How do Emotions affect health according to Chinese Medicine?
Both our health and Illness are dictated by the flow of Qi (your vital energy). When Qi is plentiful and flowing smoothly, then we suffer no illness and have a long life. Unfortunately many things can disrupt the flow of our Qi, and further upset the balance of yin and yang.
The causes emotional issues can be many in Chinese Medicine, a large part of its strength is every person is unique. Therefore so is their pathology.
Ailments like anxiety and stress come from emotions which have caused our Qi flow to become blocked. If Qi doesn’t flow smoothly, neither do our emotions. If the blocked Qi flow causes an imbalance towards too much downward yin energy, then we become upset, lethargic, withdrawn and even lose our appetite.
If the blockages cause more an excessive Yang response, then you can become angry, frustrated and even suffer headaches.
our Emotional Health in Chinese Medicine is largely influenced by our Liver, whose job is to keep Qi flowing smoothly. This is why people who abuse drugs and alcohol, can end up with health issues, as their Liver has become blocked and weak from the substance abuse.
The origin of the illness though is not always in the Liver. Many people can become stressed after the death of a loved one, or chronic illness, all of which weaken your overall Qi. Depending on each individuals constitution, symptoms can manifest differently. Some suffer from a tight chest, nausea, insomnia or worry, whereas someone else who has an inherently weak digestion may develop IBS like symptoms.
Our whole psyche is housed in our Heart, which is called ‘Shen’, this is our spirit and what makes each of us unique. The brain is for thought and memory, but our unique spirit resides in the Heart. This is why when we experience excessive emotions, many people feel palpitations or a tight chest, as the Qi in the Heart is becoming knotted.
Emotions and Diet in Chinese Medicine
As I say in my diet page, “we truly are what we eat”. This not only pertains to our physical form, but our emotional state as well. A poor diet leads to accumulation of Yin dampness, which can impede the flow of Qi, causing our minds to become malnourished and causing symptoms such as fatigue or poor memory, worry or frustration.
good healthy diet means our mind is well nourished, not just our muscles and organs. A vicious cycle often occurs when people are feeling down or angry, where they crave sweets or binge on junk food, which often leaves them feeling worse.
This is why I always educate my clients on the importance of a healthy diet! Modern research is finding that there is a strong link called the ‘gut-brain-axis’, whereby the health of your digestive tract has a strong influence on the function/production of neurotransmitters in the brain.
Foods to eat in moderation
- Soft drinks and alcohol
- Processed foods and take away meals
- Excessive amounts of dairy and oils (even good fats)
- Don’t eat heavy wheat based meals (pasta and bread) more than once a day