Emotion Commotion

We all have emotions. That’s simply a part of being human. Most of us take for granted that we’ll experience the whole spectrum of feelings at one point or another throughout our lives. But how much do our emotions really weigh on us? Are we truly aware of their effect on our wellness?

The groundbreaking work of Dr. Candace Pert in the 1980s demonstrated the link between emotions and health. Dr. Pert discovered that brain chemicals called neuropeptides, which she dubbed “molecules of emotion,” act as messengers between the mind and the immune system. Her findings revealed that thoughts and emotions directly impact the physical body and our health.

East and West Meet

Dr. Pert’s work confirmed a concept that has been firmly rooted in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) theory for several thousand years: emotions are powerful energies that strongly affect our Qi and our overall health.

This wisdom is clearly stated in the Nei Jing, a classic text of TCM, written about 2,500 years ago: “Overindulgence in the five emotions—happiness, anger, sadness, worry, and fear—can create imbalances.”

This “emotion commotion” can occur when we experience an emotion very intensely or suddenly, or when we chronically hold onto any emotion over an extended period of time. From the TCM perspective, while it’s completely natural to experience emotions, they must flow smoothly.

The Five Element Consciousness Framework forms a Universal template, organizing everything in this reality into five interacting, comprehensive patterns. It links, for instance, the Spring season with the Wood element and the color green, along with the Liver/Gallbladder organ system. TCM’s view of an organ system includes its physical and energetic functions.

Each organ is affected by its related emotion. For instance, anger is related to the Liver. A constant angry and stressful state directly impacts Liver Qi. This could manifest in symptoms such as PMS, infertility, migraine headaches, arthritis, tendon issues or eye problems. These symptoms are simply the body’s way of communicating that its Liver function is off-balance.

How does each emotion affect our Qi?

  • A state of overexcitement (excess happiness) can affect your Heart Qi.
  • Anger makes Qi rise quickly, so many of its effects will be felt in your head and neck. Headaches are the most common symptom, yet dizziness, red blotches on the front of the neck, and thirst can all be signs of a Liver imbalance.
  • Sadness affects both the Lung and the Heart. Sadness also depletes Qi.
  • Anxiety or worry, related to the Spleen, depletes this organ’s Qi and could affect the digestive process.
  • Fear corresponds to the Kidney. This emotion depletes Essence, the basis for Qi, which is stored in the Kidney.

What’s the best way to prevent emotional commotion? Learn to “let it go”! While it’s easier said than done, stepping back and looking at a situation from a different perspective can help you to detach from your expected outcome. It takes some practice, but its healing benefits are well worth the effort.