If you are chronically unwell then usually you will be emotionally ‘off’ as well. We mostly assume that being unwell causes negative emotions such as grumpiness, short tempers, even misery and depression. However, according to Chinese medicine, this street runs both ways. For several thousand years Chinese physicians have understood the close relationship of emotions to health and have fine tuned a method to cure emotional ill health through the body and physical ill health through working with the emotions.
In order to understand better where your chronic illness may be coming from, you will need to take an honest look at what kind of person you are. In Chinese medicine we are broadly divided into 5 categories described metaphorically as Wood, Fire, Earth, Metal and Water. Each of these 5 Phases or Elements corresponds to a pair of internal organs, to a predominating emotion and most importantly, to a virtue. When the emotion or the organ is out of harmony, then negative emotion and illness begin to take root.
The Wood or Liver type of person likes to control and organize. They are affected by tight muscular contraction, often around shoulders and knees, headaches, burning eyes, acid refux, to name a few. Anger, irritability and eventually depression are the result of disharmony. Organisation and kindness are the virtues.
The Fire or Heart type loves to laugh and enjoy life. They can be affected by palpitations, heart murmurs and irregular heart beats. Over excitement and exciteability are the result of disharmony. Joy, good humour and humility are the virtues.
The Earth or Spleen type is caring and sympathetic. They are prone to digestive disorders, IBS, diarhea, constipation, bloating after eating, to name a few. Worry and overthinking are the result of disharmony. Caring, sympathy and faithfulness are the virtues.
The Metal or Lung type is analytical. They are prone to respiratory disorder, hayfever, asthma, bronchitiis and so on. Out of harmony they suffer from sadness and grief. Their virtue is fairness.
The Water or Kidney type is creative. They tend towards bladder, kidney and low back disorders. Out of harmony they are prone to fearfulness. Functioning correctly they are courageous and wise.
How you think and feel not only makes you the kind of person you are, it also can dictate the kind of patient you may become and the specific way that your illness will try to teach you. If you are chronically ill then take some time to see what this is telling you about your thoughts, your emotions and about who you are as a person. There is always something new to learn. While achieving insight about your constitutional type may not ‘cure’you of an ailment overnight, it may well put you on the road to a long term recovery andl will enable your Chinese Medicine practitioner to help you more effectively.
Liam Byrne, Yoga & Pilates Instructor, Acupuncturist, Physical Therapist, Sports Massage Therapist,