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  • Greenstone Acupuncture

The 7 Emotions in Chinese Medicine

In Chinese medicine, one of the root causes of disharmonies in the body is believed to be produced from emotional imbalances. Emotions are a normal part of the human condition, but it is when these are suppressed or prolonged that they are considered to be a pathogenic factor. Once emotions become injured, this can cause an abnormal movement of qi within the body and impact the vitality of the internal organs.

There are seven emotions (known as qi qing) and each is associated with a particular organ.

1. JOY

In Chinese medicine theory, joy is associated with the heart. The heart is our emotional centre and houses our spiritual and emotional being known as our shen. A healthy expression of joy nourishes the heart. An imbalance can appear as an excess (overexcited, agitated, or restless) or deficiency (flat and depressed). Sleep conditions are a common symptom of an imbalance with the heart.


According to TCM, anger is paired with the Liver. Repressed or excess anger can inhibit the function of the liver leading to frustration, aggression, and resentment. When Liver qi ascends in the body, this can manifest as headaches, irritability, red eyes, and dizziness.


From a Chinese medicine perspective, sadness affects the function of the lungs. The lung primary function is to disperse and descend qi throughout the body. Prolonged or unprocessed melancholy impairs the lungs and causes oppression in the chest and depression.


According to TCM, grief is also related to the lungs. Grief consumes qi and as a result this can lead to shortness of breath, lethargy, depression, and exhaustion.


According to TCM, pensiveness or worry affects the spleen. The spleen is responsible for the transformation and transportation of food and nutrients around the body. Hence, excessive worry can tax the spleen’s ability to digest food. Digestive issues such as constipation, diarrhoea, and abdominal distension all result from a deficiency of the spleen.


Fear injures the kidneys. Normal kidney qi has an ascending and upward flow. However, fear can cause the qi to flow downwards causing weakness in the legs, incontinence, and increased urination.


Shock primarily affects the heart and the kidneys. Shock can scatter qi which can cause heart palpitations, confusion, and poor memory.

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