The food in our diets and our emotions have one thing it common – both trigger the release of chemicals in our bodies. These chemicals initiate biochemical pathways, which determine specific outcomes. Anti-inflammatory food (e.g. omega 3 fats and mushrooms) elicits the anti-inflammatory pathways and foods which are warming (e.g. chilies and curries) set off pathways which will increase heat production in the body. The implication would be that anything which trigger the release of chemicals and consequently elicits some pathways in some way or another affecting our health in a corresponding way. (This is the basis on which supplements and pharmaceutical drugs work as well).
Emotions play a powerful role in our physical health and yet it is much undervalued, while millions of dollars are spent on claims on packaged food, drugs and supplements. We all know how embarrassment and excitement could both increase the blood flow to our cheeks and how stress could cause stomach ulcers. Our thoughts and the emotions that follow trigger the release of chemical substances which in turn are responsible for these physical reactions.
One model describes the emotion of fear as a possible root cause for an array of other negative emotions. If fear is not dealt with in an appropriate way, it will result in anger which could result into rage, hate, worry, grief and eventually the feeling of being a victim (depression).
In Chinese Medicine, they believe that specific emotions influence specific organs. In this way:
· Fear has a negative impact on the kidneys and bladder
· Anger and rage – liver and gallbladder
· Hate, pretense and hurt – heart and small intestine
· Worry – stomach and spleen/pancreas
· Grief, guilt, resentment and depression – lungs and large intestine
Western medicine acknowledges that stress causes stomach ulcers, high blood pressure and consequently stroke and heart attacks. It is also believed that people affected by sadness could suffer heart attacks. True to the nature of the allopathic medical system, millions of dollars are spent to produce synthetic chemicals to counteract the effect of fear (stress) in the form of sedatives, antidepressants and sleep aids. None of this has so far resulted in a solution and many of these medications have unwanted side effects and are highly addictive.
The good news is that there are ways to use these emotions to improve our health. For anyone on a quest to create an environment of self-healing, they will somewhere on their path, find a way to evoke emotions which calm down the nervous system to avoid the cascade of negative emotions.
Deepak Chopra did groundbreaking work on the positive effects of meditation on blood pressure and other physical changes. Other activities which could have a positive effect on our emotions, and eventually our health, are the chemicals released with dancing, singing, painting, loving, walking or any other physical activity. The list is really endless, and the only condition is that you should enjoy doing it.
These come at no cost and offer solutions to some health problems. It does however require mindfulness and dedication. The first challenge is to acknowledge the negative emotion, and then relearn the mind to think positively, and not negatively. If you practice this for a long time it will result in joy - which will support the constant release of chemicals supporting optimal health.