When addressing emotional impact on chronic diseases, there are two aspects of concerns. Although conventional medicine tends to overlook the emotional component in the formation of chronic diseases, traditional Chinese medicine has long recognized emotion as one of the causative factors of illness and diseases, among other pathogenic factors such as diet, life style, genetic factors and environmental factors. Stress and drastic emotions can trigger asthma attacks and hypertension; anxiety and over thinking promotes gastric ulcer and IBS; highly sensitive, worrisome women with resentment or depressive emotions are prone to develop breast cancer and endometriosis. Prolonged unresolved emotional issues cause systemic inflammation and result in a multitude of health problems on the physical body. Medical research has recently implicated neuro-inflammation as a contributing factor in a host of diseases, including cancer, metabolic syndrome, heart disease and Alzheimer’s.
On the other hand, people who suffer from chronic diseases very commonly develop negative emotions and feelings, such as helplessness, frustration, anger, anxiety, resentment, sadness, and depression. Even worse, the physical symptoms, reduced abilities, financial woes and relationship challenges of chronic illness can breed strong feelings of self-doubt and worthlessness. These negative emotions can have a negative impact on body’s healing ability and create a vicious cycle that is hard to break.
Chinese Medicine and Energy Medicine have a unique advantage over conventional medicine to treat psychosomatic disorders by addressing both physical and emotional aspects of the disease. Chinese Medicine believes in the unity of the Body, Mind and Spirit. The Heart houses the spirit and connects to the five organs. According to the fundamental Five Element theory of Chinese Medicine, each organ system has a close correlation to a specific emotional pattern. When there is an excess of a specific emotion, the normal physiological function of the corresponding organ is impaired. For instance, Liver as a Wood element, is correlated to Anger and irritability, often seen in alcoholism, migraine, PMS, hypertension. By reducing inflammation and support Liver detoxification, these conditions including the anger issue can be greatly improved. By the same token, Spleen, the Earth element, is associated with Worry, pensiveness and digestive dysfunction; Heart, the Fire element is associated with Over joy, ecstasy and circulatory system; Lungs, the Metal element, is associated with Sad, grief and respiratory system; Kidneys, the Water
element, is associated with adrenal system. The effect of the emotions on a particular organ is well documented in medical literature that “Type A” personalities have much higher rates of heart disease, and that women who suffered childhood sexual abuse have higher rates of dysmenorrhea and pelvic pain.
|Stomach and SpleenDigestive system||Lungs and Respiratory system||Adrenal and(HPA) system|
As in functional medicine, digestive system is regarded to be responsible for our emotional wellbeing as the “second brain”. 80-90% of serotonin, the chemical neurotransmitter that is responsible for mood balance is found in the gastrointestinal tract. Chinese medicine also has a strong correlation of Stomach and Spleen dysfunction with the mental disorders. Deficient spleen and stomach energy creates pathogenic damp and phlegm. Emotional and mental disorders are said to be the result of phlegm obstructing the mind. That being said, dietary habit and nutritional balance is a key component to restore emotional balance. Acupuncture point Feng Long ST40 is specifically indicated for mania, confusion, agitation and stress induced mental problems. Many points on Gall Bladder meridian are also indicated for emotional and mental disorders.
Recognizing the emotion and physiology connection within the body, traditional Chinese medicine practitioners are able to diagnose and apply customized acupuncture and herbal treatment to balance the energy flow of the specific organ systems to resolve those emotional issues. In addition, natural therapies such as flower essence, aroma therapy, and meditation can be incorporated in the treatment plan. Functional Medicine uses clinical nutritional supplements to regulate neurotransmitters and hormones for mood disorders. Energy Psychology believes all negative emotion is caused by disruption of the body’s energy system. Emotional Freedom Therapy is an effective technique used to release the energy blockage. It is important to incorporate different therapies for different individual patient needs for optimal result.