Doctors of Traditional Chinese Medicine when diagnosing illness or disease would evaluate the person in totality. The emotional wellbeing was considered as important as the physical condition along with dietary habits, lifestyle, and disposition. The interaction of the body, mind, and spirit and the pattern of the person’s life provided clues to the source of the illness.
In TCM emotions are listed as the internal cause of disease but only when they are very intense and prolonged over a long period of time, repressed or unacknowledged. Emotions can be the cause of imbalance or they can be a symptom of organ imbalance.
Last week I discussed anger; today I would like to talk about the emotion of sadness. Prolonged sadness weakens both the heart and the lungs. The emotion of sadness initiates in the heart and affects the lungs which are in close proximity. The lungs control the qi (energy) with the intake of breath and sadness depletes the qi. People experiencing intense grief are unable to take a deep breath. Other symptoms of sadness are breathlessness, depression, pressure on the chest, tiredness, and crying. “In women, deficiency of lung qi often leads to blood deficiency and amenorrhea.
Intense sadness or grief can be helped by counseling, acupressure, acupuncture, and exercise. Moving through intense emotions is critical to our overall well being.
Traditional Chinese Medicine considered the body, mind, and emotions as an interactive whole when diagnosing disease. The Chinese identify seven emotions as the internal cause of disease. These emotions are: anger, joy, sadness, worry, pensiveness, shock and fear. Human emotions are generally a healthy part of life; emotions become toxic when they are extremely intense for a prolonged period of time, repressed or denied.
Today I want to discuss the emotions of worry and pensiveness. “Each of the emotions has a particular effect on qi (energy) and affects a certain organ:
- Anger makes qi rise and affects the liver
- Worry and pensiveness knot qi and affect the spleen ( worry also affects the lungs)” Giovanni Macioci
Excessive thinking, studying or mental activity is the definition of pensiveness. This emotion creates exhaustion, loss of appetite, loose stools and weakens the spleen. The spleen is responsible for transforming food and drink into energy (qi) and transporting it to the organs and muscles of the body. The food qi creates energy and blood. The spleen functions also to separate the usable food from unusable, to maintain fluid balance in the body and to support the immune system and healthy blood cells. The emotion associated with the spleen is worry.
In our fast-paced society, worry and pensiveness are extremely common. Demanding studies or occupations can deplete both the spleen and lung energy causing stagnation and formation of phlegm. Symptoms of worry are: anxiety, tight shoulders and neck and breathlessness.
To improve spleen function and counteract worry and pensiveness
- Eat regular meals, mostly cooked food
- Don’t overeat
- Drink room temperature or warmer beverages
- Don’t multitask, be mindful and calm
- Take breaks during your day: walk outside, turn off your phone, meditate, do yoga, tai chi, exercise, have energy work.