I saw this article from the Wall Street Journal this morning, titled: Anger Does a Lot More Damage to Your Body Than You Realize and I’ve gotta say, I’m glad that our culture is finally catching up to what the ancients have known for millenia.

Here are a few choice excerpts, in case you cannot access the article:

Getting angry doesn’t just hurt our mental health, it’s also damaging to our hearts, brains and gastrointestinal systems, according to doctors and recent research. Of course, it’s a normal emotion that everyone feels—few of us stay serene when a driver cuts us off or a boss makes us stay late. But getting mad too often or for too long can cause problems.”

““We speculate over time if you’re getting these chronic insults to your arteries because you get angry a lot, that will leave you at risk for having heart disease,” says Dr. Daichi Shimbo, a professor of medicine at Columbia University and lead author of the study.”

“In addition, the space in between cells in the lining of the intestines opens up, which allows more food and waste to go in those gaps, creating more inflammation that can fuel symptoms such as stomach pain, bloating or constipation.”

For those in the know, the space between cells in the lining of the intestines is also called Leaky Gut, which until recently, the medical community dismissed as a “quack” disease or diagnosis. Leaky Gut occurs when long-term anger burns away the delicious Yin-soft-juicness of your body. In Chinese Medicine, this is often called “Liver attacking the Spleen” or “Wood attacking Earth”, except it’s deeper than just plain old Liver and Spleen stuff. This is Yin Deficiency and it’s serious – it’s why it is so difficult to recover and heal from.

“Anger can harm our cognitive functioning, says Joyce Tam, an assistant professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago. It involves the nerve cells in the prefrontal cortex, the front area of our brain that can affect attention, cognitive control and our ability to regulate emotions.”

“… figure out if you’re angry too much or too often. There’s no hard and fast rule. But you may have cause for concern if you’re angry for more days than not, or for large portions of the day, says Antonia Seligowski, an assistant professor of psychiatry at Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School, who studies the brain-heart connection.”

What does all of this mean from a CHINESE MEDICINE lens or from a Connecting the Dots lens, you might ask…

For one…

Your Liver is the organ system that is in charge of smooth emotions (meaning: no outbursts of anger, no stewing in emotions, no stuck in emotions, stuff like that), and your Liver is also in charge of the smooth flow of Blood in your body.

When you have anger as a prevalent emotion in your life there can be a few things happening:

1. Your boundaries are not being honored, set, and/or are regularly “crossed” – when this happens, and you do not “do” anything about it, you become angry because anger is a HEALTHY emotion that shows that something needs to shift within YOUR inner world (and your external world too, but it starts inside)

2. You are not expressing yourself in healthy ways FOR YOU. In order to feel at-ease as much of the time as is possible, do you know what you need on a daily basis? Are you doing that?

3. You do not feel like you are the creator or your own life. (This ties to 1 and 2, right?) When you feel like everything is happeniing TO you and not something you’ve chosen… well, life can stink. Then you can get angry.

4. You wouldn’t believe it, unless you’ve felt it yourself, but eating, sleeping, and living a life that’s healthy for you, has a profound impact on your emotional state.

LONG-term chronic anger not only negatively impacts the Liver but your entire body.

The Heart organ system is in charge of the circulation of Blood. When the Liver is on attack (aka angry), the smooth flow of Blood to the Heart is interrupted and then the Heart gets sick. So then you have not one problem (your Liver) but two: your Liver and your Heart.

If you have anger “issues”, you can look at the points above and see what comes up for you.

If you are ready to take the step into eating for emotional well-being:

  1. Eat more green things (vegetables) in your day, at least one serving with each meal.
  2. Reduce the coffee and caffeine intake.
  3. If you eat nuts or nut butters most days of the week, reduce to once a week (or less) and see how you feel. (Nuts and nut butters “congest” the Liver’s function, because they are so rich and dense.)
  4. Reduce, and preferably eliminate for a period of time, cheese & dairy products (ie mac n’ cheese, ice cream, cream, pizza, etc), fried and oily foods (chips, fries, pastries, etc.)
  5. Eliminate alcohol and cannabis from your life (it may relax you at first, but all it does is mess up your Liver functioning).

Basically: eat simply, with fresh foods that you prepare yourself (if possible), and keep the number of ingredients in a dish to a minimum. Think of it as a “cleanse” where you give your body a chance to reset. In that time, you will notice a difference in how you feel.

You’ll also notice your tendencies (ie cravings) and how you respond to them can be very illuminating too!

Your body is designed to move.

If you don’t move then your body becomes grumpy. Grumpy bodies create grumpy people!

Move in a way that feels good to you every day. I know that a lot of folks are busy with work, kids and home, but find 20 mins to move your body. Maybe instead of plopping on the couch after dinner and work, you can go out for a leisurely 20 minute walk in the neighborhood.

If you would like support for an emotional challenge, utilizing herbs, food, supplements, homeopathics or even just how you talk to yourself, book a session and get started today.