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Diagnosing the Heart with Chinese Medicine

  • Hypertension
  • Hypotension
  • Arrhythmia,tachycardia or bradycardia
  • Anxiety
  • Lack of concentration and memory
  • Stroke
  • Cardio-vascular accidents

These are some of the all too common symptoms or diseases that refer to our heart and its’ physical or emotional suffering. Actually, within the Oriental model, you cannot distinguish between the two. A broken heart is a reality and hurts our heart organ. A weak heart will make it more difficult to withstand emotional challenges. In the Oriental model, our heart houses our “Shen” or spirit and is always affected by all our emotions while all of our emotions are affected by the health of our heart.

We know from all of our cardiology wards today, that meat, saturated fats, cheese, greasy foods and alcohol are common culprits damaging the delicate drum within our chest. Hearts like light vibrations. They enjoy rivers of blood that flow easily and nourish them with that nutrient rich red color that is the color of a vibrant and healthy heart.

Emotionally, our hearts resonate with warmth, gentle joy, love and zest for life. Oriental medicine associates our hearts with the Fire energy. Our hearts are literally the suns of our body’s inner planetary system. Because they are our inner fires, however, it also means that they need to be diligently fed and protected. Fires, as we know too well in the West, get easily out of control. Overheated and fiery hearts create roaring destructive winds and are easily ignited by strong emotional or physical winds. We need to use caution with “water fire” as Indians called alcohol for example or anything, like sugar, fat or meat that overheats our system.

Cardiovascular diseases are the number one killer in our Western societies and our hearts give way well before it is their time to stop their beating. What is going on? What is the compass that we have lost?


Oriental medicine offers very practical tools for diagnosing our heart.

Facial diagnosis, for those who know how to read, is an excellent tool for diagnosis. We literally carry our heart on our face!

Parts of Facial diagnosis

  • Our complexion: Is it red or white? Our complexion reflects the quality of our blood, its richness or lack of nutrients. Red shows excess heat, pale shows lack of food and a bluish complexion indicates stagnation.
  • Our nose: enlarged tips, clefts on the tip of our nose indicate enlarged heart; clefts might be genetic, however, they still indicate an imbalance that requires attention and care.
  • The color of our lips: Just like our complexion, they should be a beautiful red. Scarlet red indicates heat and pale lips indicates anemia. Bluish tints indicates stagnation or stasis, which means rivers of blood that are not flowing freely.

There are other indicators of our heart health such as pulse rhythm, speed or palpitations.

The tip of our tongue is the place where Chinese medicine practitioners read the health of the heart and the heat caused by our level of stress.

Because our tongue is “the sprout of the heart,” the quality of our speech is also an indicator of our cardiovascular health. Strained voices, loud voices, angry voices, weak voices are all indicators of our “Shen” or spirit, housed in the heart. The good news is that we can strengthen our heart through working on our speech, slowing it down through breathing, making it more harmonious. We can harmonize it with poetry, singing, music and transforming our voice into a a direct projection of our inner heart spirit, our deep “Shen”.

Below are a couple of pictures to illustrate imbalance in the heart. Unfortunately, our politicians generally suffer from poor cardiovascular health. Here are a few current “readings”…please be advised that these pictures do not represent comments on the people themselves, but the easiest facial readings I could find at the moment. There are plenty others and you can play with it yourself. As is known in Chinese medicine tradition, “Your Face Never Lies” (a book written by Japanese teacher, Michio Kushi.)

 Donald Trump:


From his ears and ear lobes and from his bushy eyebrows, one can see that Mr Trump is blessed with a strong constitution, a very strong will and indomitable spirit. The back side of a strong constitution though is that it makes it easy to abuse one’s health and lose sight of the limitations of even a big “capital” One can see that Mr Trump has mismanaged his liver (lines between eyebrows and excess fat stressing the gallbladder), which makes him prone to anger and acting in domineering ways. His complexion reddens easily, his neck is swollen, the tip of his nose is enlarged and his lips are scarlet red, all of which indicate stress on the heart and increases risk of cerebral and cardiovascular accident. There is obvious engorgement of blood and stasis in his arteries. Undoubtedly, Mr Trump relishes meat, cheese and rich foods, which contributes to his excess weight and the excess “fire” reflected in the redness of his complexion. He is at high risk for diseases associated with obesity, stress and heart imbalance such as diabetes. He most probably suffers from at least occasional hypertension. However, Mr Trump is more likely to suffer from a sudden and acute cardiovascular accident than from a slow and chronic disease.

Bill Clinton

President Clinton is also someone who suffered from heart disease and underwent several bypasses. Again one can see signs of cardiovascular problems in his enlarged and split tip of the nose as well as the redness of his complexion. Unlike Mr Trump, Mr Clinton does not have such a strong constitution and his eyebrows denote some adrenal weakness, as does the fact that his hair turned white early (like many presidents actually, including President Obama). After Chelsea, President Clinton’s daughter, convinced him to switch to a pretty much vegan diet, one can see the change in his appearance.Even if we take photoshop touch up into consideration, one can see a noticeable difference in the tip of his nose, much less bulbous and swollen.


Mrs Clinton also shows a somewhat enlarged tip of the nose, which could relate to hypertension and reflects her past history of blood clots. Her doctor actually released a report saying she is taking an anti-coagulant. The deep circles under her eyes are more indicative of adrenal and kidney fatigue. Her doctor also released the fact that Mrs Clinton is also taking thyroid medication, an hormonal imbalance, which, in Chinese medicine, is associated with kidney health reflected around the eyes. Her recent weight gain does indicate a slow metabolism and, unlike Mr Trump’s weight gain, is more the result of a deficient condition than an excess one. Her weight is also more associated, in my opinion, to excess egg, chicken and dairy consumption creating imbalance in her spleen and liver (yellow tint to her complexion) than to excess beef or pork as in the case of Mr Trump. The excess dairy blocking her lungs also explains her often commented fits of cough and seasonal allergies.

hillary clinton

We criticize our politicians but they certainly suffer from the same craziness that permeates all of our modern world…impossible deadlines and tasks, constant performance, no room for weakness or emotional display. Our politicians might display their facial diagnosis on TV screens for anyone who can read them. But they are also mirrors of what we are all doing to ourselves in our expectations.


I will finish with a before and after picture of President Obama showing how quickly he aged during his presidency. What we call the “jing” or kidney reserves got exhausted as reflected in President Obama’s hair turning white so quickly. Lack of sleep shows in the drooping eyelids, the deepened darkness and deeper lines around his eyes.

Who wants the job of president? I do not think I would want it. Would you?

In the meantime, if you would like a quick diagnosis and assessment of your heart health, come to the clinic for a 15 minute FREE consultation of pulse, tongue and facial reading. Just say the magic password: “preciousheart

As for making your heart stronger, it is easy! Come to the park and join the Qi Gong for Heart Challenge.

Liliane Papin

Dr. Liliane Papin is a licensed Chinese Medicine Doctor who focuses on a holistic approach to health care, blending the ancient art of Oriental medicine with modern science.  Her new ebook, Where is the Calcium? and Spring Cooking | Liver Cleansing are now on sale.

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