Have you ever considered how repressed emotions impact your health? I’ve written quite a bit over the years about liver health and its importance as both a filter for toxins and as a digestive organ but I’ve become convinced that our emotional state can either make or break our heath.
A growing awareness of toxic load and the connection to disease means people are making the connection between sick livers and sick bodies. Hence, many are turning to removal/reduction of toxins from their environment and food sources, doing cleanses, using liver tonics and eating more liver supporting foods (you can read more about that by following the links at the end of this post).
All these things are very helpful to restore proper healthy functioning of the liver, but I believe many people are silently damaging their livers because they are harboring repressed anger…..
TCM & the Role of the Liver
According to Traditional Chinese Medicine’s Five Element Theory anger is the emotion associated with the Liver. If you are often irritable, get angry easily, have trouble unwinding from the day’s activities, have trouble reasoning or going with the flow and letting things go, you are experiencing a Liver function problem. Experiencing these emotions chronically or excessively can seriously unbalance the function of your Liver.
Qi is the Chinese name for a kind of energy that flows through the body. In TCM when Qi is blocked from its natural flow in the body it causes pain. The liver is the organ in charge of making sure all of the Qi in the body flows smoothly and in the correct manner and direction. The Liver is also in charge of filtering all of the toxins out of the blood and handling mental and emotional stress. 
When the liver has stagnation or blockage of Qi and the life flow is effected this can then trigger numerous health problems such as; headaches, indigestion, heartburn, chest pain, rib cage pain, back pain, shoulder blade pain, muscle tension, PMS, breast tenderness, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), abdominal pain or even cancer.
Many of you are looking for ways to improve your health and taking care of our liver is certainly essential but all the liver supporting stuff we add to our diets is for naught if we can’t get past anger.
~ I’ve experienced this reality check myself in my own life and also with some clients I have worked with. I am sharing a few of these stories with you in hopes this realization may spark in you an easing of anger and a readiness to let go.
- A man I’ll call Vincent grew up a vegetarian in a very, strict religious family. When I met him, Vincent had been suffering from severe gastritis, bloating, pain in upper abdomen right side and fatigue for some time. Vincent was treated for h.pylori by a doctor, however he still felt sick. Eating animal protein of any kind made him feel sick and he told me foods just “sit” in my stomach. He was also carrying around an extra 15 lbs. he just could not seem to shed. After immigrating to the US and starting his own very successful business, Vincent told me he still struggled to find happiness.
- A woman I’ll call Michelle came to see me complaining of severe bloating, belching and gas. Her symptoms were daily gurgling noises in her abdomen and an achy feeling under her lower right rib cage after eating. Working as a physical therapist these problems were impacting her ability to work with her patients. Michelle was also a mother of two young children. Her debilitating fatigue made her feel she was missing out on many of the joys of motherhood. She also confessed she was having marital problems with her husband and was contemplating divorce. When I talked to her she’s tearful, scattered, angry and frustrated.
- Another client I’ll call Joan came to me with a diagnosis of Multiple Sclerosis. She cried and trembled during much of our first appointment. As Joan held her stomach I remember her telling me how hopeless she felt and how angry she was that her body would not do what she wanted it too any longer. As I continued working with Joan she confided she had a bad relationship since childhood with her father and with felt very hostile toward her adult son who seemed controlling.
~ These kinds of emotional wounds are very traumatic. We all carry scars of painful moments and people who have deeply wounded us. It can be difficult if not impossible for us to forgive sometimes.
Carrying such emotions around impedes the healing process. Consider how being angry, sad or anxious impacts your body’s ability to breakdown and properly digest food when you’re in this state! There is a reason we say I have a “GUT” feeling.
Equally important to pay attention to are feelings of guilt or remorse. In order to be receptive to healing we must let go of those guilty feelings we harbor and get more comfortable with feelings of vulnerability as we embark on something new and unfamiliar.
I was able to help these people regain good health but not until they let go of their anger.
~ In each case this did not happen for Vincent, Michelle or Joan until each one made a decision to move forward. Once each of them broke free anger that held them back their bodies began to respond to the wellness it deserved.
Very often it’s these kinds of emotional wounds that we need to come to terms with before we can start to heal physically.
Until we can quiet the toxic emotions that harm us we cannot get to a place where our body is ready to receive the nourishment of even the healthiest of foods.
When I meet with clients like these I realize how much more this work is about than just helping people understand how to feed themselves.
Nourishing the soul is just as important.
Learning to love yourself is truly transformational.
Looking for an alternative to drugs and a more holistic approach to your health? Let’s connect! Contact me: Are we a fit?
Links to posts on liver health & detoxification: