Chinese Medicine for Emotional Balance


Although we hear a lot about how great acupuncture is for injuries and back pain (which it is!!), what social media doesn’t always give voice to is how skilled Chinese Medicine is at treating and helping patients balance emotional disorders. With a background of 20 plus years as a behavioral and sensory specialist, Kade at Vitality Wellness is well versed in the myriad of ways emotions can interrupt a healthy flow in your life! AND, they’re prepared with an armful of Chinese Medicine tools to help assist you in regaining a sense of that balance back in your life!


From a Chinese Medicine perspective, emotions are one of the main sources of disease in the internal body. This does NOT mean that emotions are BAD!!!! Emotions are an important part of our lives as humans on this earth and are good indicators for balance or lack of balance in one’s health. When our emotions are experienced in imbalanced ways that continually create disharmony in our lives, they are an indication of a greater imbalance in our body that needs addressed. Chinese Medicine has a medical diagnostic system with a lens towards emotional health and dis-ease and can help you get more precise treatment for your own individualized experience of how your specific emotions affect your system’s balance. 


As a brief overview, Chinese Medicine looks at emotions through 5 main elements or organ systems: Water, Wood, Fire, Earth and Metal. Each of these elements have corresponding organ systems that relate to them. Due to our Western anatomy and scientific knowledge overshadowing and coloring in our ability to hear the organ systems named without misinterpretation with their Chinese Medicine intentions, I prefer to just stick with the “element” description of the systems. 


The water element is how we are carried in utero and what we are born into.  It involves our purpose in life and includes the emotion of fear-too much or too little of this emotion points to an imbalance in the organ systems involving this element and requires treatment accordingly. Many times individuals experiencing childhood traumas carry an aspect of imbalance in this system throughout their lives which impacts their interactions with others as well as overall health and balance in these organ systems and in their body in general. 


The wood element is what we work with in the world during this lifetime. It involves how we navigate the obstacles life and society and culture throw at us as we are trying to achieve our said purpose in life and includes the emotion of anger (irritation, agitation)-too much or too little of this emotion points to an imbalance in the organ systems involving this element and requires treatment accordingly. 


The fire element is our passion in life. It is how we take that purpose we were born with and create it into our passion and focus of life. It involves the emotion of joy. Now many would argue that there can never be too much joy in life. I can neither agree nor disagree with this statement for that is entirely a personal choice. However what I can astutely point out is that in Chinese Medicine, it is about the balance of that emotion (in this case joy) with circumstance and nuance. Can an individual respond compassionately to a sorrowful situation appropriately or be challenged and never be able to exude anything but a hyper fixated “joyful” approach to all situations? Is it true joy, or excess mania? Is the emotion actually joy or a false “rose colored” perspective that one has become skilled at adapting to in this socialized world where that which isn’t “joyful or positive” is often considered bad or wrong or harmful? Again. All nuances. But something to consider. As with the other organ systems, too much or too little of this emotion points to an imbalance in the organ systems involving this element and requires treatment accordingly. 


The earth element is like our digestive organs. It is that which takes in information from the outside world and processes this information to either enrich and support the body, or makes the choice it is unnecessary waste and discards it to be eliminated from the body. This can be food, encounters in life, interactions with others or events in society, or be emotions in general. Earth speaks to how we take in the world and process it. Therefore, it correlates to fulfillment in life-or lack thereof. And a primary emotion of it is worry. Manytimes (but not all-most of we humans do not have simple case studies with single elements in balance-it’s usually a concoction of several at once in varying proportions) folks who have trouble falling asleep or waking at night with thought of stress/worries racing through one’s mind tend to have at least a bit of the earth element involved in their condition needing treatment accordingly. 


The metal element is our final element in our Chinese Medicine 5 element emotional perspective of the body. This element has to do with our physical body and includes boundaries and safety. It differs from the water element though in that it doesn’t regulate fear as much as it speaks to longing and grief. As with the other elements, too much or too little of this emotion points to an imbalance in the organ systems involving this element and requires treatment accordingly. 


As I mentioned in the earth element description, we humans are not simple creatures. Our emotions range from a variety of sources and involve a multitude of systems. In addition, the fire system is our overarching connection to our higher level of processing emotions. So often when we have some emotional imbalance, it too is involved-even if it is not the initial source. To make matters a bit more complicated, the wood element organs have the job of smoothly dispersing our energy through our body. Thus, if emotions are high, wood is on overdrive (and often reacts in a bullying sort of way and attacks slightly weaker organ systems). This is one way Chinese Medicine can explain how emotions out of balance strongly or for long enough can actually cause physical discomfort and actually illnesses in the body. 


While all of this sounds interesting as a philosophy, I can understand how challenging it may be to actually see how Chinese Medicine can actually make you feel better. The only answer I have to that one is two fold: one, Chinese Medicine has extensive diagnostics we utilize alongside this theory in order to accurately treat your condition. And Two? (& the best answer I have) come check out our medicine for yourself. Through acupuncture, auricular acupuncture, herbal medicine, medical body work like shiatsu and tuina, qigong, and even dietary changes, we can help you start feeling a sense of balance again with your whole body which in turn will regulate your emotional self as well. I have treated numerous patients with a variety of Western Psychology and Psychiatric Diagnoses with Chinese Medicine and most patients have seen significant changes to their overall health and wellbeing after receiving CM treatments. Important to note: CM is not a pill. It involves time, commitment to treatment, following procedures in the office as well as at home, and potentially also referrals to other mental health professionals to treat various aspects of one’s condition concurrently. However, I am a strong supporter as well as recipient of CM for emotional regulation and I cannot begin to offer enough words of praise as to how well this modality has served me in my life. Feel free to contact me, Kade, and set up an in-person OR telehealth appointment (teleheath is a convenient and effective way to utilize the 5 branches of Chinese Medicine to treat emotional conditions affecting one’s overall health) so you can begin to feel more balance in and ease with your life!