Introduction to TCM

Basics of TCM

  • Yin-Yang | Five Elements

Zang-Fu Theories

  • Zang Organs | Fu Organs

Classification of Antineoplastic Herbal Medicines

Characteristics of Herbal Medicines


  • By Auscultation & Olfaction
  • By Inspection


Theories of Channels (Meridians) and Collaterals

Reference: A Modern View of the Immune System

Differentiation of Syndromes

  • 8 Principles
  • 6 Channels 4 Stages
  • Syndromes of Zang-Fu Organs


  • Exogenous | Pestilential
  • Pathogenic Factors
  • Emotional

Materia Medica

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Differentiating Syndromes of the Heart

Syndromes of heart qi zu and heart yang xu

Palpitation and shortness of breath aggravated by exertion, spontaneous sweating, thready and weak pulse, and regular pulse or irregular intermittent pulse, are the basic symptoms of heart qi deficiency (xu) and heat yang deficiency (xu). If the above symptoms are accompanied with a pale and lusterless complexion, lassitude and a pale tongue proper with whitish coating, they are in the category of heart qi deficiency. If they are complicated with chills, cold extremities, fullness of the chest, pallor, and a pale or dark purplish tongue proper, they are considered as syndromes of the heart yang deficiency.

If heart qi or heart yang is insufficient, then the blood circulation is not promoted and shortness of breath aggravated by exertion will manifest. If heart yang is inadequate to restrict heart fluid, there will be spontaneous sweating. Qi deficiency leads to blood deficiency and weakness of yang qi, so disorders of blood circulation will manifest by thready, weak, irregular or regular intermittent pulses. Heart qi deficiency, or the failure of yang qi and blood to nourish the tongue, face and body, causes a pale and lusterless complexion, pale tongue proper, and lassitude. Heart yang deficiency fails to warm the limbs, which causes chills and cold extremities. Failure of yang qi in the chest causes the improper circulation of qi and blood, manifesting a fullness in the chest and a dark purplish tongue proper.

Syndromes of heart blood deficiency and heart yin deficiency

Palpitation, insomnia, dream disturbed sleep and poor memory. If these symptoms are accompanied with a lusterless complexion, dizziness, pale tongue and lips, and a thready pulse, then these are heart blood deficiency syndromes. If the symptoms are complicated with irritability, thirst, feverish sensation of the palms and soles, tidal fever, night sweating, dry red tongue proper, and a thready rapid pulse, then these are heart yin deficiency syndromes.

The heart dominates the blood and its vessels, so heart blood deficiency and heart yin deficiency both cause malnourishment of the head region, manifesting as malnourishment of the mind, producing symptoms of palpitation, poor memory, insomnia, and dreamed disturbed sleep; malnourishment of the facial region, producing symptoms of lusterless complexion, pale tongue and lips; malnourishment of the brain, manifesting as dizziness and a thready weak pulse. Heart yin insufficiency also leads to heart yang preponderance and internal xu fire disturbances which cause irritability, feverish sensation of the palms, dry red tongue proper with scanty fluid, and thready rapid pulse.

Syndromes of heart fire preponderance

Ulcers of the tongue and mouth, anxiety, insomnia, thirst, yellowish urine, a red tongue tip, and rapid pulse.

The heart opens to the tongue. If there is a preponderance of heart fire, it flares up to attack the tongue causing ulceration. If heart fire causes internal disturbances, it first affects the mind, causing irritability and insomnia. A preponderance of hear fire consumes the body fluids, causing thirst, red tongue tip, and rapid pulse.

Stagnation of heart blood syndromes

Palpitation, paroxysmal pricking pain, or stuffy pain of the precardiac region referring to the shoulder and arm of the left side, cyanosis of the lips and nails, cold extremities, spontaneous sweating, dark red tongue proper, or purplish tongue proper with petechiae, thready rugged pulse, or regular and irregular intermittent pulse.

Obstruction of heart yang leads to unsmooth circulation of qi and blood, and the stagnation of blood in the vessels, causing palpitation and cardiac pain. The small intestine channel of the hand Taiyang is exterior and interior related to the hear channel, so the qi of the two channels affect each other, that is why cardiac pain is related to the shoulder and arm. The stagnation of heart blood may also bring on cyanosis of the lips and nails, dark red tongue proper, or purplish tongue proper with petechiae, thready rugged pulse, or regular and irregular intermittent pulse. Heart blood stagnation blocks the yang qi from spreading over the body surface and the four extremities, so cold extremities and spontaneous sweating result.

Phlegm fire heart-disturbing syndrome

Mental disorder, weeping and laughing without apparent reason (emotional liability), mania, redness of face, thirst, coarse breath, yellowish urine, yellow and sticky tongue coating, slippery, rapid, and forceful pulse.

Phlegm-fire disturbs the heart mind and exhausts the body fluid, so the above symptoms and pulses appear.

Related Subjects

Read more on description of the main syndromes of other zang-fu organs: Liver, Spleen, Lung, Kidney, Small Intestine, Large Intestine, Urinary Bladder, Stomach, and Gall Bladder.

Traditional Chinese Medicine pages by Raymond Cheng, PhD DPA FRSA FRSPH

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With over 3000 years of experience, Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) has remain one of the many fascinating areas in ancient Chinese culture. First known to be documented in the Yellow Emperor's Canon of Medicine, TCM is believed to have been practised in as early as 475 to 221 B.C. The field of working knowledge of TCM stretches from anything related to general healthcare practice to the philosophy of the mind, the logic of life, religion, and even to as far as cosmology and astronumerology. This is why in order to thoroughly understand the concepts behind TCM, one must be comprehensive in learning and embracing the Chinese culture as a whole.

Just as Douglas Hoff put it when he explained about accupuncture, "The systems of TCM uses the concepts of elements and meridians and are completely immersed in the Asian cosmology which takes shape through the religions." The meridian-brain mechanism, the fundamental working concept of acupuncture, in which the pain block from the message that the needle or burning cone of herbs gives to the point of stimulus, was only found centuries later by the West through science and technology.


Raymond Cheng, PhD DPA Thank you for visiting this TCM and acupuncture information website. If you have previously been to this website, you might have noticed that some of the pages on ancient historical ideas and holistic thinkings related to Chinese metaphysics are temporarily taken offline. This is because I will be revamping the whole website and be moving those information into a new \"Ancient Chinese Culture\" section so as to reflect a more current perspective on the interpretation of some of the fundamental concepts as well as to include some of the latest information in the area. But if you have just found this website for the very first time, I welcome you again and wish you could find what you require and, hopefully, you could also be benefitted from reading the articles I published on this website.

Please be patient and do come and check out this website frequently as it's being revamped.

Raymond Cheng, PhD DPA FRSA FRSPH

March 28, 2020.


This website is published, edited and designed by Raymond Cheng, and reflects only and only his personal views and opinions in his individual capacity. The information available at this website is not intended directly or by implication to either diagnose or treat any medical, emotional, or psychological condition or disorder. It is also not intended to create a physician-patient relationship between you and I or between you and Wyith Institute™ and The Office of Dr Raymond K K Cheng. The information here is not a substitute for advice and treatment provided by your physician or by another healthcare professional. It is always recommended that consultation with local healthcare providers be obtained for any of your specific health or medical concerns. Furthermore, any products that can be purchased (yet you can see I don't have much to sell here) through advertisers' banners or through links to other websites are not either explicitly or implicitly given any warranty or endorsement by me, my colleagues, Wyith Institute™ or any of its associated businesses.