Anger Might Be Your Liver Talking

Ancient medicine and modern science find connections between emotions and our organs

It is difficult to imagine that our internal organs have an influence on how we feel. Most of us see emotions as responses to external situations or internal thoughts. But what if our organs could have a role to play in the complex world of feelings?

The ancient Greeks, for example, believed that the liver was the source of our emotions and the center of the soul. Even the words we use today to describe the liver such as “hepatic”, “hepatitis” and “hepatoma” come from the ancient Greek word “hepar”, which means liver.

The ancient Greeks also rightly knew that the liver had the ability to regenerate itself, and they believed this to be due to its divine nature. It can be seen in Greek mythology with the story of Prometheus’ punishment. Zeus, angry with Prometheus, punishes him by putting him in chains and sending an eagle to eat his liver.

Because he was immortal, his liver grew back every day and the eagle returned day after day to eat it. Yep.

The liver as we know it

In Western medicine, the liver is considered an essential part of our immune system because it defends itself against blood-borne infections and contains many innate and adaptive immune cells that detect and capture pathogens in our blood.

Located on the right, in the upper abdomen, the liver sits just below the ribs and above the stomach, intestines, and right kidney, and typically weighs around 3 pounds. It contains about a pint – or 13 percent – of the body’s total blood supply at any given time. There are actually over 500 vital functions that the liver performs, including producing bile (which helps remove waste and break down fat), cleansing the blood from drugs, alcohol, and others. toxic substances, and to resist infections by eliminating harmful bacteria. blood circulation.

Maintaining a healthy liver can be achieved by avoiding drugs and moderating alcohol consumption, eating a healthy diet, exercising, and being careful when traveling to places where hepatitis A and B are common because they are the most easily transmitted.

Hepatitis, which causes swelling and damage to the liver, is caused by several viruses. The most common are A, B, C, D, and E. Hepatitis A is contracted by coming into contact with contaminated food or water, or the stool of an infected person. Hepatitis B is spread through contact with the blood or body fluids of an infected person.

The liver from another angle

Interestingly, in oriental medicine the liver is associated with the emotion of anger. When we express resentment, frustration, or irritability, we are seen to be expressing our hepatic energies.

Oriental medicine takes a different approach to what makes us sick and why. One of the main differences is that he sees body and mind as intimately linked. For example, oriental medicine attributes different emotions to many internal organs. Emotions, when felt intensely or for long periods of time, according to this philosophy, can make us sick. Conversely, if an organ is not functioning properly, this can have an effect on the emotion associated with it.

A person with an imbalanced liver may experience excess anger, and excessive anger that has persisted for months or years could eventually harm the liver organ. Emotions are therefore actually a diagnostic tool as well as a cause of illness, which is a bit of a departure for many Westerners.

From this eastern perspective, the liver also has many important functions in the body, including being responsible for the smooth flow of qi in all directions. Qi is the energy that our body uses on a daily basis and is created from the air we breathe and the food we eat. In Eastern philosophy, qi is the energy that animates all living things.

A healthy liver also allows for rapid recovery after physical activity and allows for graceful movements and a flexible body. This makes sense if we compare it to the Western view of the liver because of its functions of cleaning the blood of toxins and removing potentially harmful pathogens. A healthy liver equals a healthy, vital body.

From the point of view of oriental medicine, a healthy liver will also give its owner great courage and determination and the ability to plan his life wisely, efficiently and with a clear sense of direction. His duties and responsibilities are not only physical, but also encompass the emotional and spiritual realms.

Scientific studies suggest a connection

Some interesting studies suggest that science is also exploring this link. Many cultures have long believed that the connection between emotions and organs exists, and several studies can now prove that this could in fact be the case.

A study, conducted by Rachel Lampert at Yale University School of Medicine, titled “Anger and Ventricular Arrhythmias,” found that anger does have an effect on cardiac arrhythmias, which are a disturbance of the heart rhythm.

The study found that psychological stress resulting from emotionally devastating events such as natural disasters or war can increase arrhythmias and even sudden death. Journal-based studies show anger and other negative emotions can be fatal. Their results concluded that anger and other strong emotions can trigger “life-threatening ventricular arrhythmias in vulnerable patients.”

Another study explored the link between anger and cluster headaches. Cluster headaches are a type of intensely painful headache that occurs in cycles or “clusters.” The study, published by Marialuisa Rausa and titled “Anger and its expression in cluster headache versus migraine” found that patients with cluster headaches experienced more anger than those with migraines, demonstrating a link between the intensity of the pain and the intensity of the emotion.

Another study, published in the Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, found that reducing anger through cognitive behavioral therapy allows people to achieve more equanimity and thus be better equipped to deal with challenges. stressors of daily life.

Emotional awareness for the new year

It is interesting to explore the idea that our bodies – the complex and magnificent organisms that they are – could be more than just a mechanical device that keeps us alive through its endless array of biological processes. Maybe instead, looking at it in a more holistic way, we can begin to see that we are in fact so much more.

As a New Year dawns, perhaps we can broaden our view of health to include not only the health of our bodies (as we do with resolutions like eating better and exercising), but also that of our emotions. Many holistic disciplines believe that there is a vital connection between the two that science is now beginning to explore. Perhaps emotional awareness and self-regulation could have a place in the complex world of human health.

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