Anger and Liver Chi, what do they have in common?

anger-300x225I’ve always been intrigued by the Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) philosophy and I’ve also had great results from therapies that use these philosophies. These therapies have ranged anywhere from foods I eat to acupuncture and herbal remedies. However, one of the most challenging aspects of TCM is that for many westerners it is tough to grasp the concepts behind these very effective philosophy. So when I find an article that explains things in simple terms, I like to share it with others.

I trust you’ll enjoy this article on “Do You Feel Irritable, Frustrated or Angry? You May Have Constricted Liver Chi”.

In traditional medicine, environmental influences were one of the many factors seen to influence our health and well-being. Many people are aware that depression is more common in winter, especially in December and January, but did you know that anger is more common in summer. It seems that when temperatures soar, so do tempers. More murders are committed in the hot summer months than any other time of the year.

Depression is often seen as a health problem, requiring treatment with drugs and/or counseling. Doesn’t it make sense that excessive anger is also a health problem?

Traditional medicine recognized this connection. Both Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) and traditional Western medicine saw the liver and gallbladder as the seat of anger, a concept our language still acknowledges in the phrase “that galls me.”

While the concept that anger damages the liver and that liver problems make us irritable might be foreign to Western medical thinking, the idea that anger is bad for our health isn’t. It’s well established that excessively angry people are more prone to heart problems and the extremely large numbers of people who suffer from cardiovascular disease suggest that many of us have issues with anger.

So, as we enter the hottest time of the year, it might be wise to take a look at some natural ways to deal with excess anger. Let’s begin by exploring the concept of “constricted liver chi” from Chinese medicine. Our title asks if you have this problem and you may find after reading this article that you, or at least someone close to you, does.

To understand the liver chi (or energy), we first need to understand the Chinese wood element, because the liver and gallbladder are associated with the wood element in Chinese medicine. In TCM, wood is the energy that allows us to grow, expand and spread out. I like to think of it as the energy of life or the will to live. This idea is inherent in the very name of the organ, the liver (i.e., the live-er). This suggests that the drive to live or survive is found there.

In TCM, the liver is the harmonizing organ in the body. It helps all the other organs work together harmoniously. When this “wood” energy governing the liver is balanced, it also helps us work harmoniously with other people. It helps us flow through life.

So, what happens when this flow of liver (wood or life) energy inside us gets constricted? Well, to understand this, imagine you are driving down the freeway. You are a little behind schedule, but you know that you’ll reach your destination in time if you are able to just keep going at your current speed.

Now imagine that you suddenly run into a huge traffic jam that’s been caused by construction or a traffic accident. The traffic slows to a standstill and you suddenly find yourself creeping along in bumper to bumper traffic with no end in sight.

How do you feel? Well, you probably feel a bit upset, at least a little irritated, and maybe even downright angry and frustrated. That’s how we feel when the “flow” of life gets interrupted. Think of it as a “traffic jam” in our liver chi.

Life presents many traffic jams to us, because things seldom go exactly as we’d like. Our food is slow in coming at the restaurant and when it does the order is wrong. Our luggage is lost or delayed on our plane flight. People miss important appointments with us, or fail to do what they promised. In each case, the flow of our life is disrupted and we have to readjust and compensate for the obstacles that come in our path.

If you have a healthy body and balanced emotions, you’ll probably get over your initial sense of frustration about these “traffic jams” of life fairly rapidly. You’ll realize “stuff happens,” deal with it and move on.

For those with constricted liver chi, however, these minor “traffic jams” of life produce loss of temper and even fits of rage. They have a hard time readjusting their flow, so they try to “charge through” with the weight of their angry energy, like a bull charging the red cape.

Losing one’s temper rarely fixes the problem, because the situation triggering the anger and irritability is usually out of our control. (For example, getting angry and honking your horn at other drivers won’t make the traffic move faster.) In fact, loss of temper often triggers anger and resistance in others that makes them put up even more road blocks to our progress.

With our aggressive drive to “get ahead” and our impatience to “have it now,” it’s clear that America is a “wood-driven” culture. As such, a large percentage of us are easily irritated, frustrated and impatient. There are several health problems that this creates, all of which involve a constriction of “flow” in the body.

We’ve already mentioned the connection between anger and heart disease. Heart disease is a block in the flow of life. A heart attack is a block of blood flow to the heart and a stroke is a block in blood flow to the brain. Anger makes us more prone to both.

The blocking of flow in irritability is also found in the phrase, “p*ssed off.” This suggests that anger inhibits the flow of urine. It can also make us “tight ***ed,” suggesting constipation and bowel problems. Things that frustrate and irritate us give us headaches (which usually involve obstructions in the flow of blood to the head or a block in nerve supply).

Nature’s Sunshine offers an herbal formula that helps to correct constricted liver chi. It is sold under the trade name Liver Balance, but it’s Chinese name is Tiao He, which means “mediate harmony.” Liver Balance helps restore flow and balance to the wood energy or liver chi in the body. It can aid liver and digestive problems, while reducing feelings of anger and irritability.

Some of the indications you might need Liver Balance include: flushing of the face, a tendency to get headaches, difficulty relaxing at night, groggy feelings in the morning, and, of course, feeling easily angered, irritated or frustrated.

So, next time you’re feeling angry, frustrated and irritable, consider trying Liver Balance. You can also try it on family members and friends. You may be pleased to discover how it can mediate a little harmony in your life.

Author: Steven Horne, RH(AHG).