Can our emotions make us sick? Illness through the lens of Chinese medicine.
Can our emotions make us sick? And can we get sick if we are exposed to wind for too long?
The answer is yes, according to traditional Chinese medicine.
TCM stands for traditional Chinese medicine. In TCM, we have a different view of what creates human disease, compared to Western medicine. It is believed that humans becomes ill because of external or internal pathogenic factors. External factors are the weather, and internal factors are our emotions. Both external and internal pathogenic factors consist of five factors.
We humans are not designed to hold on to our emotions. Emotions are an expression of energy, which in TCM is called qi. We are not designed and created to hold on to emotions and let them become chronic. Instead, our bodies are designed to experience emotions and to allow them to move, through different expressions. When the feelings become long lasting and chronic, there is a risk that they will create illness.
Internal causes of disease - the five emotions
Some say there are seven emotions, and some explain those feelings through the number five. Regardless, these emotions are an internal cause of a disturbance of harmony in the body, and these emotions can create disease if not balanced. Too much anger can be as much imbalance as too much joy. However, they will be manifested by different physical symptoms.
The five emotions are: anger, joy, sadness, worry (over-thinking) and fear. These feelings are normal to experience, and we shouldexperience them to some degree, more or less all the time. To experience emotions is to be human. Problems only arise when these feelings take over and become long lasting. When grief becomes chronic and unprocessed, there is a risk that this will create illness. When anger cannot be expressed in a healthy way, anger can create imbalances in the body that can develop into disease.
There are some within TCM who believe that the biggest cause of illness is our feelings. In other words, we need to find healthy ways to constantly regulate our emotional life, in order to stay healthy.
Each of these five emotions is, according to TCM, interconnected with an organ in the body. This means that these emotions affect the entire body, but that each emotion has a specific connection, energy-wise, to an organ in our body. For example, grief largely affects our lungs. A person with "chronic grief" suffers the risk of experiencing physical problems associated with the lungs. Another person who experiences too much anger suffers from the risk that the liver may exhibit physical symptoms. Joy is connected to the heart, and too much joy, to constantly seek for more and more joy, is not good for our heart. Concern and over-thinking affect our spleen, which has a strong connection with our stomach and digestion according to TCM. Fear affects our kidneys.
Learning to manage one's emotional life is a big part of TCM and its holistic view of the human being. There are several ways to balance the body's emotions, where acupuncture is a big part. Acupuncture allows the body's organs to be balanced, where the acupuncturist, through diagnosis and conversation with the patient, finds out which organ needs to be balanced and harmonized depending on the unique individual. Namely, it can also be that an organ itself is in imbalance, which can express itself in emotions. It goes both ways. A liver in imbalance can express itself through anger, frustration and irritation.
External cause of illness - the five weather factors
We can get sick from long-term and chronic feelings that are not balanced in time. But we can also get sick by spending too much time in the sun and heat, or if we are exposed to too much wind.
The external factors of illness are wind, heat, cold, dryness and dampness. These are linked to different seasons, and also to specific organs in the body.
The fact that these external factors create illness is nothing that happens unless there is a weakened "defense" in the body. The stronger the body's defense, the easier it can "figtht" these external factors, which means that they do not penetrate the body in depth (all the way to our organs) and create imbalance or illness. If we have a weakened defense then wind, cold, heat, dryness and damp can enter the body's organs, where illness can be manifested.
TCM usually says: don't get too hot, not too cold, and balance your feelings. Maybe not in those exact words, but kind of like that. What TCM says is basically that we humans should learn to live according to the seasons of nature, and to manage our emotions in a healthy way. During the winter, cold dominates nature. This means that, for example, it is not suitable to be out running and sweating, as this opens our pores and cold can penetrate the body. We then need to expel the cold out of the body (acupuncture and moxibustion can do the trick) before it can get deeper into our joints, creating trouble and pain.
Does this makes sense? Maybe not. Or maybe it does, the more you learn about traditional Chinese medicine. Which I hope to be able to contribute, step by step, through these articles, or blog posts, which will most likely provide answers while also creating questions.
If you want to learn to live in accordance with the seasons of nature, then these articles are just an "appetizer" for the upcoming online course in "the art of living according to the seasons of nature". We can prevent ill-health and create health by learning to live in accordance with nature. We come from nature, and in nature we find many answers.