Meaning of Dreams in Chinese Medicine

Do dreams have meanings? Does it foretell a future event? Is there a meaning in dreams, especially recurring bad ones? What about sweet dreams or fearful dreams?


I get asked this quite a bit but I am unable to help as this is not my area of expertise. In fact dreams interpretation is a separate discipline by itself.

Recently I read a book on Chinese Medicine and there is a part on how dreams can assist in medical diagnosis. It is from the Yellow Emperor’s Medicine Classic – Miraculous Pivot. I find it extremely interesting and I would like to share some of their findings with you.

According to the classic, fearful dream is a result of deficiency of qi in the heart and gallbladder. It can also be due to a prolonged illness or excessive anxiety.

Angry dream is due to stagnation of qi in the liver and gallbladder or hardening of the liver. It can also be due to the presence of gallstones. On the other hand, happy dream is due to the smooth flow of qi and indicate quick recover even if you should fall ill.

Sad dream is due to deficiency of qi in the heart and lung, deficiency of yin in the liver as with chronic liver disease and tuberculosis. Melancholic dream is due to imbalance in the liver and spleen.

What about dreams where you are continuous striving for something? This is due to reverse flow of qi in the liver and gallbladder and rising of yang in the liver for example with hypertension and poor food digestion.

Floating and falling in dreams are amongst the most common type of dreams. Floating dream is due to excess in the upper part of the body but deficiency in the lower parts like deficiency of the kidneys, excess phlegm or coronary heart disease. Falling dream is due to deficiency in the upper and excess in the lower part. This is often seen in water retention in the kidneys and deficiency of yang in the heart.

What is the meaning of the dream of looking for food and water? Looking for food dream imply a weak spleen and deficiency of yin in the stomach. Looking for water dream imply excessive yang and depletion of bodily fluids for example due to high fever or dehydration.

What about looking for toilet dream? According to the classic, this dream is often caused by painful urination, inflammation of the intestines, poor digestion or diarrhoea.

Finally what is the cause of the most serious form of dreams, sleep walking? It is usually due to stagnation of qi in the liver or distractions!

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