Suppressed emotions according to Chinese Medicine

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Suppressed emotions can be the consequence of several so-called “patterns of disharmony” in Chinese Medicine.

Chinese Medicine sees the body as a system, not a sum of isolated parts. A "pattern" is when the system's harmony is disrupted, leading to symptoms or signs that something is wrong (like suppressed emotions here). It is similar to the concept of disease in Western Medicine but not quite: a Western disease can often be explained by several Chinese patterns and vice-versa.

A pattern often manifests itself in a combination of symptoms that, at first glance, do not seem necessarily related to each others. For instance here suppressed emotions is often associated with flank pain, stifling sensation in the chest causing one to have deep sighs and feelings of frustration in the pattern “Liver Qi Stagnation”.

Once identified, patterns are treated using medicinal herbs, acupuncture, and other therapies. In the case of suppressed emotions we’ve identified two herbal formulas that may help treat patterns behind the symptom.

We’ve also selected below the five medicinal herbs that we think are most likely to help treat suppressed emotions.

Liver Qi Stagnation, a "pattern of disharmony" that can cause suppressed emotions

In Chinese Medicine suppressed emotions is a symptom for the pattern "Liver Qi Stagnation". Below is a small explanation for it with links for more details.

The Liver is a so-called "Zang" Organ. Learn more about the Liver in Chinese Medicine

Liver Qi Stagnation

Pulse type(s): Wiry (Xian)

Tongue color: Normal (light red)

When Liver Qi does not flow smoothly or regularly, it becomes Stagnant and in Excess. This leads to Heat accumulating in the Liver. The feeling of ‘Distension’ (zhang 胀) is the main symptom of Liver Qi Stagnation.

In addition to suppressed emotions, other symptoms associated with Liver Qi Stagnation include flank pain, stifling sensation in the chest causing one to have deep sighs and feelings of frustration.

From a Western Medicine standpoint Liver Qi Stagnation is associated with health issues such as Low Breast Milk Supply, Mastitis or Breast Engorgement.

Liver Qi Stagnation is often treated with Xiao Yao San, a herbal formula made of 6 herbs (including Bupleurum Roots - Chai Hu - as a key herb). Xiao Yao San belongs to the category of "formulas that harmonize liver-spleen", which might be why it is often recommended for this pattern. Its main action as a formula is: "Harmonizes the function of Liver and Spleen".

Read more about Liver Qi Stagnation here

Two herbal formulas that might help with suppressed emotions

Jia Wei Xiao Yao San

Source date: Ming dynasty

Number of ingredients: 10 herbs

Key actions: Clears Liver and Spleen Qi Stagnation. Tonifies Spleen. Clears Deficient Heat. Nourishes the blood.

Why might Jia Wei Xiao Yao San help with suppressed emotions?

Because it is a formula often recommended to treat the pattern 'Liver Qi Stagnation' of which suppressed emotions is a symptom.

Other symptoms characteristic of Liver Qi Stagnation include flank pain, stifling sensation in the chest causing one to have deep sighs and feelings of frustration.

Read more about Jia Wei Xiao Yao San here

Xiao Yao San

Source date: 1107 AD

Number of ingredients: 6 herbs

Key actions: Harmonizes the function of Liver and Spleen. Relieves Liver Qi stagnation. Nourishes the Blood.

Why might Xiao Yao San help with suppressed emotions?

Because it is a formula often recommended to treat the pattern 'Liver Qi Stagnation' of which suppressed emotions is a symptom.

Other symptoms characteristic of Liver Qi Stagnation include flank pain, stifling sensation in the chest causing one to have deep sighs and feelings of frustration.

Read more about Xiao Yao San here

The five Chinese Medicinal herbs most likely to help treat suppressed emotions

Why might White Peony Root (Bai Shao) help with suppressed emotions?

Because White Peony Root is an ingredient in several formulas indicated to treat suppressed emotions as a symptom, like Jia Wei Xiao Yao San or Xiao Yao San for instance.

White Peony Roots is a Neutral herb that tastes Bitter and Sour. It targets the Spleen and the Liver.

Its main actions are: Tonifies the Blood and preserves the Yin. Nourishes the Liver and assists in the smooth flow of Qi. Regulates the meridians and eases the pain.

Read more about White Peony Roots here

Why might Atractylodes Rhizome (Bai Zhu) help with suppressed emotions?

Because Atractylodes Rhizome is an ingredient in several formulas indicated to treat suppressed emotions as a symptom, like Yue Ju Wan or Xiao Yao San for instance.

Atractylodes Rhizomes is a Warm herb that tastes Bitter and Sweet. It targets the Spleen and the Stomach.

Its main actions are: Tonifies the Spleen Qi. Fortifies the Spleen Yang and dispels Damp through urination. Tonifies Qi and stops sweating. Calms restless fetus when due to Deficiency of Spleen Qi.

Read more about Atractylodes Rhizomes here

Why might Szechuan Lovage Root (Chuan Xiong) help with suppressed emotions?

Because Szechuan Lovage Root is an ingredient in several formulas indicated to treat suppressed emotions as a symptom, like Yue Ju Wan or Chai Hu Shu Gan San for instance.

Szechuan Lovage Roots is a Warm herb that tastes Pungent. It targets the Gallbladder, the Liver and the Pericardium.

Its main actions are: Regulates and moves the Blood. Relieves Wind-Cold and pain. Circulates the Qi in the Upper Burner, relieving headaches.

Read more about Szechuan Lovage Roots here

Why might Cape Jasmine Fruit (Zhi Zi) help with suppressed emotions?

Because Cape Jasmine Fruit is an ingredient in several formulas indicated to treat suppressed emotions as a symptom, like Yue Ju Wan or Jia Wei Xiao Yao San for instance.

Cape Jasmine Fruits is a Cold herb that tastes Bitter. It targets the Gallbladder, the Heart, the Lung and the Sanjiao.

Its main actions are: Clears Heat and calms spirit. Drains Damp-Heat affecting the Liver and Gallbladder. Clears Heat in the Blood and stops bleeding. Anti-inflammatory.

Read more about Cape Jasmine Fruits here

Why might Dong Quai (Dang Gui) help with suppressed emotions?

Because Dong Quai is an ingredient in several formulas indicated to treat suppressed emotions as a symptom, like Xiao Yao San or Jia Wei Xiao Yao San for instance.

Dong Quai is a Warm herb that tastes Pungent and Sweet. It targets the Spleen, the Heart and the Liver.

Its main actions are: Tonifies the Blood. Lubricates the Intestines. Relieve constipation. Promotes circulation and dispels Bi Pain. Reduce Dysmenorrhea and help with irregular menstruation.

Read more about Dong Quai here