Because emotions are a powerful motivating force, Chinese medicine practitioners often look for an emotional cause to the imbalances that occur within the body. Before a treatment, we may ask you about your emotional state during the week: moodiness, depression, anger or anxiety. To first-time patients, these questions may appear strange, personal or irrelevant to their health condition. However, because emotions have a cor-responding association with one of the five major organ systems, emotions can give us useful insight into your state of health. Here are the basic emotions and their related organ systems:
Anger relates to the Liver. In Chinese medicine, the Liver represents the Wood element and is responsible for smooth transitions between emotions. Wood must be supple like green bamboo and able to bend in the wind (the many challenges in our lives). If Wood is hard and dry, it reflects anger or frustration, which leads to internal imbalance.
Fear is associated with the Water element, corresponding to the Kidneys, reproductive and endocrine systems. If a patient frequently experiences anxiety, the Water and Fire elements may be imbalanced. Herbs for this condition may include lily bulb that nourishes the Water element and calms the Fire, thereby reducing fear and anxiety.
Worry relates to excessive thinking, corresponding to the Earth element and the Spleen. Often people who call themselves worriers will have a digestive imbalance and difficulty with their weight.
Sadness often relates to loss and is stored in the Lungs, corresponding to the Metal element. Patients who have experienced a significant loss may have respiratory problems. When our Metal element is not strong, but we are strongly attached to a person, thing or situation, we have difficulty letting go. Chi gong and exercise strengthen the Lungs.
Joy is associated with the Heart, corresponding to the Fire element. The heart is connected to every cell by pumping blood throughout the body and by electrical impulses. Joy is a positive emotion that in excess causes overexcitement. The heart responds best to gentle, calm joy that warms the spirit.
It is important that we do not dwell on and get stuck by our emotions, but let them flow naturally until released.