Here's to your Heart Heidi,
During the month of February symbols regarding love abound. Images of a red heart can be seen in store fronts, billboards, commercials, TV, or in social medial. Today, I
wish to discuss the heart and self-love ala the 5 (Wu) Phases/Elements (Xing), aka Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM).
In TCM, practitioners often implement the theory of the Wu (5) Xing (Elements) in everyday practice.
I wish to share some of the wisdom within Chinese Medicine theory, so that you can look at images of red and the heart in a whole new way.
In very simplified terms, the WuXing is about the 5 elements which create and sustain
the cosmos: Fire, Earth, Metal, Water, and Wood. This theory is very complex and yet
simple at the same time. What this means for TCM providers and patients is that each
phenomena in nature such as a body’s organ, a color, a taste, an emotion, a time of
day, a smell, a bodily function, and even a body orifice all correspond to the energies of
one of the 5 elements.
In our bodies and in the universe, these elements interact constantly. Thus, it is no
surprise that the element of fire is associated with the heart because the heart
generates electrical impulses that make it beat over 100,000 times a day. The heart is
hot and sparking and literally on fire with each and every electrical impulse causing
muscles within the heart to contract every second of the day.
In the universe WuXing interaction is observed in the phenomena that water puts out fire. This is a fitting analogy for a complicated disease such as congestive heart failure whereby too much fluid in the cardiovascular system eventually drowns the heart’s ability to fire up enough electrical impulses to keep it contracting normally. It makes sense from both a medical and WuXing standpoint that eliminating water/ is part of the protocol addressing this complex condition from both a Western and Eastern. It is also why those with heart disease are encouraged to eat low salt (salt is the flavor of water in WuXing) DASH diet as per the American Heart Association (AHA).
The Wu Xing is versatile and is not just a philosophical and theoretical model
but also can be made simple and fun.
Anyone can apply the WuXing principles for simple self assessment in order to maintain wellness. For example, the element of fire corresponds not only to the heart but also to the color red. Thus, red foods in moderation can be good for the heart. The taste of fire is bitter. Eating bitter foods are said to dry dampness and disperse obstruction. This is why bitter tasting herbs and foods can be recommended as part of a dietary care plan for those diagnosed with edema. Bitter tasting foods include rhubarb, radicchio, endive, dandelion tea, mustard greens, and kale. However, waking with a bitter taste accompanied by chest pain might indicate the need to seek an immediate medical consultation.