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Emotions and Health

There are so many different directions I could take this blog post.  I could tell stories, I could site actual physiological evidence, but I think I’m going to stray out on a limb and actually talk about Chinese Medicine for a change!

One of my favorite uses of Chinese Medicine is for identifying blocks in the channels that are exacerbating or even creating emotional disquiet.  For instance, many times we can look at Migraines when they are diagnosed through the Liver channel as being triggered by stress, anger or frustration.

This changes the way we treat a migraine!  It’s not simply about looking at moving the energy through the liver system, but it’s also about speaking with clients about the stressors in their life and how they are literally affecting their health.

All of the channels have an emotional component, but I would like to focus on the yin channels today.  These channels, because of their yin nature are more subtle, more dark, more hidden, and more sensitive.  They are also the channels we can more quickly shift by addressing the underlying emotions. The yin channels are Liver, Lung, Spleen, Kidney and Heart.


The Liver Channel:  Stress, Anger, Holding

liver meridian

The Liver channel runs from your Big Toe to right under your breast.  It covers a lot of ground and is seen as the General (that’s it’s literal Chinese Meaning)  When we stuff our emotions where do you think they go?  Club Med?  Nope.  They sit and wait until they find a point of weakness and they come out with guns blazing.

Folks with Liver issues typically wake up from 1-3am.  What time do you find yourself coming out of sleep in the middle of the night?

So it depends what type of person you are.  Are you a more A-Type person?  We tend to find a Liver Stagnation pattern in people who work with small children for a living (they have to smile and play nice all day aka stuff their true feelings.)  This would be flight attendants or service staff that are required to be nice no matter what.  It’s also found in people with big personalities.

Typically what we see when emotions get stuffed in this way are migraines and headaches, chronic sinus infections, PMS and menstrual problems, habitual miscarriage, abdominal pain and some type of IBS.  There is also the type of depression that is passive aggressive or out and out aggressive, or when you are stuck in a blame-game about how you got into situations (this is tied with kidneys as well…but it’s a subtle difference.)  We also see a lot of hypertension with this group.

Working with your feelings and truthfully meditation is key here, will help unwind and heal all issues relating to stagnation in your liver channel and all the health concerns that accompany that stagnation.

That being said, sometimes depressed moods are a form of energetic realignment and there is nothing to be done besides keep the best possible attitude and of course, meditation…in whatever form best suits you.


The Lung Channel:  Grief


Ah…Greif.  That is what our sweet lung channel is affected by.  It wakes us up from 3-5 in the Morning.  It’s possible that the liver and lung are in cahoots and you can find yourself not dipping into deep sleep from 1-5.  Good times…been there, don’t that.

Unexpressed or improperly dealt with grief weakens the lungs and consequently your immunity, leaving you more susceptible to colds and flus and whatever else is floating around these days.  It also adds to chronic lung conditions like asthma and even skin conditions like rosacea.   A good stretch for this channel looks like the drawing above.  Arms out to the side and pull energy through your thumb and index finger–stretching your arms out wide to the side.


Spleen Channel:  Over Thinking


This channel gets bogged down by overthinking.  This channel is also affected by low self esteem. This is the yin gut channel!  It’s paired with the stomach which is totally different energetically…but the Spleen is the sweet soft spoken sibling who wants to be liked, and has a hard time keeping boundaries when it’s out of balance.  Meditation and proper eating are key for this channel to be healthy, otherwise you invite in the possibility of things like chronic fatigue, some types of diabetes, gynecological and digestive problems, insomnia, and a general sense of not feeling well emotionally or physically.  Chinese Medicine is one of the best ways to help get a sluggish spleen back on track!

Kidney Channel:  Fear


Kidneys that are out of whack lead to fear.  Not the kind you are supposed to be afraid of, but irrational fears.  They contribute to a sense of being unbalanced and ungrounded.  They correlate with issues of safety and security.  They are often involved with back pain and foot pain.  Any issues related to fear will make any of these conditions worse.  For instance, fears about money and solvency often create low back pain!  Hot foot soaks in Epsom Salts are a great adjunctive therapy to help strengthen the kidneys!


Heart Channel: Joy



The heart channel stores joy…but Joy in over abundance leads to a scattering of the heart qi and feelings of agitation or over-excitement (mania.)  We see this often in people who speak too loudly, or act out inappropriately.  If left unattended heart qi becomes heart fire which leads to insomnia, heart palpitations and comes up a lot when women hit menopause.


As you can see….in Chinese medicine your health and your emotions are intertwined.  Their relationship cannot be overlooked.  And so it is with your overall health.  How are your emotions?  How are you communicating your feelings?  How are you in expressing yourself to others?  Are you grounded and connected?   Are you afraid?  Are you content or manic?  Do you over worry or are you present?  Do you get furious or roll with it?  And how does your health fare?  Just something interesting to explore…

And of course…acupuncture is King when it comes to helping you create this balance!  Make an appointment!  Let’s fix that!