In modern society, an illness is no longer considered just the problems of the physical aspect of the body. Very often, the emotional state of the patient can be a contributing factor, if not the primary cause, of their illness.
Today we typically believe that the brain commands the emotions and mental activities, but in the tradition of Western culture, the true source of our emotions is deeply rooted in the heart. We say “I love you from the bottom of my heart”, “heart bursting with joy”, “heart is full”, “my heart is broken”, instead of saying “I love you with my brain” or “brain wrenching”, etc. On the surface, the heart of the issue seems to be that in the West we think with our brains, feel with our hearts, and go with our guts. But if we look deep into Western traditions, some similar philosophies to Eastern culture can be found. When people say “know by heart”, or “take it to heart”, we put the heart in charge of the conscious and subconscious awareness in the same way Chinese medicine believes; when people say “heart to heart”, “heart of steel” or “heart of gold”, it suggests people still intuitively identify their sense of self with the heart. In Chinese medicine, the Heart governs both the mind and the spirit, and therefore represents a more holistic and less isolated approach.
While there’s a recognition of biofeedback based upon heart-brain connection in both cultures, the difference in Western and Eastern medicine is that Eastern medicine takes the heart-brain connection, and furthermore the heart-body connection, more seriously. Traditional Chinese medicine in particular uses it in a more practical way within everyday diagnosis and treatment instead of treating the body with medicine, treating the mind with science, and treating the spirit with religion - as is commonly done in modern Western society.
Heart is considered the monarchy organ in Chinese medicine, which means Heart not only dominates the blood circulation of the body, but also guides our consciousness and awareness, memory and intellect, emotions and mental activities. When the Heart is strong, we sleep soundly, think clearly and have a good memory, and we have balanced emotions and consciousness. When there are disorders in the Heart, we might experience memory and concentration deficiencies, poor sleep, moodiness and even madness in some extreme cases. In Traditional Chinese medicine we tend to look at a person as a complete system and treat both the emotions and the physical body. Consequently, when we treat, we treat the whole person and we put our hearts into it.
According to the Eastern ancient medicine, the positive energy of the Heart is essential to the good health of the entire body. In order to cultivate the energy of the Heart, one should focus on maintaining a positive outlook and worrying less, seeking peace and tranquility being driven by compassion instead of desires, keeping a regular sleep and eating schedule, and exploring nature often.
The foods that are good for the heart are usually red, because the Heart is the fire organ according to the five element theory and the color red corresponds to the fire element too. These foods include red berries, tomatoes and watermelon; some red meat also helps to nourish heart blood, but remember another important principle of Eastern medicine: everything in moderation.