It’s well-recognized that illness is often be accompanied by feelings of sorrow, frustration, anxiety, depression, and even anger. What is less recognized is that such emotions can also affect your physical health and negatively impact your body’s organs. The classic, tragic example of this connection is a heart attack triggered by a powerful shock or anger.
The link between emotions and health has been extensively researched since the 1970s by researchers in the field of psychoneuroimmunology (PNI), more commonly known as mind/body medicine. Numerous studies in this field have documented the profound interconnection between what we think, feel, and believe and our physical health.
The findings of scientists researching PNI are regularly proven in my own medical practice. When patients first consult with me, I make it a point to ask them about not only their health complaints but also about their emotional state, their fears, and whether they are passionate and excited about their lives.
Invariably, as they begin to move away from fears and limited thinking and reconnect with feelings of gratitude, optimism, and passion, their energy levels noticeably improve.
The realizations and discoveries in the field of mind/body medicine are actually rediscoveries of knowledge well-known by healers from many centuries ago. The importance of healthy emotions to physical health have long been taught in the world’s spiritual traditions. For example, in Proverbs 17:22, it is written, “A merry heart doeth good like a medicine, but a broken spirit drieth the bones.”
Both traditional Chinese medicine and the medicine of ancient Greece also categorized the body’s organs by the emotions that corresponded with and affected them. The Greeks, for instance, regarded the heart as the body’s most important organ. They associated it with positive emotions such as love, courage, honesty, altruism and compassion, all of which they taught strengthened the heart and life-force energy.
Conversely, the Greeks taught that base, negative emotions — like cowardice, timidity, guilt, remorse, deceit, and duplicity — weaken the heart and diminish vital energy, and that prolonged grief and sorrow, such as that caused by the loss of a loved one, could lead to death due to a broken heart.
In addition, according to Greek medicine the heart is very susceptible to turbulent emotions such as anger or the desire for revenge.
The Greeks closely associated the lungs with the heart. Therefore, the lungs were affected by the same positive and negative emotions and character traits. They also recognized that we need to be in a state of ease in order for the lungs to function properly, and that feelings of being denied, invalidated, or emotionally smothered (often referred to as needing “breathing room”) can constrict the lungs and cause respiratory problems.
On the other hand, feelings of dignity, happiness, and personal satisfaction can improve lung function by causing them to expand. You can prove this to yourself by noticing how you breathe when you are happy compared to when you feel you are being invalidated.
In some cases, if you did a liver scan you might not see any physical abnormality with the liver; blood tests would be normal but the anger might very well manifest in symptoms such as insomnia or migraine headaches. This is an example of electrical or energetic changes in the liver. In Chinese medicine, the liver is associated with anger, which causes an imbalance in its energy.
In Chinese medicine, each of the twelve meridian pathways through which energy flows through the body is associated with two hours of the 24-hour clock. During this time, the energy of the organ systems to which the meridian corresponds is maximized. The time for the liver is between one and three a.m. When the liver’s energy is imbalanced, people either can’t fall asleep or wake up between those hours.
Another part of the body where people commonly experience a link to their emotions is the intestines, which are susceptible to emotionally induced problems. This is particularly true of emotions such as fear, anxiety, anger, stress and emotional tension, all of which can cause gastrointestinal disturbances, such as constipation, diarrhea, and irritable bowel syndrome.
This is one of the reasons why it is not a good idea to eat when you are in a distressed emotional state.
Other organs and their associated emotions according to Both ancient Chinese and Greek healers also associated emotions with the health of the kidneys, which are affected by fear and shock, and are improved by feelings of security and self-assurance. In addition, the adrenal glands, which sit on top of the kidneys can be injured and drained energetically by excessive stress.
Male and female reproductive organs can also be affected by fears and anxiety.
In men, feelings of inadequacy and “performance anxiety” can affect the reproductive organs, while optimal health of female reproductive organs can often depend on whether or not women feel loved by, and experience emotional warmth and feelings of closeness with, their spouse or partner. Lack of trust and emotional trauma can also negatively impact female sexual health.
In my own practice, I have come to recognize the spiritual and energetic significance of many of the body’s organs. What follows is a list of those organs and the positive emotions that most improve their energy.
Sinuses — wisdom and proper use of power
Teeth — courage and determination
Tonsils — realistic assessment of life issues
Thyroid — harmonious drive
Heart — love of mankind
Lungs — sense of freedom
Breast — motherly love
Liver — harmonious mood
Gallbladder/bile ducts — optimism
Stomach/duodenum — elated moods
Kidneys — vitality
Spleen — power to resist negative influences
Pancreas — self-love
Small and large intestine — perseverance
Appendix — self-knowledge
Ovaries/testicles — creativity
Prostate/uterus — ability to give yourself to your sexual partner
Bladder — self-confidence
Review this list above to notice where and how it may be applicable to you.
You can find more information about how to heal your emotions in my book, Outstanding Health (www.outstandinghealthbook.com).
Posts by Michael Galitzer, M.D. and Larry Trivieri Jr.
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