The Covid-19 crisis has thrown us all off balance. Individuals, families, communities, and entire societies are seeing life conditions change drastically. Physically, we are forced to isolate, leading to alienation and loneliness. Our work has been modified, reduced or eliminated, leading to sky-high anxiety and stress. And looming in the background is tremendous uncertainty. In short, health, wealth, and the future as we know it are in jeopardy.
How can we adapt to these drastic changes to maintain our mental health? We are making good adjustments to protect our physical health through social distancing and better hygiene, but are we providing adequate care for our hearts and minds?
Chinese medicine provides a simple and effective method for balancing the emotions. The theory is that the healthy person experiences emotions appropriately given the situation and then one moves on to the next emotion based on the next situation. The liver organ plays the key role of ensuring the freeflow of emotions. Unfortunately, high stress impairs the liver and people often get stuck in a certain emotion, causing distress and unhealthy behavior.
In fact, each of the organs has a “sensitive emotion” in addition to its physical function. When an organ is out of balance or not functioning well, a person tends to get stuck in its related emotion. Or conversely, if we get stuck in a certain emotion we may weaken its physical function.
For example, the sensitive emotion of the liver is anger or frustration. The liver cleans the blood of toxins and sometimes becomes congested when overloaded with toxicity. People with congested livers tend to experience more stress and frustration and vice versa.
The sensitive emotion of the spleen/pancreas/stomach is worry. The spleen/pancreas/stomach are the primary digestive organs and they generate nutrient-rich blood. Thus, people with weak digestion and anemia tend to experience more worry and vice versa.
The sensitive emotion of the heart is joy. Its physical function is to regulate blood. Joy can be an unbalanced emotion when it fluctuates with depression, as in bipolar disorder or manic depression. The heart is also a key psychological organ because it stores the spirit. While the brain is considered the organ of thinking, the spirit is thought to be stored in the heart, not the brain. Specifically, the spirit can be settled in nutrient-rich blood which is regulated by the heart. People with heart problems or anemia tend to experience more anxiety and vice versa.
These basic theories of the emotional roles of 3 organs allow us to analyze the most common “pattern of disharmony” leading to anxiety. A pattern of disharmony is the way Chinese medicine differentiates and diagnoses illness. It is determined by analysis of symptoms combined with close observation of the body, including looking at the tongue and feeling the pulse.
The most common pattern of disharmony leading to anxiety in today’s world develops like this: People experience high stress which impairs the liver’s function of smooth emotional transition. Next, the liver’s stuck energy impairs the spleen/pancreas/intestine function, leading to excessive worry, poor digestion and limiting blood production. Lastly, the lack of adequate blood prevents the spirit from settling in the heart, leading to anxiety. This pattern can progress to insomnia, depression, and panic.
The good news is that there is simple, reliable treatment to balance this pattern of disharmony.Specifically, acupuncture and Chinese herbal prescriptions are used to settle the heart spirit, nourish the blood, strengthen the spleen/pancreas/ intestines, and soothe the liver. These treatments are effective for many mental health conditions, from mild anxiety to severe panic attacks.
Does today’s world have you hanging on by a thread? Or perhaps conventional treatment is no longer working or causing serious side-effects. Take the first step on the path to a more balanced emotional life. Call the Acupuncture Clinic of Missoula at (406) 728-1600 for a free phone consultation to learn more about Chinese medical treatment for anxiety and other mental health issues.
Note: During the COVID19 shelter in place order our practitioners are still available to support our established patients through phone consultations for lifestyle/nutrition and herbal consultations. Call 728-1600 to schedule a phone appointment with your Acupuncturist.