Home' Nova National : October 2010 Contents One the consequences of our
hectic lifestyle is the increased
amount of stress we have
to absorb on a daily basis.
Gradually, our nervous system becomes
overloaded with this constant stimulus,
leaving us depleted and unable to cope. In
my last article on mindfulness, I mentioned
the use of that meditation technique for the
management of depression disorders. In
the next few months, I will look at a different
approach, and explore the treatment of this
increasingly common mental condition
with Traditional Chinese Medicine.
According to one of the principles of
this ancient medical framework, each of
the main organs in our body is associated
with a specific emotion. By treating the
specific organ that is affected, we can
harmonise a person's emotional state. In
a corresponding fashion, the treatment of
the person's emotional state will, in turn,
improve the function of its related organ.
Obviously, it is only when the expression
of these emotions becomes excessive that
our health is affected, but we see the heart
being associated with excessive joy, the
spleen with worry, the lungs with sadness,
the kidneys with fear, and the liver with
In oriental medicine, health is achieved
when the flow of energy (qi) and blood
in the body is harmonious. Throughout
our lives, we receive a combination of
several sources of qi, starting from the
genetic inheritance from our parents
(stored in the kidneys) to the food that
we eat (stomach and spleen), and the air
that we breathe (lungs). It is the liver that
is responsible for the optimum circulation
of this vital substance. This organ has two
important functions: the circulation of
the free flow of qi, and the storage of the
blood. So, the liver nourishes the nervous
system, and regulates its supply of qi and
blood according to its emotional needs,
which explains its influence on our mental
When the liver is functioning properly,
the qi will flow unrestricted, and the person
will be healthy in body and spirit. The
increased nervous tension will be released
through verbal expression or physical
activity and the emotional balance will be
maintained. Unfortunately, if this tension
is not released, the nervous system will
continue to call upon the liver for further
nourishment. Soon, the muscular system,
which has been unable to relax, will be in
urgent need of extra qi and blood supply.
Gradually, the liver storage of blood will
become depleted, the circulation of qi
interrupted, and this organ will be no
longer able to maintain its essential role in
maintaining the body's homeostasis.
When the energy stagnates in that
organ, the person's emotional state will be
affected, not only with anger, but feelings
of frustration, irritation, and resentment.
This blockage of qi will also be manifested
with a sensation of tightness in the chest;
sometimes there will be uncomfortable
lump in the throat with difficulty swallowing,
30 © NOVA OCTOBER 2010
'When the energy stagnates in that organ, the person's
emotional state will be affected, not only with anger, but feelings
of frustration, irritation, and resentment.'
or the person will be sighing frequently, in
a forlorn attempt to expel this unwelcome
constriction. This is what we describe as a
pattern of Liver Qi stagnation.
If it is not treated, as the body is a
living organism, a change will occur and
the constricted liver energy will start to
rise upward with a build up of heat. The
individual affected will now be complaining
of frequent headaches. He could have
become very short tempered, flying off the
handle for the slightest reason. We can find
ample evidence of this emotional pattern
on the weekends, when seasoned drinkers
start punishing their liver in the pubs with
great enthusiasm. Soon a transformation
takes place, and their merry mood quickly
turns sour. They become irritable and
aggressive, and often it only takes a quick
spark before punches are being thrown.
This is liver yang rising. The constricted
liver qi becomes heated up by the warming
nature of the ingested alcohol and rises
to the head, like the steam in a pressure
In addition, one of the functions of the
liver associated with its regulation of qi is
the ability to make decisions, to be able
to adapt to life changes -- like a military
commandant who knows when to advance,
and when to retreat. The liver belongs to
the wood element, so ideally it should be
like a piece of bamboo -- strong, but able
to bend with the wind. When that organ is
in disharmony, the affected person will lose
that compliance, and will soon become
authoritarian, inflexible and domineering.
Once again, a picture of an army chief
comes to mind.
If there is a deficiency in the liver's
ability to regulate its energy, it is expressed
by the patient's inability to make decisions.
We have probably all met some of these
people, who are always full of wonderful
plans. Although they are often very capable,
they never accomplish very much, because
they are unable to turn these ideas into
When that incapacity to make changes
turns to frustration, it becomes fertile
ground for the noxious weed of depression
to start sprouting its ugly shoots. This
is what I propose to explore in my next
column in a month's time.
Olivier Lejus MHSc. (TCM), BHSc. (Acup.)
is an accredited acupuncturist practising in Sydney.
TCM teaches that when our
qi becomes blocked, we're
setting the groundwork for
the onset of depression,
says Olivier Lejus.
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