In traditional Chinese medicine and acupuncture, the relationship between health and emotions are extremely important, and when I am diagnosing illness, I always examine the persons emotional balance to help correct any underlying causes which may exacerbate problems.
Some people may wonder how emotions can interfere with the physical body, but if you have ever felt angry or stressed and then noticed how neck pain can develop soon after as the anger aggravates ligaments and tendons through the liver organ, you can see the reality of this. The phrase “a pain in the neck” wasn’t just plucked out of thin air. Frustration and anger cause neck pain!
The six emotions
as detailed in the Nei jing (a classic study of Chinese medicine presented to the Chinese emperor) are listed below:
These in turn will affect a certain organ, (or possibly more than one, as we shall see)
Anger primarily affects the Liver. Anger is a very broad term, and I also include frustration, resentment, indignation etc within this category. An angry liver is not good, as not only does it cause problems for the liver itself, it can also “invade” other organs causing patterns such as Liver invades stomach, which is essentially stomach problems brought on by stress.
Joy in itself is obviously not a cause of disease, so again this should be taken in a broad context. Joy, normal calm contentment is a fantastic state for the body, so what this refers to is a state of excitement and stimulation that is continual (no matter how pleasurable the stimulation). This pattern usually reflects in people with a ‘play hard’ lifestyle. This kind of lifestyle can injure the heart, causing palpitations and other heart related issues.
Sadness, (and I include grief within this) will affect the lungs primarily, and the heart secondarily. I often treat people for asthma, and the amount of those people whose symptoms started after a bereavement is uncanny. There is an acupuncture point specifically for grief, called lung 7, which is incredible in its ability to help people recover.
Worry /pensiveness/overthinking most often affects the spleen, and is also affected by the spleen. People with spleen issues often just repeat the same thoughts over and over, even though thinking about whatever it is will not affect the outcome in any way.
The spleen is paired with the stomach, so people with spleen based issues often have digestive issues, a problem with a lack of muscle tone, and a sagging of the muscles of the body and face.
Fear is the emotion pertaining to the kidneys, and anxiety or panic attacks are included within this. Constant fear or anxiety can manifest itself in breathing issues, low pitch tinnitus, urinary problems, aches in the bones, fertility issues and many other issues.
Shock is in a slightly different category, as its effects are felt in two separate organs of heart and kidney, and manifestations of those are detailed above.
All of these organs work in a mutuality with the specific emotion. As an example, anger will damage the liver organ, but impaired liver organ function will make you angry and irritable, and treatment would have the aim of relieving the anger, as well as treating the liver function. Acupuncture is great at balancing emotions, and it does it remarkably quickly.
I hope you enjoyed reading this very simplified overview of the emotions. If you have any questions, please feel free to visit my website www.swlondonaccupuncture.co.uk and leave a comment.
Myles Glover Dip.ac Dip.Tui na