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Stress and Digestion: What your mind can do to your belly.

Updated: Jan 22, 2019



Have you ever been so upset that you couldn't eat? Or maybe you could and you couldn't stop? It's a lot more common than you think. I'd say that it is even a cliche. So, what's the deal? How can our emotions dictate our appetite?

Hmm comfort food.
Comfort food exist for a reason, and it's all in your emotions.

In Chinese Medicine, there is something of a love/hate relationship between your digestive system otherwise known as your Spleen and Stomach and their adversary the Liver. Well adversary is a strong word, Liver just has things that it wants to do and it does not care about how you feel about it.


The Liver (Chinese version)


According to Chinese medical theory, the Liver is not just the major filter of the body that breaks down alcohol and various other poisons and gets rid of dead cells in the blood. It actually provides a some very important functions. The most important one is the storage of Blood. Incidentally, your Blood stores your emotions. Therefore, by the transitive property, the Liver stores emotions, and its main emotion is anger. Grrrrrrrr. So for those of you into comic books and super hero movies you're gonna love this. The color of the Liver is green and it is made of Wood. The Hulk is green and he is a big muscular mass of anger. That is a blog post in itself.


So, what does the Liver being made of Wood and filled with emotions that are found in the Blood have to do with digestion? It is because both the Spleen and the Stomach are made of Earth and are yellow. When the Liver is not functioning properly with causes that range from not enough Blood to that guy on the freeway that cut me off at 100 miles an hour; the Liver will start looking for new territory to settle. Since the Liver is made of Wood, and trees are Wood, and trees grow in the ground/Earth, then the Liver invades the Spleen and the Stomach.


The interesting part is depending on what other organ the Liver is invading will inform what symptoms we see. If it invades the Spleen then depending on if the Spleen is deficient or normal will cause a change in appetite. If the Spleen is weak then you will likely lose your appetite. If it is more on the level of normal then you will likely need to eat a lot.


If the Liver invades the Stomach then things like nausea, gurgling, or even vomiting will usually show. If it both then we will often see a mismatch of symptoms and we call it a hot mess.


If the Liver invades the Large Intestine, then you will start to see the symptoms of IBS or Irritable Bowel Syndrome. For the most part it is alternating constipation and diarrhea which is linked to stress. It is not fun.


Treatment


So how would I treat this? First we need to soothe the Liver and get it to calm the heck down. Next we need to reset and build up the unfortunate organ that the Liver attacked. This is most commonly done with LV 3 and LI 4 this is called the 4 Gates, and it is usually mixed with SP 6 and then something called a source point on the channel of the affected organ. These are then linked up with another point or two for the outward manifestation of the entire problem. Herbs if wanted or indicated can vary drastically, but the safest and most general is Xiao Yao San.


Of course, if this is a long term issue, then other means of treatment such as counseling would be advised.


If you have any questions please feel free to contact me and possibly set up a time for a consultation or treatment.

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