Symptom check: Heart Blood Xu

According to the mental health charity Mind, nearly 1 in 20 of us struggled with an anxiety disorder in 2009. There are several Chinese medicine syndromes that cause anxiety, and the one I see most frequently in my clinic is Heart Blood Xu.


The tell-tale symptoms of Heart Blood Xu include:

  • taking a long time to fall asleep at night

  • being startled easily, e.g. jumping when the phone rings

  • poor short-term memory, e.g. walking into a room and forgetting why you went in there in the first place

  • feeling anxious


What causes Heart Blood Xu?

The main causes of Heart Blood Xu are:

  • a diet lacking in nutrients that your body needs to build blood and muscle, like iron and amino acids

  • losing blood, for example through heavy periods, childbirth, an accident or surgery

  • being in a situation that causes anxiety and worry, like a relationship that doesn’t feel secure


Where could it lead?

Over time, Heart Blood Xu can lead to symptoms that have a bigger impact on daily life, like chronic insomnia and panic attacks. Other physical symptoms can also develop, like heart palpitations and arrhythmias, dizziness when you stand up quickly, scanty periods and blurry vision.


Before you wonder if you need to ask your GP for an ECG, I should mention that the Chinese medical concepts of the Heart and Blood (with a capital ‘H’ and a capital ‘B’) encompass a rage of physiological processes that don’t necessarily have anything to do with your actual heart or blood (little ‘h’, little ‘b’). Even if you have all these symptoms, your heart and blood are probably in good shape.


What can you do about it?

  • Eat the right foods. Increasing your intake of Blood-nourishing foods can make a big difference. These include leafy green vegetables, beetroot, beans, brown rice, oats, grapes, apricots, chicken and eggs. Cutting out the usual culprits (coffee, alcohol and tobacco) will also help.

  • Be still. If you have Heart Blood Xu, it is important to spend some time each day just being still in yourself. Tai Chi Qigong and Mindfulness classes are excellent ways to learn how to do this.

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