How your emotions affect your health

Holistic understanding.

Ancient wisdom recognised that the way we feel has an important role in our health. Here, NAT KRINGOUDIS explains the connection between our emotional and physical health.

One of the things I love most about traditional Chinese medicine is how it assesses both the physical and the emotional aspects of health. TCM states that when there is a balance between the two, we attain better health. TCM also states that each ailment, condition, disease and misalignment in the body has two streams for successful treatment: the physical and the emotional. It also recognises that you can’t necessarily separate the two and that each illness has an emotional component. In my clinic, I see this daily and addressing one aspect is only doing half the job.

Traditional Chinese medicine also views that each organ has an associated emotion; for example:

  • The lung is associated with sadness
  • The spleen is associated with worry
  • The emotion of the liver is anger
  • The heart’s emotion is joy
  • The kidney’s emotion is fear

You may have personally experienced the connection between illness and emotion. Perhaps you’ve felt sick in your stomach with worry, strong enough that you lost all appetite. Or maybe you’ve been so angry that you’ve given yourself a stitch. Many of us are experiencing related symptoms that we’ve perhaps not connected the dots with. The reality is that our emotions absolutely cause real physical symptoms in the body.
Digging deeper into the emotional side of health isn’t something that Western medicine has given much attention to. Scientific findings are now showing just how our emotions impact our health by way of negative self-talk or unkind thoughts that may keep us in a perpetual state of sickness. It’s important that we look at and begin to love all corners of health, especially in instances where we feel we’ve made good inroads in treating a condition, yet it doesn’t seem to resolve.

I once treated a patient who had a recurrent low-grade cough that followed her around for two years. After seeking adequate medical examination and being told there was nothing wrong, she decided to live with it. I began to treat her without much success. Eventually, I realised that I needed to dig deeper to get answers. Finally, it surfaced that she developed the cough after the passing of her mother. I quizzed her as to how she grieved and she went on to explain that she never had. She had never cried and so much time had passed that she really no longer knew how. Of course, the next part of this story is where I tell you I went on to treat her with amazing results. Not too longer after she had an emotional meltdown, her cough resolved itself.

Since this time, I’ve not waited weeks to use these principles in-clinic but have adopted the treatment of both aspects of health, around the organs and the emotions with incredible outcomes from the start. The best news with this type of treatment is that it isn’t limited to a counselling session or therapy, but more in treating the body in a different way to bwring it back to a more homeostatic environment.
This also means that a patient can feel far less confronted when discussion around past experiences are difficult. Most of us don’t like to talk deeply about our emotions, even though we really should. It can take time to feel ready to do so. We can somewhat bypass it all by treating the body on the organic level.

The reality is, we should never dismiss the physical aspects of health conditions. It’s always important we look at the full picture in order to make positive changes to our health. While the idea of looking at the emotional state associated to physical symptoms may be a very new idea to you, it’s well worth considering when you’re looking into your own health, especially for recurrent conditions that are stubborn and unresolved. This is just another reason why we all love Chinese medicine so much.

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The information presented on this website is not intended as specific medical advice and is not a substitute for professional medical treatment or diagnosis. Read our Medical Notice.