The treatment of stress in Chinese Medicine covers all the organ systems in different ways. What happens during the time of stress is that the Qi (energy) either gets trapped somehow or gets somewhat twisted and out of sorts. The idea in Chinese Medicine is to keep the Qi smooth and flowing. However, when there is stress involved, the energy becomes stagnant and begins to have an affect on the organs. To begin with, we can discuss different organs and their individual responses. The Lung organ is in charge of breathing and the emotion involved with it is grief. In a situation where someone is caring for a loved one who is older and not doing well, there is a deep area which gets very depleted and over whelmed. I have seen this recently in several of my patients who are caring for their elderly parents and the responsibility becomes very intense. I have two patients now who are in similar position and they both come in for weekly treatments and herbs and they are able to handle things much better. They are given a combination of liver herbs to smooth the energy out and heart herbs to calm and center their spirits. They both claim that they are calmer and can handle things much better. The Lung energy naturally has a descending motion but in this case the Qi does not descend and people have trouble breathing or can have a slight asthma reaction.
Another organ which is affected by stress is the Heart. During intense times of stress the Heart houses the Mind and Blood in Chinese medicine and because of this, mentally someone can go through emotional and mental turmoil, bad dreams, and an unbalanced emotional state that is devoid of joy. The patient can also experience heart palpitations and an energy weakness as well. Since the Heart houses the blood it is important to have the blood flowing smoothly so it can nourish the heart and the body. If the Heart Qi is strong, the blood vessels will be full and regular. If the heart Qi is weak, the pulse will be feeble and irregular. The state of the blood can also be reflected in someone’s complexion. If the blood is strong and flowing the complexion will be rosy. It is very common for someone to begin forgetting things when their heart Qi is running so low. This can also be reflected in mental restlessness as well.
The Liver energy has a lot to do with courage and anxiety. The Liver organ stores the blood and has it go to the sinews and bones and also opens up to the eyes. It is a self-regulating organ, which is co-coordinated with physical activity. In many ways it is best to make sure one’s Qi is moved by physical energy so that it does not get stuck. When the Liver operates well and with nourishment…the feet can walk, the hands can hold and the fingers can grasp. In a situation of depletion the body will become extremely tired and will not be able to fight off exterior pathogens. The individual can become easily ill, the muscles can begin to cramp, the eyes will begin to hurt and the emotion will be filled with anger. I have gotten tremendous results in relaxing and nurturing the Liver energy so that it flows downward and is smooth. This organ can actually be responsible for depression on top of a stress reaction towards life. I believe Chinese medicine can get immediate results with even one treatment.
The Spleen and Stomach meridians can be grouped together in order to understand the effects of stress. They are the two organs responsible for transforming and transporting food. The Spleen energy has to do with worry. The Spleen and Stomach direct Qi downwards so in times of stress, the energy or Qi of these organs can move upwards causing belching, acid reflux or indigestion. The Spleen is in charge of holding the blood together in the vessels. When a patient is over-worrying or over-thinking, this alone can throw the digestive system off. Things are no longer digested, go through the system and then are expelled. Instead, the system begins to shut down and not only can constipation occur but food will not be digested properly and nutrition will not be absorbed by the system. The Spleen and Stomach together create a “lifting” experience and when they are not working properly there could be a form of prolapse occurring. The Spleen is the residence of thought so meditation would help to create a calmness and clarity.
These are some of the organ systems that are hampered from stress. All the organ systems work together in Chinese medicine to create balance and in times of stress it is important to see if you can get a couple treatments to help you through the hard times. I have seen remarkable results in just one or two treatments with acupuncture and herbs together. If you are in a situation that you need some help, please take of yourself first so that you can take care of situations with a greater amount of ease and harmony. This will help transform your experience of difficult events and times.