Obesity may lead to depression and depression can lead to obesity. Mental and physical health go hand in hand. In Chinese Medicine, the aim is to treat the entire body to restore health through a holistic approach. As mentioned in part 1 of this blog, each organ has a related emotion. This article will look further into the physical and mental connection.
Anger, stress and irritation are the emotions connected with the liver energy from a TCM perspective. Have you ever seen that drunken old man at the pub with a red face and eyes having a go at one of his friends or the barman? In our bodies, the liver detoxifies substances like alcohol. In this setting it is clearly seen that an overload and imbalance of the liver can lead to anger. Similarly, if you are one of those hard wired- busy people who don’t stop to get a rest and you notice yourself being increasingly irritable, think carefully as you may be causing damage to your liver for the future.
Grief, sadness and despair are related to the lungs. Ask any lung specialist and they may tell you that asthma is commonly associated with depression and skin diseases such as eczema. In Chinese medicine we also believe that the ‘lungs open upon, and govern the skin’. Perhaps you have noticed also, that when one is feeling a bit down or depressed, when we are kept inside and being sluggish, or when an emotional event such as a death occurs, we may actually develop a cough.
Joy is usually perceived as a positive emotion, it is, yet when anything occurs out of balance it is hazardous. Excessive joy such as manic or grandeur behavior or bipolar syndrome can impact dangerously on the heart.
Think of when people have heart attacks. Its when something scares them either in a positive joyful or fearful way (fear in TCM relates to the kidneys, which has a strong connection to the heart). Similarly, in Chinese medicine if you have a heart disorder it may display itself in a super bubbly over the top, overly selfless natured person (who may often collapse and breakdown when they go home!)
Fear relates to the kidneys. Do you know an elderly person who begins to ruminate and fear things they never used to? This is because in Chinese medicine, our kidney energy declines as we age. Perhaps your gran never used to have a problem with locking doors at night, but now she checks them 5 times each! She never used to worry about you climbing a tree or staying out late, but now you have to tell her every tick of the clock what you are doing so she doesn’t have to fear.
When we age our kidney energy declines and our fear grows, the most notable signs may be frequent urination, urination at night, lower back pain, knee pain and memory loss.
Overthinking and the intellect may not seem to be a traditional emotion however in TCM, it is said to relate to the spleen/stomach and digestive system. This is dangerous in our modern food and diet driven society!
Think of how much thinking we do about what foods to eat, how many calories there are here, how much sugar is there in this, how much fat in that? Is it paleo, vegan or fruitarian?
Anorexia is a perfect example. Was it the original thought pattern that affected the digestion or was it the digestion that caused the mental problem? Same with obesity, over thinking about foods and calories just complicates the issue, that is why Chinese medical diet therapy is quite different!
Chinese Medicine diet therapy takes away the calorie focus of the diet and instead focuses on the ‘natures’ of foods and how to cook using a proper balance. This method is more logical and involves much less thought when incorporated into your lifestyle.
Becoming aware of our emotions and creating a balance in our lives means we can help prevent internal disease in the future!