Today is the 16th February, just two days after Valentine’s Day. It’s gorgeous to see that many people are wandering around still exhibiting the after-glow generated by gifts of flowers, chocolates, champagne and time with their loved one. (Although, shouldn’t it be like this most of the time?)
Valentine’s Day, even though it’s origins are in nothing more significant than a greeting card marketing exercise, has become symbolic to many as a day to celebrate romantic love. This day has been responsible for igniting new love, but sadly, with the pressures it brings, has also been known to be a catalyst in the demise of relationships.
Recently, I have seen several patients in my clinic, looking for support in matters of the heart. (Yes, who would have thought it? Acupuncture can do more than just relieve physical pain!) So, today it seems timely to discuss ‘the broken heart’ from a Traditional Chinese Medicine perspective.
Break-ups are rarely ever easy, for either partner, and the emotions they conjure up can create undesired effects in our bodies. The old saying “time heals all wounds” is applicable here as the broken-hearted embark on an emotional journey (often laced with mysterious physical symptoms like nausea or muscle tension) to mend. When these issues do not resolve in a timely manner, professional counselling is highly recommended.
The five element theory that is deeply rooted within Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) gives us some clues in treating matters of the heart. This theory pairs the organs of the body with emotional states. Whilst, the heart is seen as the organ that is tied to our ‘spirit’, many other organs are also tied to common emotions that may be experienced following a break up. I should point out here, that in TCM each organ is given some additional ‘energetic’ functions in addition to their biomedical functions so you can have a TCM ‘liver disorder’ without having a physical liver problem.
So, simply and generally put, the five elements can explain some of the mental and physical symptoms of a broken heart as follows:
Fire Element – Heart and pericardium – the pericardium is the protector of the heart and emotionally characterised by feeling anxious or a lack of joy. Physical symptoms may include insomnia, palpitations or inappropriate behaviour.
Wood Element – Liver – for feelings of anger, ‘stuckness’, resentment, irritation, frustration, depression and mood swings. Physical symptoms may include neck and shoulder tension, chest tightness, nausea and digestive disorders that have a direct correlation to your emotional state.
Earth Element – Spleen & Stomach – for feelings of worry, obsessive thoughts and inability to concentrate. Physical symptoms may include lack of appetite, low energy, digestive disorders and sweet cravings.
Metal Element – Lungs – when grief and sadness are the principal feelings surrounding the break-up. Physical symptoms may include low energy, respiratory disorders, concave chest posture, weak voice and skin problems.
Water Element – Kidneys – when fear is a primary emotion. Physical symptoms may include poor memory, urinary problems, reproductive system disorders and lower back ache.
Through discussing a person’s emotional and physical symptoms an individualised acupuncture treatment for supporting someone with ‘love sickness’ can be designed. It would usually include some lifestyle advice so that the patient may begin to take control of their own situation and feel better, more quickly, between treatments. I have seen many patients respond well to acupuncture treatment in gaining clarity of mind and renewed energy allowing them to face their new path with enthusiasm.
To book an appointment at the clinic or further information on Chinese Medicine contact Dr Sarah George (Acupuncture). Sarah is a practitioner of acupuncture (AHPRA registered), massage therapy and natural health.