How Your Emotions Affect Your Health

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Anger  

Anger is associated with the liver. By its nature, anger causes qi to rise, leading to a red face and red eyes, headaches, and dizziness. This matches the pattern of liver fire rising. Anger can also cause liver qi to “attack the spleen,” producing lack of appetite, indigestion, and diarrhea(often experienced by those people who argue at the dinner table or eat while driving).

In a more long-term view, suppressed anger or frustration often causes liver qi to become stagnant; this might result in depression or menstrual disorders. It is interesting to note that people who take herbs to release stagnant liver qi often experience bouts of anger as the stagnation is relieved. The anger passes as the condition clears. Similarly, anger and irritability are often the determining factors in diagnosing liver qi stagnation. Many people are relieved to know their rage has a physiologic basis. It is essential to avoid drinking coffee when treating anger-related liver disorders, as coffee heats the liver and greatly intensifies the condition.

Grief  

The lungs are more directly involved with this emotion. A normal and healthy expression of grief can be expressed as sobbing that originates in the depths of the lungs – deep breathes and the expulsion of air with the sob. However, grief that remains unresolved and becomes chronic can create disharmony in the lungs, weakening the lung qi (vital energy). This, in turn, can interfere with the lung’s function of circulating qi (vital energy) around the bode.

Worry

A very common emotion in our stress-filled society, worry can deplete the energy of the spleen. This can cause digestive disturbances and eventually lead to chronic fatigue: A weakened spleen cannot efficiently turn food into qi, and the lungs are unable to extract qi from air efficiently. A person who worries too much “carries the weight of the world on her shoulders,” a good description of how a person feels when her weak spleen qi leads to dampness. Treatment would include moxa and herbs that strengthen the spleen, allowing a person the energy to deal with life’s problems instead of dwelling on them.

Stress

Doctors have long known that a stressed life does no favors for the heart, and new research may help unravel why that’s so. Stress takes a toll not only on your body but also on your mind. It weakens you mentally and holds you back from being able to think straight. This affects your work and makes you perform badly. Chronic stress increases the stress hormone cortisol and affects many brain functions, putting you at risk for various mood disorders and other mental issues.

Chronic stress and high levels of cortisol create long-lasting brain changes.

Effects of stress:

  • You have a greater stroke risk
  • You have a higher depression risk

  • Your brain doesn’t learn as well

Fear

The emotion of fear is related to the kidneys. This relationship can readily be seen when extreme fear causes a person to urinate uncontrollably. In children, this can also manifest as bed-wetting, which psychologists have linked to insecurity and anxiety. Long-term anxiety due to worrying about the future can deplete the kidneys of yin, yang, and qi, eventually leading to chronic weakness. Treatment involves tonifying the kidneys with yin or yang tonics, depending on the particular symptoms.

 

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