Emotions manifesting as disease originally began in Ancient Greece and Ancient Rome. From Hippocrates to Galen, they both wrote extensively on this concept. In more modern times it has become adopted by the modalities of Traditional Chinese Medicine and Ayurvedic Practitioners; unfortunately, still viewed in orthodox medicine has a “pseudo-science”.
The water element. Fear is the emotion of the kidneys and the bladder. It is a normal adaptive emotion, but can become chronic when ignored. Kidney issues often arise when we are dealing with fear, such as a change in life direction or unstable living conditions.
It is important to remember that fear can be voluntarily allowed, or involuntarily allowed. Being mindful of what you consume, not only in your diet, but with your daily spiritual practices, allows for the inhibition of involuntary fear being allowed entry into your life.
The fire element. Joy is the emotion of the heart and the small intestine. When we experience joy and happiness, we nourish our heart and small intestine energy. We feel mentally clear and able to process experiences. When we are lacking joy in our lives, the heart suffers and we can feel stuck, mentally chaotic, and have difficulty sleeping. Mania or obsessive joy can indicate an excess of scattered heart energy and can be the cause of severe mental emotional disorders. Over stimulated heart energy could also cause agitation, insomnia, and palpitations. In other words, even the pleasurable emotions we experience can bring us “out of balance.”
The wood element. Anger is an emotion of the liver and gallbladder. Being high-strung, “type a personality”, grudge holders, bitter and passive aggressive behavior are a manifestation of an imbalanced liver. Symptoms that manifest in our body to alert of this would be headaches, “dizzy spells”, and some cases of vertigo.
An imbalanced liver and gallbladder can be caused by longstanding feelings of repressed anger, such as resentment, frustration, and irritability. Also, as the same with other organs, imbalance can be caused by a poor diet, body pollutants such as chemicals, drugs, and molds. Think voluntary and involuntary. What we voluntarily expose ourselves to, and what we don’t have control over, that we are exposed too.
The earth element. Anxiety is usually a symptom of pro-longed stress. According to the modality of Traditional Chinese Medicine anxiety manifests in specific areas of the body due to different aspects/ perception. These also relate to the four elements.
- If related to the lungs and large intestine, energy blockages can provoke tightness in chest, shallow and irregular breathing, or even “holding of breath. The large intestine can also be affected by anxiety, causing symptoms of digestive discomfort, abdominal cramping and may manifest gastrointestinal diseases such as ulcerative colitis and IBS.
- Kidney and bladder issues could also be at the root of anxiety. Our adrenals regulate our stress response and when adrenal problems become chronic, they can cause anxiety. The adrenals sit on top of both kidneys, thus TCM recognizes the adrenal glands in the same way as the kidneys, as they are within the kidney yang aspect. Anxiety can also be caused by a discord between the kidneys and the heart. Thus, painful urination, reoccurring UTI’s and even rapid heart palpitations may be experienced.
- Anxiety can stem from liver imbalance too, when longstanding anger and irritation goes unresolved. In this case, anxiety manifests as nervous tension, irritability, and insomnia.
- Anxiety from excess worry stems from spleen and stomach imbalance. Stomach issues usually manifest as pH imbalance, thus creating dysregulation in the enteric nervous system. Which in turn creates gut lining issues. Pain after eating, stomach cramping, and digestive problems are usually the physical symptoms in this case.
The metal element. Grief is the emotion of the lungs, the large intestine and cardiovascular system. Loss of any kind will often trigger a feeling of being energetically drained. Grief can stay with us for a while and can grow “unresolved and stuck” until we decide to release it. This could eventually interfere with lung function and oxygen circulation throughout the body. 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 brushing how we feel “under the rug”.
Physical signs and symptoms
The physical signs and symptoms of holding onto anger, grief, or any excessive stimuli are hard to miss. The mind has an interesting way of expressing itself physically. Dark, dense eyes, lacks aura, stringy hair, dull pasty skin, premature aging, and large open pores are all signs of emotions controling the mind.
Other signs and symptoms; anoreixa or being overweight, procastination or the need to be busy, reactive rather than proactive, flighty, and overthinking. Digestive issues, blood pressure issues, and even instable blood sugar (type 2 diabetes) can be signs and symptoms of emotions controlling your life.
Managing your emotions
Managing your emotions can be difficult at any age, but with mindful practice one can re-regulate their innate response. Bringing a sense of peace to one’s life. There are many different options available to us that help us become more mindful.
Unfortunately, meditation has a stigmatism attached to it. Most people won’t even try to sit still for 60 seconds and allow themselves to process how they are feeling. Meditation isn’t about sitting still with an empty mind. Meditation is a time to be present with yourself, to allow your thoughts and feelings to pass through you, without distractions, so you can process your thoughts and feelings. Coming away from meditation with a new “door of perception” (if you will).
is one my second favorite relaxing technique. Depending on your cause of concern or ailment, acupuncture allows the practitioner to insert micro needles into specific meridian lines. These specific meridian lines are tied back to specific organs of the body. If you have ever had acupuncture done before, the sensations are a bit interesting. When the needle is inserted into a meridian line, you may feel a sense of pressure being released, as if a small balloon was popped. This is the stagnant energy moving through the body to be released through the meridian line.
is my favorite relaxing technique. Music can make or break a mood. If you are like me, you may have noticed how easily influenced you may feel when certain music is played. The words in the song contribute to this overtime in the subconscious, but the sound of the frequency is what I am referencing here. The sound that is expressed through frequency could immediately alter how someone is feeling. It can trigger thoughts, memories, and emotions, leaving one feeling joyful, or extremely sad. The words are important to be mindful of because words sink into the subconscious overtime, almost programing someone’s thoughts, feelings, or behaviors.
creativity is simply expressing oneself. Anything from participating in exercise that you enjoy, to producing a tangible creation. Regular healthy self-expression through creativity allows one to process their feelings and emotions and express them through healthy outlets. Thus, the emotions and thoughts cannot become stagnant and dominate one’s mind, body or spirit.
adaptogens, tonics, nervines and cardiotonics.
It is important to remember that herbalists view the body much differently than orthodox practitioners. Depending on circumstances on our client, we usually recomend a gentle cleanse to help "restart" the body, allowing toxins and metabolic build up to be released. We then add in adapotgens or tonics, while combining mindful practice with gentle nervines for solace.