EYS TCM Clinic

Emotions and Organs: A Deep Connection

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Emotions and Organs: A Deep Connection

Have you ever wondered why anger seems to knot your stomach or why grief makes your chest feel heavy? 

Emotions aren't just fleeting experiences; they're like threads weaving through the fabric of our lives, influencing our health and well-being in ways we might not always recognise. Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) sees emotions as intertwined with our organs and the elements they represent. When everything's in sync, it's like a beautiful symphony. But throw in some disharmony, and it's more like a clamour of noise.

Here’s how five key emotions can cause imbalances and impact physical health:

1. Anger

  • Organ: Liver

  • Effects: Anger causes the ‘Qi’ to rise, disrupting its smooth flow. This can result in tension, frustration, headaches, dizziness, and hypertension. Over time, chronic anger may lead to liver damage, affecting detoxification and digestion.

  • Symptoms: High blood pressure, migraines, digestive issues, and menstrual irregularities.

2. Overjoy 

  • Organ: Heart

  • Effects: While joy is generally positive, excessive joy or overexcitement can overstimulate the heart, leading to a scattering of the Heart ‘Qi’. This may cause restlessness, insomnia, palpitations, and general anxiety.

  • Symptoms: Heart palpitations, insomnia, agitation, and difficulty concentrating.

3. Grief

  • Organ: Lungs

  • Effects: Sadness and grief deplete the Lung ‘Qi’, weakening the lungs and immune system. This can lead to respiratory issues, fatigue, and a diminished ability to ward off infections.

  • Symptoms: Shortness of breath, frequent colds, and a weakened immune system.

4. Worry and Overthinking

  • Organ: Spleen

  • Effects: Excessive worry and overthinking impair the Spleen's ability to transform and transport food and fluids. This can lead to digestive issues, muscle tension, and a weakened ability to assimilate nutrients.

  • Symptoms: Digestive problems, weight gain or loss, muscle fatigue, and decreased energy levels.

5. Fear

  • Organ: Kidneys

  • Effects: Fear depletes Kidney ‘Qi’, affecting the kidneys and adrenal glands. This can result in issues with growth and development, problems related to water metabolism and reproductive health.

  • Symptoms: Lower back pain, urinary problems, reproductive issues, and feelings of chronic fatigue.

This intricate interplay underscores the dynamic equilibrium necessary for optimal health and well-being. When one element dominates or is weakened, disharmony ensues, leading to physical ailments, emotional disturbances, or mental imbalances. 

So how do we find balance? 

Understanding the intricate web of connections between the Five Elements, organs, and emotions is essential for cultivating holistic health in TCM. To manage these imbalances, it's important to address both their emotional and physical aspects. 

Here are detailed tips for each emotion:

1. Managing Anger 😠

  • Exercise: Engage in physical activities such as jogging, swimming, or martial arts to release pent-up energy and reduce tension.

  • Acupressure and Acupuncture: Seek treatments targeting the Liver meridian to promote the smooth flow of ‘Qi’.

  • Diet: Avoid excessive alcohol and spicy foods, and incorporate cooling foods like cucumber, mint, and green leafy vegetables.

2. Managing Excessive Joy 😊

  • Moderation: Cultivate a balanced lifestyle to avoid overstimulation. Practice mindfulness to remain grounded.

  • Relaxation Techniques: Engage in relaxation techniques like deep breathing exercises and progressive muscle relaxation.

  • Herbal Remedies: Use calming herbs like valerian root, chamomile, and lavender to soothe the mind.

3. Managing Sadness and Grief 😢

  • Social Connections: Maintain strong social connections and seek support from friends and family.

  • Breathing Exercises: Practice deep breathing exercises to strengthen Lung ‘Qi’ and improve respiratory function.

  • Outdoor Activities: Spend time in nature to uplift your mood and enhance Lung capacity.

4. Managing Worry and Overthinking😟

  • Balanced Diet: Avoid excessive sugar and processed foods. Eat warm, cooked meals that support Spleen health, like oats, sweet potatoes, and carrots.

  • Exercise: Regular physical activity helps reduce stress and improve digestive function.

  • Herbal Support: Use herbs such as ginger, cinnamon, and licorice root to strengthen the Spleen and improve digestion.

5. Managing Fear 😨

  • Hydration: Drink plenty of water to support Kidney function.

  • Kidney Health: Keep your lower back warm and practice exercises that strengthen the lower back and kidneys, like yoga or Tai Chi.

  • Diet: Incorporate foods that nourish the kidneys, such as black beans, walnuts, and seaweed.

  • Therapy: Engage in therapy to address underlying fears and anxieties.

The Five Elements Theory of TCM offers a captivating lens through which to view your health and emotions. So the next time you feel a surge of excitement that leaves your heart racing and your body tingling with anticipation, remember the elemental forces at play and let them guide you toward inner harmony.

By addressing both the emotional and physical aspects of health, you can effectively manage emotional imbalances and promote overall well-being. If you're seeking guidance on your journey to wellness, our team of experts is here to assist you in creating a personalised path to wellness.


Related Articles

How TCM Works

TCM treats the mind, body and spirit as a single entity. This holistic approach is derived from fundamental beliefs in the Chinese culture, which emphasise the inseparable nature of Man with the Universe, as well as the need for balance and harmony.

When a person’s vital life force, known as Qi (气, pronounced “chi”), flows smoothly through the body, it establishes a balance between his spiritual, emotional, mental and physical realms. Similarly, the person needs to function in harmony with his environment, which includes acclimatising himself to the climate and the changes in his daily lifestyle.

If that flow and balance is upset, disease and illness will arise.

TCM employs a system of diagnosis, therapy and medication to restore that balance by boosting the body’s immune system in an attempt to fight off pathogens.

A TCM treatment usually includes a combination of medicinal herbs, nutritional therapies, physical treatments such as acupuncture, moxibustion, cupping, massage or Tuina, and therapeutic exercises such as taichi and related breathing techniques.

Understanding Basic TCM Terms

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) is an ancient art of healing and an increasingly accepted practice around the world. Rooted in the ancient philosophy of Taoism, TCM dates back to more than 2,500 years ago.

Here is a quick guide on the meanings behind commonly used TCM words.

Five Elements

The 5 elements are: wood, fire, earth, metal and water. Each has a specific characteristic as illustrated below:

Qi

A person’s vital life force, it is the source of energy flow in one’s body. If the qi is up and running, everything is in harmony. If the qi is weak or imbalance, illness and disease will occur.

Meridian Systems

The body has 12 principal meridian channels, and its primary focus is to carry and distribute qi, body fluids and blood to every part of the body. Meridians do not have anatomical structures. Along these 12 channels, lie acupoints. There are approximately 365 acupuncture points. Each point belongs to a particular meridian channel that connects to specific organs.

Yin vs. Yang

TCM considers the world as a single unit and its movement gives rise to yin and yang. The two opposing yet interdependent forces must maintain balance, and one cannot dominate the other. It is a concept used to diagnose patterns of disharmony and determine treatments to restore balance.

The 5 Organs & their roles

The Liver System

Role: Regulates the qi movement throughout the body.

Function: The Liver stores sufficient blood, boosts the digestive functions of the Spleen, nourishes the eyes from blood stored in the Liver and ensures proper movement of tendons preventing symptoms like spasms, numbness of limbs and difficulty bending or stretching.

The Spleen System

Role: Assists with digestion, and governs blood flow and fluid metabolism in the body.

Function: Transform food into essence used for qi and blood transformation. Our spleen’s health is reflected in lips, mouth and movement of the limbs and muscles.

The Lung System

Role: Regulars qi movement necessary for blood circulation, fluid metabolism, the autonomic nervous system and the immune system.

Function: Controls the circulation of qi and blood to moisten skin and body hair. When these functions are weakened, skin and hair become dull, rough and dry.

The Heart System

Role: Regulates the cardiovascular system while maintaining the nervous system’s functions. Qi from a health heart maintains an efficient blood flow in the blood vessels.

Function: The heart stores the “spirit”, an individual’s vitality. This ensures optimum mental, cognitive and intellectual abilities.

The Kidney System

Role: Regulates the urinary system, and controls the reproductive and nervous systems.

Function: The kidney stores ‘Jing’, an essential substance for bone growth, closely associated with life. Dental problems, hair loss, immature hair greying, hearing problems and urinary tract disorders are all signs of disharmony in the kidney system.

Acupuncture

It is a physical treatment that uses hair-thin needles at specific points on the body. Acupuncture helps to restore balance, clear blockage within the meridians and strengthens qi. It is commonly used in pain management, arthritis, depression, allergic rhinitis and other health issues.

Cupping

It is a physical treatment that uses glass or bamboo cups that are warmed to create a partial vacuum, so that a suction force can be created on the skin’s surface. Cupping helps to activate the lymphatic system promote blood circulation and aid deep tissue repair.

Tuina

It is a combination of massage, acupressure and other forms of body manipulation by applying pressure to acupoints, Meridians and groups of muscles or nerves to remove blockages that prevent the free flow or circulation of qi and blood.

Post-Treatment Care Guide

Acupuncture and cupping are common techniques used in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) to address a wide range of health conditions. It is vital to take proper care of yourself after undergoing acupuncture/cupping/scraping treatment. 

To optimise the benefits of your acupuncture or cupping session and minimise potential side effects, follow these essential aftercare guidelines:

1. Rest and Unwind:

After your session, prioritize relaxation and avoid strenuous activities, exercise, or heavy lifting for at least 24 hours. Intense activities may interfere with the therapeutic effects of the treatment.

2. Hydration is Key:

Stay well hydrated by drinking plenty of warm water post-session. This aids in flushing out toxins and rehydrating your muscles and tissues.

3. Keep Warm:

Cover treated areas or dress warmly to support your body's healing process. When necessary, consider warm compresses for pain relief, and avoid drafts, exposure to direct wind, or cold temperatures. Cupping opens pores and channels, making the body susceptible to external elements like wind and cold. 

4. Mind Your Diet:

Refrain from dairy, processed meats, sugary foods, alcoholic beverages, and caffeine for at least 24 hours post-treatment, as they may hinder the healing process.

5. Monitor Symptoms:

Be aware of the benefits, side effects, and overall experience. Your feedback is valuable for both you and your practitioner.

6. Self-Care Practices:

Incorporate self-care activities such as meditation, gentle stretching, and deep breathing exercises into your daily routine to sustain the advantages of your session.

7. No Swimming for the Day:

Avoid swimming for the remainder of the day to prevent dampness and getting chilled, which can counteract the benefits of the session.

8. Steer Clear of Hot Therapies:

Avoid hot showers, saunas, and hot tubs after treatment, as they may exacerbate inflammation or bruising.

9. Sun Protection:

Refrain from direct sun exposure for 24 hours post-treatment, as your skin may be more sensitive and prone to sunburn.

10. Avoid Driving if Lightheaded:

If you feel lightheaded or giddy, refrain from driving. Rest until you feel better or let someone else take the wheel.


As with any medical treatment, acupuncture and cupping may have some potential side effects. Here are some possible side effects to be aware of:

  • Soreness or Bruising: Mild soreness or bruising at the treatment site, which should subside within a few days. 

(Note: The cupping marks are the results of stagnation which can include dead blood cells, old lymph fluid, and toxins that the body has not been able to eliminate via its circulatory system. )

  • Dizziness or Light-Headedness: Some may experience dizziness or light-headedness during or after treatment. It is a temporary sensation due to changes in blood pressure or circulation.

  • Fatigue and Drowsiness: Normal response as treatments stimulate the nervous system and promote relaxation.

  • Minor Bleeding: Acupuncture needles may cause minor bleeding, especially on acupoints on the head/face as many capillaries lie below the skin of the face. Cupping may cause skin irritation or even blisters.

  • Emotional Release:  Treatments like acupuncture and cupping can sometimes trigger an emotional release like emotional, tearful, or overwhelmed. This is a normal response to the stimulation of certain points in the body and can be an important aspect of the healing process.

We encourage you to embrace these aftercare guidelines for a holistic and effective recovery. If you experience any concerns, reach out to our physicians for support. Your well-being is our priority.

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