top of page
  • Writer's pictureRichard Lai

#57: Embrace the Pace of Your Acupuncture Journey: Rediscovering the Heart's Functions

Podcast Version of Episode: Link

Dr. Richard Lai DPT LAc [00:00:00]:

Everyone. Doctor Richard Lai here with Study Acupuncture with me. So if you're new here, I say hello to you. My name is Richard, and I make acupuncture content for busy acupuncturists and acupuncture students just like yourself. Now this episode is on the heart, so we're continuing on with the theme of the heart by going over two important functions of the heart. I've been mulling over the function of the heart because there's been a lot of things on my heart. So I've been looking at the heart functions and seeing how I can apply that to my own life and how I can apply it to the treatments of my patients. And understanding the functions of the heart is really important in understanding the technologies that affect the heart.

Dr. Richard Lai DPT LAc [00:00:37]:

Now the functions that we're gonna review in this episode are, number 1, the heart governs blood, And number 2, the heart houses the mind. And, of course, going back to our roots that study acupuncture with me, I like to start off each episode with a quote that I'd like to share with you. And this quote for this episode is embrace the pace of your own journey. Now what that quote means to me is that we have these preconceived notions about timelines. So we have these preconceived notions of timelines in our life. And whoever set these timelines for us, it's really actually unrealistic. So for example, we have timelines about when we're supposed to get married or when we're supposed to have a house, right? We're supposed to get married first and then have a house and then have certain amount of kids by a certain age. Or we have preconceived notions of timelines that we set for ourselves, like We're supposed to graduate at a certain age or graduate by a certain time or we're supposed to pass the boards by a certain time.

Dr. Richard Lai DPT LAc [00:01:42]:

And when I saw this quote, it felt really relieving because this quote really gave me permission to embrace the pace of my own journey. And I hope sharing this quote with you that it gives you the permission as well, and I hope that it frees you from whatever timelines that you set for yourself or from whatever timelines society has dictated that it should be for someone like you. So for example, like, if you're someone who's 42 years old And you're thinking, oh, it's too late for me to enroll in acupuncture school. I'm gonna be the oldest one there, or, oh, I'm 38 years old. You know, I have to pass the board exam now. I have to pass them all in one try. Right? These are preconceived notions. These are or timelines that we set on ourselves or our family or society has set on us, and they hinder us.

Dr. Richard Lai DPT LAc [00:02:39]:

So we really need to embrace the pace of our own journey. That journey is yours. Your journey is your own, And the sooner you embrace it as your own and you own it as your own, the freer you're gonna be. And the freer, And you're gonna save yourself from a lot of stress because life is long, and we tend to want to rush things. And we underestimate how much we can do with a long enough time span. And I especially say that to myself right now because I want it all. Right? You probably want it all too. I want it all, and I want it now.

Dr. Richard Lai DPT LAc [00:03:17]:

I want the house in a good school district. I want the big back PR, I want everything that's good for my family. And based on my own timeline, I'm not there yet, And I wanna be there. I was supposed to be there 5 years ago, and it stresses me out, and it still stresses me out. But you, the acupuncture community, and my family also. You guys have really helped me out of that hole. And I just wanna say thank you for that. So if you're someone who is experiencing this as well, where you're stressed about graduating, you're stressed about doing certain things by a certain timeframe, like passing the boards within a certain amount of tries or by a certain time frame.

Dr. Richard Lai DPT LAc [00:03:59]:

Just remember, embrace the pace of your own journey. Alright. So now let's get into some acupuncture educational content, which Today, we're gonna talk about 2 important functions of the heart that I've been re reviewing for myself and for my patients, which function number 1 is that the heart that governs blood. Now this had to do with the heart being part of that blood production pathway. Now on the screen, you've seen this blood production pathway. This diagram where the spleen is sending that transformed food essence to the lungs, and it also sends it to the heart. And it's at the heart where that food chi is gonna be transformed into blood. And the heart combines that food chi with kidney ching and original chi.

Dr. Richard Lai DPT LAc [00:04:48]:

So from a clinical standpoint when you're treating your patients. And if your patient's presenting with blood deficiency manifestations, we have to realize that there's a lot of different roots that that blood deficiency could be coming from. So like for example, the spleen. The spleen is on that blood production pathway. Right? The spleen has a function to transform and transport. So it takes the food that we eat and it transforms it into usable food essence, and it sends it to the body for nourishment. One part of that is that it sends it to the lungs and the heart to turn it into blood. The kidney is also part of that as well.

Dr. Richard Lai DPT LAc [00:05:25]:

Right? Kidney jing is on that blood production pathway, And we know that the kidney stores jing. It stores the essence. And then we know also with the liver. The liver has a function where it stores blood. So that's also a part of the blood as well. So if there's spleen deficiency, if there's kidney deficiency, or there's liver chi stagnation, or liver blood deficiency, All of that can cause a general blood deficiency presentation in your patient. Now here on the screen, I'm gonna put a list of all the general blood deficiency manifestations that your patient can present with. So we have things like a dull, white sallow complexion, which a dull white sallow complexion is basically an unhealthy, dull white complexion.

Dr. Richard Lai DPT LAc [00:06:10]:

And we know through differential diagnosis that If your patient's complexion is bright white, then that's indicative of Yang deficiency. But if your patient's presentation is dull white like here, then that's blood deficiency. We also have pale lips. Now pale lips shows us that it's a blood deficiency presentation as well. If the lips were purple, then that could be something like blood stasis, or if the lips are dry, then that could be heat or some sort of dryness that's affecting the patient. We also have here dizziness, we have poor memory, we have numbness and tingling. Now these are all really general blood deficiency manifestations, so when you see them, you think blood deficiency. With poor memory, that manifestation is usually part of the heart because the heart has a function to house the mind.

Dr. Richard Lai DPT LAc [00:06:57]:

Now on this list, we also have here blurry vision. So if you see this word on your exam question, you see blurry vision, then you usually should think liver blood deficiency. And that's because the sense organ of the liver is the eyes. And the liver we know has a function in which it moistens and nourishes the eyes. So if there's a blurry vision, then that's usually indicative of liver blood deficiency. So you can see what I mean when I say there's a lot of general blood deficiency manifestations, but there's a lot of different roots that that blood deficiency can come from. But going back to the function of the heart, which number 1, is that the heart governs blood and the heart is part of that blood production pathway. Now Another thing about that is that the heart is also responsible for circulating blood, so the heart makes sure that all of our tissues are properly nourished.

Dr. Richard Lai DPT LAc [00:07:49]:

And the heart isn't the only organ that does this. It does this with the partnership from our lungs because the lungs, they govern chi, And she, we know, is the commander of blood, so that has a role in circulation. Spleen also has a function to transform and transport, So it transports things especially to the arms and the legs, which is why when you look at a pattern such as spleen chi deficiency, You might see some manifestations like weak limbs or weak arms and legs, and that has to do with the transportation aspect of the spleen because it transports nourishment to the arms and legs. And then the liver also helps out with circulating blood because the liver has a function to store blood, And the storage of blood has 2 facets where liver is gonna determine, is the body resting? So it should bring all the blood back into the liver and let that blood hover. And then the liver knows when to send blood out to the body because it determines that the body is in motion. The body needs that blood at that muscle or at that sinew in order to move appropriately. My point is that even with circulating blood, if your patient presents with poor circulation, You can see how many routes that we just went over. We went over the heart, governing blood, circulating the blood.

Dr. Richard Lai DPT LAc [00:09:05]:

We went over the spleen with the function of transformation and transportation. We talked about the liver with the storing of blood and the moving blood out to the body when it needs it. We talked about the lung, the lung governing chi, and chi being the commander of blood. So as acupuncturists, we need to Keep an open mind when we're evaluating and when we're treating our patients. And we need to use multi organ treatments to affect those general presentations. So blood deficiency, for example, is gonna need involvement from the spleen, from the lung, from the kidney, from the heart, and from the liver. Or if you can pinpoint exactly what the root is, you can specifically cater your treatment to tonify that specific organ. Alright.

Dr. Richard Lai DPT LAc [00:09:45]:

Now function number 2 we're gonna talk about today is that the heart houses the mind. Now the mind is known as our shen. And in school, you probably heard the term shen disturbance. And shen disturbance is someone who, when you look at them, Their lights are on, but nobody's home. You could see it in their eyes. You can see it in their face. You can see it in the way they carry themselves. You can even hear it in the tone of their voice.

Dr. Richard Lai DPT LAc [00:10:12]:

And probably without even realizing it, You've been assessing Shen right from the second you say their name and call them in from the waiting room. Because what happens when you call their name, they look up, And you, you look at them and you see how do they stand up? How fast do they respond to you? You look at their form. You look at their bearing. Form is their posture. Bearing is how they carry themselves. That's a part of the looking pillar. When we evaluate someone in the looking pillar, We're looking at their form and bearing. We're looking how upright their posture is, how strong and tight their muscles, and how good their joints are.

Dr. Richard Lai DPT LAc [00:10:50]:

We're looking at their bearing. How do they carry themselves? Do they carry themselves confidently? How do they stand up? How do they walk? Are they groaning when they get onto the treatment table? All that is an assessment of their bearing. Do they get up slowly from this chair? Do they groan while they stand up Or do they sulk, and are they really sad? Do they look very defeated, or do they stand up and they walk with purpose? That's all a part of Barron. And actually, this is also a part of an assessment of their spirit. So it determines, are they with spirit or are they without spirit? Meaning are they with Shen or are they without Shen? And Shen is housed in the blood. So shen is actually an assessment of the health and status of the blood because when your patient talks to you and they're focused, If they're present, that means their mind is getting enough nourishment from the blood. But if they're not focused, the lights are on, nobody's home, and their spirit is impaired. So that's actually a direct representation of the health and status of chi and blood overall in their body.

Dr. Richard Lai DPT LAc [00:11:58]:

And because the heart houses the mind, the mind is our shen, and the heart governs blood. The assessment of their shen, you can actually drill back to the blood and to the heart. And actually to expand on this even more, Shen is actually inclusive of the other spiritual aspects of the body, which we have 5 of them. We have the ethereal soul, which is the hen, we have the corporeal soul, which is the po, we have the intellect, which is the yi, we have the willpower, which is the z, and then we have the mind, which is the Shen. Now these 5 together, just like the 5 Power Rangers, together they're called the 5 Shen. And each of them actually hold residence in different yin organs. So for example, the mind is housed in the heart. The hun we know is housed in the liver.

Dr. Richard Lai DPT LAc [00:12:47]:

The po is in the lungs. The intellect is in the spleen and the willpower, that's the zi qi, that is in the kidneys. Now in next week's episode, I'm gonna go over the actual characteristics that each of those spiritual aspects have in our body, so please make sure you don't miss that episode. Which that brings us to the end of this episode. And if you're enjoying my content, I wanna let you know that I do have an email list. In my email list, I share more about my life, and I also share some really fun, useful study guides. So don't miss those emails and sign up for the email list at my website. My website is www.studyacu with

Dr. Richard Lai DPT LAc [00:13:28]:

Alright, everyone. Until next time. God bless, and happy studying.


Rate, Review, & Follow on Apple Podcasts

"I loved the way Dr. Lai explained that." <<< If that sounds like you, please rate and review my podcast! This helps me support and reach more people just like you!

Click here, scroll to the bottom of the page and TAP to rate with FIVE STARS and select "WRITE A REVIEW." Then be sure to let me know what you loved most about the episode!

Also, if you haven't already, please follow the podcast. I'm adding episodes frequently, so if you're not following, there's a good chance you'll miss out. Follow now!


Get MONTHLY Study Guides

Join our email list and get access to the latest news and monthly study guides!

bottom of page