The mind and the body are inseparable.
Ancient Eastern civilizations have long understood the way our mental and spiritual bodies inform our physical nature. Western science too has begun to understand the interdependence between the emotional and physical body: we know the ‘gut’ acts as our second brain and stress is toxic.
In fact, every organ corresponds to the energy of a certain emotion, and every disease stems from an imbalance in an organ or its meridians (energy channels). This is a fundamental idea in Chinese Medicine. Many times a physical disorder linked to a certain organ actually stems from an imbalance in the emotion associated with that organ. The reverse could be true: an imbalanced organ can heighten the specific emotion experienced by an individual. It can become a vicious cycle.
All emotions are inevitable, physiologically normal and will not cause disease when they arise in daily life. Chinese medicine only considers emotions as pathological when they are repressed, contained, or expressed intensely, often, without control, or out of context.
Specific herbs and foods with each organ’s correlating energies can be used to appropriately strengthen, tonify, and detoxify the organ to help even the scariest emotions to pass through easily! Likewise, the more we decide to participate in our emotional lives through awareness exercises like journaling and meditation, the more we can help treat the energetic organ systems.
GRIEF + DEPRESSION
Grief is the emotion of the lungs and the large intestine, organs associated with the metalelement. Loss of any kind will often trigger a cold, a feeling of being energetically drained, and difficult bowel function. Grief can stay with us for a while, and can go unresolved until we decide to release it. When grief is unresolved and becomes chronic, depression and an inability to ‘let go’ of things can arise from this lung Qi Deficiency. This could eventually interfere with lung function and oxygen circulation. Since our lungs control the flow of energy in our bodies, it’s important that we give ourselves space to deal with painful events rather than stifling them!
To Balance: pungent flavoured and/or white colored foods and herbs. Onion, radish, mustard greens, daikon radish, scallions (white part), almonds, white meat, white rice, white beans, white mushrooms, gingko nut, white mustard seed, angelica root tangerine peel
Reduce: eggs, dairy, rich, processed or fatty foods that cause congestion
Fear is the emotion of the kidneys and the bladder, organs associated with the water element. It is a normal adaptive emotion, but can become chronic when we ignore it. Kidney issues often arise when we are dealing with fear, such as a change in life direction or unstable living conditions. When we experience extreme fright, our kidneys struggle to hold qi and we can quite literally pee our pants. Involuntary urination like this is often seen in ‘stage fright’.
To Balance: salty flavoured and/or black colored foods and herbs. Black beans, walnuts, black sesame, mushrooms, water chestnuts, seaweed, blackberries, black tea, psoralia root, lotus seed, stephania root
Reduce: cheese, salt, heavy meat, sugars, excessively cooling foods
WORRY + NERVOUSNESS
Worry is the emotion of the spleen and the stomach, organs associated with the earth element. Too much pensiveness, worrying and insecurity can weaken our ability to digest. When we are anxious, we find it hard to digest and accept a situation or life event. Lack of trust and ease towards the experiences and the foods we take in to our lives will make it impossible for us to digest them. This can make us feel tired, lethargic, and unable to concentrate: a bit of a paradox, too much mental stimulation can actua