How the heart and kidneys work together for mental health, according to Chinese Medicine

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) has greatly increased its renown outside of China these past few years. Considered as the oldest, most continuously practiced, professional, literate medicine in the world, it’s no surprise that universities and hospitals have already warmed up to practicing TCM together with Western Medicine as legitimate disciplines. The practice is believed to have originated 4,000 years ago, and has since developed to become popular not only in China, where it is an integral part of healthcare, but also the rest of the world.

TCM is rooted under a holistic standpoint, taking to consideration not just the symptom at face value, but also other latent factors such as imbalances, disharmonies, and environment.

Healthy kidneys, healthy heart

A perfect example of this is the relationship between your heart, your kidneys, and your mental health. These things function as a whole: the heart and the kidney share a mind-spirit relationship controlled by heart and a brain-marrow relationship that is controlled by the kidney. The connection that these two organs have can be used to understand a person’s mental health. This relationship is discussed by Leon Hammer in the study “The Relationship between the Kidney and the Heart in Chinese Medicine”.

“The Water is the ground substance of our existence, the foundation-root of and resource for all life,” Hammer writes. “The Fire is endless ongoing creation on earth, the God in man. Divine Love resides in Water Qi [Yin-Yang] as a potential that is realized and expressed by the Heart-Word, the communicator that reaches out to the world.”

Consequently, a deficit in a person’s kidney essence would spell problems in that person’s heart as well. This can manifest as to a decrease in blood production for the heart, and inhibits its normal development. In addition to this, any instability in the heart will adversely affect the nervous system as well.

One of the signs of an imbalanced relationship between your heart and your kidneys is called disharmony. This happens when the water in your kidney is not enough to balance the heart. A person suffering from disharmony may feel palpitations from the heart, an inability to sleep, increased irritability, and fatigue. The person may also be prone to depression, feel overly anxious, and even may get easily startled. Usual causes for disharmony include exposure to toxic environment and exposure to intense bouts of emotions such as anger, depression, sadness, or mania.

A good way to test the relationship between your heart and your kidney is through your sleep habits. If you suffer from restlessness during sleep, or when your find yourself waking up after a few hours — it can be a possible sign that your circulation may be impaired because of a lack of kidney qi-yang flowing to your heart. This phenomenon can manifest itself through agitation and worry, which can block sleep from setting in.

Interestingly enough, this relationship is not confined to medicine alone. A healthy heart and kidney is the impetus for the creation of a unique idea. This idea is referred to “Dragon Rises Red Bird Flies”. The kidney is where the unconscious is created. The unconscious idea is then carried to the heart, where it is realized into an original individual idea. Think of it this way: When person are creating something, their motivation to create that idea comes from their kidneys. Their heart responds by realizing that idea. Therefore, it can be implied that when the relationship between the heart and the kidney is sound, the mind can work and create new ideas. The opposite is true as well. When your heart and your kidney’s relationship are not sound, it can manifest itself into negativity. A person who lacks a sound relationship may find himself to have a fear of the unknown, or to feel psychologically vulnerable.

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