Just about every person on earth today carries some anger. Anger hurts not only oneself, but also our loved ones. It destroys health, traumatizes families and relationships, jeopardizes work relationships and jobs, and perpetuates negativities and unhappiness in one's life. Chronic anger can erode one's self-esteem, breeds self-denigration and deep guilt.
Chinese medicine regards anger as neither a personality trait nor a reflection of one's character, but a health disorder. It thus provides treatments -- giving hope and healing to fragmented families, hurt individuals and relationships. Chinese medicine recognizes anger as a physiological imbalance treatable naturally with acupuncture and herbs. Knowing that anger is physiological in nature helps us stop judging others and not reacting to the source(s) of anger. It allows us to become more compassionate toward ourselves and others.
The connection between body, mind, and spirit is well-established in the ancient Chinese medical philosophy. Chinese medicine treatment for anger and other emotional disorders is not new, not uncommon and has been proven effective.
Chinese medicine has identified the following common physiological causes of anger:
- Chronic or acute stress leading to stagnation of liver qi (Chinese word for energy pronounced as chi).
- Excessive accumulation of heat.
- Constitutional deficiency of yin that aggravates yang energy.
- Qi and blood stagnation around menstrual period.
- Natural decline due to aging leading to yin deficiency, often accompanied by heat or liver yang rising.
- Long term illness or treatment procedures such as chemo/radiation therapy that deplete the yin, blood, body fluid, and qi leading to increased heat and volatile yang.
- Dietary and lifestyle habits such as the excessive consumption of spicy foods, excessive salt intake, chronic smoking, alcohol consumption, and lack of exercise -- all of which can lead to yin depletion, accumulation of heat, excessive liver yang, and qi stagnation.
Chinese medicine treats anger primarily with acupuncture and Chinese herbal therapy. Both acupuncture and herbs have equally important roles in this treatment and are used together to achieve the maximum effectiveness.
Acupuncture has the functions to open the energy system with emphasis on the liver, gallbladder, and heart channels, help energy to free flow and disperse blockages, drain excess heat from the body, and to ground energy. In the treatment for anger, acupuncture regulates the energy system in two essentially important ways: 1) break up blockages and assist energy flow, 2) drain excess heat.
1. Break up blockages and assist energy flow.
People with chronic anger tend to have a lot of energy blockages, in Chinese medicine we call it liver qi stagnation. Liver is the frontline organ to be impacted by stress whether physical, emotional, or mental. The accumulation of any form of stress causes congestions in the energy system, inhibits and stagnates the movement of energy, and eventually the built-up pressure of constricted energy explodes in anger or rages. In order to control anger, the energy system must be regulated to a normal level of functioning and thank goodness we have acupuncture for this. Acupuncture is a super regulator of energy. There are specific points in the body where we apply acupuncture to open the meridians, facilitate energy flow and rebalance the energy system. The major channels to be treated are liver, gallbladder, and heart. By this application, congestions in the body disperse and the volatile energy is quickly subdued.
2. Drain excess heat.
Excessive body heat is always present in all anger cases. Think about water which boils only when heat is present - this same principle applies to our internal environment that when excessive heat is present in the body, it can make "one's blood boil". Therefore, draining heat is critically important to extinguish the fire of anger and acupuncture is a powerful method to achieve this end. There are energetic points in our body that act like exhaust valves. The acupuncture needles are applied to these points to stimulate the opening of "the valves" and through them excess heat and pressure drain out of the body. In this type of application, acupuncture is phenomenal in its effectiveness and quick acting ability, making it an indispensable modality of treatment for anger.
Herbal therapy has the functions to further drain excess heat from the body, facilitate energy flow and unblock pent-up energies. More importantly, herbs are used to anchor and ground the volatile energy. To achieve this effect, we use nourishing herbs which have the ability to nourish the yin and qi of the body, stabilize the foundation of the energy system, and especially to soothe the edges and pacify volatilities. The grounding and softening effects of nourishing herbs are the controlling forces that subdue anger. Further, nourishing herbs replenish the vital qi that is often depleted in cases of chronic anger. For this reason, people commonly experience a heightened sense of well-being and better functionality. Nourishing herbs are both effective and gentle, therefore they are safe for long term consumption without adverse side effects.
When undergoing Chinese medicine treatment for anger, a person will find that one reacts much less to people or situations. The usual hair-trigger reactions before treatment is replaced by a detached observation. Our patients reported that they do not feel provoked - what other people say or do tend to glide off as if they have a Teflon surface. They also experienced a unique sense of detachment, the ability to mentally observe a situation or provocation without an emotional or physical response.
- Proper acknowledgement: First, recognize that anger is a health condition and treatable. This recognition allows you to be an objective observer especially of another person's condition. Also this makes it easier for you to not take their anger personally.
- Get acupuncture treatment: Next, find an acupuncture clinic to begin treatment immediately. A person can experience relief as early as the first week of treatment.
- Exercise: Get into a good, consistent workout regimen to release the stress energies. Exercise at least three days a week. Even just a thirty minute walk can help tremendously to move one's energy.
- Meditate: Daily meditation has a strong grounding effect on the energy system and calms agitations. Meditation is really a simple thing to do and when you stay with it for a period of time, you will experience the benefits.
- Reduce meat consumption: Meat can strongly stimulate the aggressive tendencies in our energy system. So for someone who has a big problem with anger, it is best to eliminate meat from the diet, or at least significantly reduce the consumption especially red meat of all kinds. If one must have animal flesh in the diet, choose chicken or fish.
- Reduce consumption of hot foods: Many foods are hot in nature such as chili peppers, culinary spices and will produce a lot of heat when they enter the body. Heat provokes anger, therefore eliminate spicy foods. Eat more cooling foods such as fruits and vegetables.
- Eliminate alcohol consumption: Alcohol increases aggression. Avoid alcohol completely if one has out-of-control anger.
- Get counseling: It is very beneficial to have counseling as part of the anger management program. Although counseling by itself is not sufficient to control anger, it works well in conjunction with acupuncture and herbal treatment to produce effective healing.