Friday October 4th, 2019
Depression and anxiety not only in Australia but world wide, are being experienced and diagnosed at an all time high and it’s a perfectly reasonable question to ask why. And whilst there is certainly a hormonal element to our emotional wellbeing, our modern fast paced lives, lack of good nutrition, unrealistic expectations, pressure from work, school or family life and heredity factors all play a role. But most of all, these factors all affect how our body performs.
With the stress of life being more to bear than ever before, we must not wonder why this is happening but begin to look for more viable clues and solutions to help us live our best lives. If we fail to do this, it can affect us deeply and spill into our daily regime by default, where we can quickly lose interest in the things we once loved.
Depression has some characteristic associated symptoms which may include issues with sleep (either insomnia, inability to stay asleep or for some fatigue which causes more desire for sleep and sleeping long periods of time), appetite (either heightened desire for food or complete lack of appetite), there may be difficulty concentrating, inability to make decisions, and can split into more harmful thoughts of ending life or self harm. Whatever the combination of symptoms, when these are seen alongside low mood for an extended period of time (two weeks or more) depression may be diagnosed.
Anxiety on the other hand is more so a total feeling of overwhelm and pressure which may result in similar symptoms especially when it comes to sleep and appetite. Whilst the root cause maybe somewhat different ie lack of sleep due to overstimulation (verses depression causing interrupted sleep), the underlying organ imbalance may in-fact be the same. Both can affect a person in similar ways and when we look at pathology in Chinese Medicine, we can quickly begin to see that it doesn’t matter what causes the emotional changes are, but how we treat it according to the organs is what matters most.
Simply masking the symptoms can lead to further imbalance in the body. To truly address the emotions we must look at the root of the problem.
According to Chinese Medicine theory, every organ provides two functions; its physical role to keep us alive as well as the emotional role which is equally vital to life. With this in mind, we say the role of each organ is therefore fifty percent physical and fifty percent emotional. Perhaps you’ve received awful news and you’ve instantly felt sick to your stomach or maybe you’ve found yourself angry and doubled over with a stitch or rib side pain. Our emotions are real and affect us greatly - no different to a bug or virus it all equates to changes in homeostasis.
In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) there are the five vital organs we focus on, each also housing a dominant emotion. For the spleen it’s worry (spleen is likened to the gut with the inclusion of the stomach and therefore the pivot of digestion), the lung is sadness, the kidney is fear, liver pertains to anger and the heart to over joy. When there is disharmony of the organ this will show up as being both a physical and emotional imbalance.
When we are focusing on the emotional wellbeing of a person in Chinese Medicine we must always first look to the heart. The heart is considered the ruler of all organs and whilst Chinese medicine shares the same understanding that the heart pumps blood around the body, it’s also seen to govern mental and emotional processes.
The heart houses the ‘mind’ (called ‘Shen’ in TCM) and most often turned to when treating symptoms of Shen disturbance including anxiety and depression but not limited to. When the heart is in its most optimal state, it maintains emotional balance and our innate wisdom and we feel happy and healthy and thrive.
But when we see imbalance of the heart, not only may we see emotional upset, but a host of physical symptoms that come along including shortness of breath, sweating, mental restlessness, lack of focus or concentration, forgetfulness, chest pain and palpitations and more. When the heart is deficient we may also see other symptoms of cold hands and feet, insomnia and a pale complexion.
For this reason you can see how important the role of the heart is according to TCM aetiology. By maximising the heart energy flow, we can begin to see immediate changes not just in the physical symptoms but in the emotional health too.
But no one organ works alone. And whilst all the organs work together like a symphony orchestra, the relationship between specific organs can most certainly have ideal outcomes, especially when treating depression and anxiety.
Healthy brain function therefore not only relies on the health of the heart, but in TCM also the function of the liver. The liver, just like the heart can become imbalanced due to our hectic lifestyles and lack of rest and good nutrition.
The Liver in TCM is responsible for the smooth flow of qi and blood in the body. Blood, we’re all familiar with but qi may be a foreign term but extremely important in TCM. Consider Qi your life force, the unsubstantial element that keeps the body in a constant state of flow and somewhat drives blood and nutrients through the various levels, stages and systems of the body.
Your liver is the organ that is most affected by excess stress or emotions. When the liver is in disharmony, be it over or under preforming we can too see a variety of symptoms including aches and pains (the liver is said to govern tendons), blurry vision or eye problems including dryness or itching as well as irritability, headaches, easy to anger and imbalanced emotions. Issues also related to menstruation can often be associated with the liver. By way of example, pre-menstrual tension, which many women experience can often be associated with the liver where we can complain of feeling frustrated, stuck and grumpy. Those ‘stuck’ emotions begin to have obvious physical symptoms.
Both the liver and heart become a very powerful combination in treating emotional health and wellbeing, as you can see, they very much control how we may feel in any moment of the day. When in disharmony, the symptoms can far extend that of the emotions which can become great clues as to where the imbalances in your body may lie.
For the sake of our all round wellbeing, it is essential that we dive deeper into the disharmonies that may exist which contribute to our overall health. When we can address these two key organs involved in our emotional health we may begin to experience immediate positive changes to our overall disposition.
By increasing the flow of nutrients, qi and blood, the body very quickly restores it’s innate state of balance and we can’t help but feel that, positively. Our moods and symptoms begin to improve and we are acquainted with our zest for life. And when we can lead the body back to this naturally, the benefits aren’t short lived.
Chinese medicine focuses directly at treating the core of any condition and depression and anxiety is no exception. Sunny pills include herbal ingredients such as Rehmannia Root - a key ingredient that has been used in Chinese medicine for thousands of years to positively support the liver gently regulate blood flow, Ziziphus jujubar var. Spinosa known for its positive effects on anxiety because it nourishes the heart and calms shen as well as cinnamon cassia twig which is wonderful to support overall circulation and wellbeing amongst other traditional herbal ingredients all included to deliver a beautifully balanced formulation. But it isn’t just the single action of these herbs alone, moreso how they interact together to really balance the organs and effectively treat the body.
As you can see, feeling better isn’t about blocking or dampening body signals but quite the contrary; it’s focused on boosting the body’s own state of flow and balance. When we can use natural methods which directly impact the source of the symptoms (Liver and Heart), the effectiveness of this is unquestionable. Sunny pills are able to directly treat the imbalance of emotional disharmony because the carefully crafted formula with all plant ingredients directly address the root cause rather than just treat the symptoms. This means their effectiveness is less of a quick fix and more of a wonderful long term solution to treating low mood and anxiety.