I have been consulting the Nei Jing for 35 years initially in its French translation (by Chamfrault) and later in Chinese. As we all know, the Nei Jing is a mine of information and most of the things we do in practice are in this text.

It should be stressed that the Nei Jing was written by many different doctors and edited several times notably during the Song dynasty. For this reason besides containing all the familiar theories, the Nei Jing also has many passages that present unusual theories. This clinical tip and subsequent ones will discuss the more unusual aspects of the Nei Jing, the first one being about the Heart.

The Heart and the Eyes

There are many passages of the Nei Jing that make correlations between a Zang and the sense organ that are different than the usual ones (e.g. Liver and eyes, Lungs and nose, etc.). For example, chapter 81 of the Su Wen correlates the Heart to the eyes. It says “Among the 5 Zang, the Heart is the orifice of the eyes and a good lustre of the eyes is a manifestation of the Heart.”

As we know from diagnosis the lustre of the eyes is a very important manifestation of the state of the Shen. Eyes with lustre indicate a good state of the Shen while dull, lustreless eyes indicate long-standing emotional problems.

Apart from the eyes being the orifice of the Heart from a Shen perspective, the Heart also influences the eyes on a physical level. Chapter 11 of the Ling Shu describes the pathways of the Divergent channels and the Heart Divergent channel goes to the inner corner of the eyes. A redness in the inner corner of the eyes often indicates Heart-Fire and not necessarily Liver-Fire as we may be inclined to conclude (given the close relationship between Liver and eyes).

Another connection between the Heart and eyes is that the Heart Luo channel goes to the eyes.

To treat eye problems related to the Heart such as redness or blood-shot eyes especially in the inner corner the best point is HE-5 Tongli; if there is Heart Fire I would add HE-8 Shaofu.

The Heart and the nose

Of course the nose is the orifice of the Lungs from a 5-Element perspective, but chapter 11 of the Su Wen makes a correlation between the Heart and the nose. It says “The five flavours enter the nose and are stored in the Heart and Lungs. That is why disorders of the Heart and Lungs can cause nasal obstruction.” In case of nasal obstruction related to the Heart I would use HE-9 Shaochong.

The Heart as the Root of Life

We generally refer to the Kidneys as the root of life because they store Jing. Chapter 9 of the Su Wen states that the Heart is the Root of Life. In this context the Heart is considered the root of life because it houses the Shen. In fact this chapter says “The Heart is the Root of Life because it houses the Shen.

This is an interesting statement because it relates the Root of Life both to the Kidneys (because they store Jing) and the Heart because it houses the Shen. This highlights the important connection between Fire and Water and between Heart and Kidneys. In other words our constitution depends not only on the Jing of the Kidneys but also on the Shen of the Heart.

In order to influence the Root of Life of the Heart I would use HE-7 Shenmen and Ren-15 Jiuwei.

The Heart and the Ears

Chapter 4 of the Su Wen makes an unusual correlation between the Heart and the ears. It says “The Heart opens into the ears and stores Jing in the Heart.”

Generally, ear problems such as deafness or tinnitus are related to the Kidneys. However such problems maybe related to the Heart especially when there is a deficiency in the Upper Burner with Heart-Qi not rising to the head. We would know this from the pulse being weak in both cun positions. To treat this type of ear problem related to the Heart I would use HE-5 Tongli.


1. 1979 The Yellow Emperor’s Classic of Internal Medicine-Simple Questions (Huang Ti Nei Jing Su Wen). People’s Health Publishing House, Beijing, first published c. 100 BC, p. 571.

2. Ibid. p. 78.

3. Ibid. p. 60

4. Ibid p. 26