Although emotions are natural and a part of what makes us human, there are emotions that are damaging if felt to an extreme level, or if felt for a prolonged period of time. In Traditional Chinese Medicine, there are five main emotions: joy, anger, grief, fear/fright, and pensiveness.
Each of the five emotions correspond to a certain organ system in the body: the heart, the liver, the lungs, the kidneys, and the spleen correspondingly. Each of these emotions are critical to human experience and necessary for the health of the body. But too much of one emotion can be a symptom of imbalance in its pertaining organ system. For example, we all have the friend or family member that overthinks everything! They are constantly worried and have their mind churning every minute of the day. These overly-pensive emotions are a signal that the Spleen organ system is imbalanced. Alternatively, a person that is highly irritable and snaps angrily at everyone may have an imbalance in the Liver organ system.
But the beautiful thing about Traditional Chinese Medicine is that it doesn't really matter. Due to its holistic nature, both the physical and mental symptoms are simultaneously treated in acupuncture. Heat in the liver, whether its manifesting in extreme anger or in vertex headaches, can both be treated with the same points.
This phenomenon is simply a mirror for what is happening on a deep physical level. Another beautiful thing about Traditional Chinese Medicine is that there are dozens of points all over the body and many herbs that can influence the emotions. Some to subdue anger, calm the mind, release anxiety, heal depression, and open grief. Licensed acupuncturists are trained to use these subtle emotional clues as signs to the entire body's diagnosis and treatment. To better understand each emotion and its physical impact, below is a brief overview of the five emotions and the organ system that houses them.
Anger manifests itself in the Liver organ and the Wood element. Excessive anger makes your qi drastically ascend upwards to your head. That is why the physical symptoms of headache, dizziness, raised blood pressure, blurred vision, and red eyes are commonly associated with excess anger.
Although fear and fright are different emotions (fright being more of an acute shock, while fear being a deeper and chronic feeling), both are considered to scatter or descend the qi. They belong to the Kidney organ system and the water element. Chronic fear can weaken the kidneys causing problems with urination (frequent, copious, or urgent urination), and can lead to indecisiveness and confusion.
Excessive grief is known to dissolve the qi and weaken the Lung, which corresponds to the metal element. If someone has been experiencing prolonged or intense sadness, such as the death of a loved one, it is common to see symptoms of asthma, coughing, excessive crying, frequent colds and flu, skin problems, and issues with circulation.