Acupuncture and Emotional Health

by Jipala Reicher-Kagan, L.Ac.

There are seven main emotions considered in Chinese medicine: anger, joy, worry, pensiveness, sadness, fear, and shock. These seven emotions are viewed as broad categories containing many other types of feelings.

Each emotion has a particular effect on the movement of qi within the body, and each emotion is related to a certain organ. The liver is most influenced by the emotion of anger, for example. Emotions that are out of balance, meaning that they are experienced in an amount disproportionate to the other emotions, will compromise the energy of internal organs over time by disrupting the flow of energy through the meridian pathway that supplies the internal organs. Shock suspends energy, worry ties it up in knots, and fear directs qi to descend, temporarily suspending a person’s connection with his or her energy.

Emotions can lead to disease when they are experienced for a long period of time, are particularly intense, go unacknowledged, or are suppressed. Under those conditions, emotions can be responsible for certain internal organ deficiencies or excesses, which can lead to physical disorders. For example, if a person experiences a lot of anger and does not express it, over time qi can become constrained, which can lead to headaches, aches and pains, tiredness, and anxiety.

Researchers have found unique electrical properties at acu-points. When measured with a direct-current electrical amplifier, acu-points are found to have lower electrical resistance and higher conductivity than the surrounding skin. Altered states of consciousness, such as sleeping or hypnosis, can produce a significant change in the conductivity of the acu-points. Also, a disturbance in the electrical circuit, for example some sort of block such as a disease, interferes with the electrical current flow at the acu-points. When the acu-points do not have a high enough conductivity, it indicates that there is a block in the flow of energies somewhere along the meridian pathway. In addition, the measurable electrical current at acu-points has been found to change with emotional fluctuations.

Managing our emotional responses is one way of keeping us healthy, but often times our emotions get the best of us, despite our best efforts and we require some outside help. Acupuncture is an effective tool that can help us regain that energetic balance we need to maintain good physical and emotional health.