper respiratory tract. Holy Basil volatile oils benefit the sinuses, nose, throat, and bronchioles. Holy basil has also been proven to benefit insulin receptors, helping to stabilize blood sugar levels. It is also active in the digestive system as a carminative by stimulating digestive secretions and can help relax tension in the gut.
Lemon balm is known for its happy, vibrant aroma. It has calming effects that bring peace and serenity. Soothing tense digestion and an anxious mind. Reconnecting you to your heart chakra, your inner child, and to the unconditional love for yourself that you may have briefly forgotten. Supports cardiovascular health by working to calm an anxious heart for those who are feeling downhearted or heavyhearted.
Specifically indicated for people who get sweaty palms when they feel anxious, this is a sign of deeper blood and cardiovascular implications due to stress, often associated with a feeling of hyperadrenalism. It helps us acknowledge feelings that lead to depression, nervousness, melancholy, and anxiety so we can re-activate control over our happiness by finding within our hearts the things that allow us to feel content and fulfilled. Providing solace and tranquility during times we need it most. Lemon balm is another carminative herb in the mint family. It is a classic remedy for relieving digestive ailments like gas, bloating, distention, and general dyspepsia from digestive insufficiency and wind patterns.
Yarrow is known as a protection herb. Encouraging strong, healthy boundaries. Gives us the strength we need to do our work without burning ourselves out. Protecting our vital energy, and strengthening our kidneys and adrenals. Taking our trauma and struggles and turning them into teachings gives us the courage to face our wounds and heal them so we can empower others to do the same.
Yarrow is a potent master of blood helps reduce bleeding and clotting, etc. It is a cooling anti-inflammatory, circulatory stimulant, and tonic/astringent. It benefits the entire vasculature system, especially the veins. It is a diuretic that activates qi through the veins and kidneys. In this way, it can help relieve the excessive buildup of fluids in the tissues (damp stagnation) and help bring the kidneys to a more significant activity level. It is also a urinary antiseptic cooling tissues in the bladder and urethra. Commonly used for UTI and cystitis. Adding yarrow to your tea can help stimulate delayed menses and can ease clotting and cramping helping promote a more regular flow. Also combines well with Hawthorn in a cardiovascular formula.
The doctrine of signatures says it all with Linden’s heart-shaped leaves. The sweet scent of the blossoms makes the heart happy. Linden releases tension in the musculature and circulatory vessels—especially the heart. Softening worries and uplifting the spirit, alleviating feelings of restlessness, and improving sleep while decreasing states of anxiety and depression. Specifically, stress that culminates in the heart causing contraction in the vasculature. Gently widening blood vessels and lowering blood pressure.
Here is a classic European remedy not only as a cardiotonic remedy but as a general remedy for excessive nervousness, tension, hyperactivity, and stress. Thus, it operates on the neural activity of the heart and is a specific nervine sedative for excitable heart conditions. It is traditionally used for hypertension and arteriosclerosis, and the combination of actions we see are specific for nervine (calming stress), antispasmodic (relaxing vascular tension), diuretic (draining excess fluids and lowering blood pressure), anti-inflammatory (sedating heat), hypotensive. It is thus used for angina heart palpitations and as an excellent cooling relaxant remedy for the vasculature. Matthew gives a specific indication of the flame-shaped red-tipped tongue with a decent amount of moisture.
Ginkgo is one of the world’s oldest tree species, with fossil records tracing over 200 million years. Its resilience against environmental changes speaks of the power of this herbal medicine and how it can be an incredible plant ally to help us deal with the millions of environmental stressors that plague our modern world.
Ginkgo has an affinity for the head, the brain, the eyes, and the circulatory system. Ginkgo increases cerebral circulation. Ginkgo stimulates all the blood vessels in the brain, helping deliver more oxygen, glucose, and nutrients. Ginkgo is one of the main remedies for the eyes for poor eyesight and eye fatigue. There are several tiny capillary beds around the eyes that Ginkgo also targets.
It is a nootropic herb that supports cognitive health by thinning the blood and supplying the brain with freshly oxygenated blood, thus improving mental focus, mental clarity, short-term memory, and visual clarity. Ginkgo is often used to clear brain fog and improve short-term memory. It is one of the best peripheral vasodilators and blood thinners, which increases circulation so the blood can move easily through the system—an excellent remedy for those experiencing high blood pressure.
May you find connection with your heart with these plant remedies!