Many people turn to acupuncture and Chinese medicine for anxiety and depression. For many people, anxiety only presents itself in specific situations. For many others, however, a constant sensation of anxiety can be present on a daily basis. Understanding the “presentation” of anxiety is key in treating it from a traditional Chinese medical perspective.
In a traditional Chinese medical (CM) context, each organ corresponds with a unique emotion. The emotions are as follows: Lung is grief, spleen is overthinking/worry, kidney is fear, liver is frustration/anger and heart is joy. Although each organ gives rise to its own unique emotion, the heart is known as the “emperor” of all emotions; it is responsible for processing ALL emotions. This is because the heart houses our Shen, which is our consciousness. Shen is our spirit, the essence of who we are. The best way to think of this is in terms of nature versus nurture. Shen is our nature—it is our personality and is a part of us before we are born. This is why we ALWAYS treat the heart channel when it comes to anxiety. Whether we need to support or sedate it depends on each person’s unique presentation and experience, but it is never ignored. In addition, the source of anxiety is always important in CM. If there is an underlying component of frustration with anxiety, we would also consider the liver channel. As a holistic medical practice, CM always takes into consideration all aspects of a person’s physical and emotional balance in treatment.