• House of Qi

Emotions in Traditional Medicine


In keeping with my ongoing theme of exploring the lungs and their health during the autumn season…I’d like to focus on emotions and how they relate to specific organs in Traditional Medicine.


The five primary emotions are:


Joy (Heart)

Fear (Kidneys)

Anger (Liver)

Worry (Spleen)

Sadness/Grief (Lungs)


Grief directly affects the lungs in Traditional Medicine. We are taught by Western ideals to always focus on the positive and pass over or ignore negative emotions like anger or grief. While that certainly leads to more positive thinking – it isn’t necessarily good for our overall health.


All emotions need a chance to be expressed. By refusing to acknowledge and even embrace our sadness or grief we are throwing our bodies out of balance. In Traditional Medicine, this imbalance can lead to a myriad of issues all related to the lungs.


This imbalance can manifest itself in many ways but if you feel as though you cannot take deep breaths…like an elephant is sitting on your chest…you may be experiencing weak lung qi. This weakened lung qi can cause your body to be more susceptible to colds and flu or issues with hay fever and asthma.


Autumn is a particularly challenging time for the lungs according to Traditional Medicine. Autumn can be beautiful but it also can create a sense of sadness as the days shorten and the weather cools. We are forced indoors and often unable to go out because of inclement weather and cold temperatures. All of these obstacles can exacerbate our emotions and round and round we go.


Emotions are like friends. They need attention. They need to be validated. They need us to accept them for what they are. By learning to recognise your grief or sadness you can begin to address the underlying cause. Is your grief external or internal? Is it something you can bring out into the open and address? Or, will you have to adjust your life and accept that you need to feel your way through to the other side? Whatever the cause – by learning to embrace your grief and sadness – to work through it and find joy – you will strengthen your lungs and create peace for yourself going forward.


Joy and Peace. Strength and Health. Those are goals worth living for.

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