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How Excessive Emotions Can Harm Your Health

From the Chinese medicine perspective, excessive emotions could do harm to your body. Emotions in general are normal reactions we have for things that happen around us, while emotions that are too intense, or last longer than normal would disrupt the qi in our body, further cause an imbalance of Yin-Yang in our organs.

Emotions are associated with corresponding elements and organs in the body:






Emotions are related to the state of our organ’s health. For instance, we might see someone who is highly irritable and we make a reasonable deduction that he might be experiencing some liver issues. But this is also a two-way relationship. If you are irritated constantly for some time, or by chance, experience a huge rage that you normally wouldn’t, your liver might take a hit.

There is a famous folklore in China that illustrates the relationship between health and emotions.

Once there was a very poor young man named Jin Fan, a country boy who wished to change his life by attending the imperial examinations held by the emperor. He spent all his time reading and learning, supported by his wife and mother. His father in law was a butcher, who was always condescending to him, thought he was a burden to the family and could never get selected by the officials in the imperial exams. Jin took the exams anyway, sneaked out of home one night and ran to the capital where the exams were held.

After the three-day exam, he got back home, and his whole family had already starved for days. He took the last hen and hurried to the market to sell it. Before he could sell the hen or trade it for food, someone found him in the market and told him that he had been selected in the exam, and he will be working for the emperor soon. At first, he couldn’t believe it. He rushed home, only to find the local official had come to congratulate him. All of a sudden, ravished with joy, he lost his mind. Jin dropped to the ground, and started putting mud on his face, yelling words no one could understand, and giggled like a baby with drool all over his clothes. That was because a huge sense of joy that he couldn’t take crushed his heart. The heart was in charge of the mind, associated with one’s abilities to think, and control of one’s behaviors.

When everyone was at a loss for what to do, a doctor said, Jin Fan lost his mind because he was thrilled, ravished by joy. Joy was associated with heart, thus fire. The only way to fix him was to bring in water for the fire, or fear for the joy. Then Jin’s neighbor remembered, Jin’s worst fear was his father in law, who always scolded him, never said one single nice thing about him. People then brought the butcher to Jin, and the butcher yelled at JIn, “You were not selected, you are still worthless!” All of a sudden, JIn stopped giggling and drooling, and his eyes became clear again. There, he was scared back to normal.

It is important that we learn to manage our intense feelings to keep our qi and blood in check. Sometimes when we are faced with difficult situations, we indulge in our feelings of sadness, fear or anger. Just know that the feelings, if too intense, could be building up in our body, thus compromising our health. Find some ways to calm yourself down in moments like that. You might try taking some long, deep breaths and bring the air into your body. And most importantly, get help if needed.

It is important that we learn to healthily express and move through our intense emotions so that we can maintain smooth qi and blood flow. Cultivate a sense of awareness for how you feel in your body when you feel triggered and strong emotions begin to arise within you. Perhaps try taking a few long deep breaths to calm the nervous system, physically remove yourself from a triggered situation and take a walk in nature, call a trusted confidant, whatever it is make sure you resource yourself and get the support you need.

I believe Chinese medicine is a highly comprehensive medicine that combines science, philosophy, art and culture; it’s a holistic medicine that takes into account one’s emotions, relational dynamics, environment, climate, trauma, and lifestyle. Don’t hesitate to reach out for a consultation! You can find us here:

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