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Did you know that in most ancient healing traditions, different emotions were associated with different organs or different body systems?
The Ancients thought emotions had organ correspondence. In our Western medical tradition, this belief system is mostly unacknowledged and certainly not utilized. Admittedly it can seem kind of wacky, but the Fiery Maple Philosophy incorporates this belief system. We’re believers!
Let’s pretend you, a friend, or maybe a family member is always angry…can you guess which organ angry outbursts would be associated with?
Did you guess the liver?
If you did; you’d be right.
The liver needs extra support when we’re angry.
In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), they believe, the heart and the stomach need additional support as well. But that the liver is the primary organ associated with anger.
Let’s say you’re not necessarily a believer in emotions and organ/body systems correspondence. No problem. How about we consider this from more of a “scientific” perspective. What typically happens when you’re angry? Your heart rate goes up, your nervous systems on high alert, and you slip into flight or fight response because you’re angry. This is a human adaptive response from eons ago. Think about the root of most angry outbursts, most dustups can be distilled down to some sort of boundary violation. And when a boundary of ours or someone we loves is crossed what are we going to do. We’re going to defend our boundary (fight) or run (flight). That is what our body is preparing to do when we get angry. Our digestive system goes in shutdown mode, our heartbeat goes up, revving up our circulation, making sure our extremities are well nourished so we can use them to run or fight. So, from a scientific perspective, it makes sense that our liver would need to be supported if we’re angry because the liver is responsible for processing our stress hormones and any toxins and poisons. And of course, anything in excess is a poison. If you have an excess of stress hormones because you are angry, then your liver needs help clearing that out.
What Herbs Support the Liver?
Well, of course, bitters. In herbalism, bitters are a class of herbs that have a bitter taste and simulate your digestive system, among other uses like providing detoxification. In other cultures, eating bitter food and greens is much more common than in America. We don’t really eat bitter here, we eat mostly gravitate toward salt and sweet with a dash of sour. Though we are getting much better at eating spicy foods.
Most all of us need to eat more bitters, and bitters support the liver. They do that by, aiding digestion, and supporting the liver by removing toxins and poisons. Two of the most common ones are dandelion root and burdock root. I recommend dandelion because you can easily get find it in tea bags at any local grocery store. I mostly use loose leaf, but tea bags are great, quick and easy. Dandelion is an herb that most herbalists keep on hand due to its variety of use and safety profile.
None of the bitters are going to taste the best. They’re bitters after all!
But they will help you. Most bitters are taken from the root of the plant so they will also help ground you, a common trait of root medicine. They will bring you back to center, while supporting your liver and clearing out those stress hormones.
Now, if you’re an essential oil person, which I consider part of the herbal apothecary because most of them are derived from herbs; please consider lavender. Most people who use oils have lavender on hand. Lavender’s a great one. You can put a drop of it on the bottom of your foot before you go to bed (please always use a carrier oil) especially if you’re angry and you just need to go to bed. Lavender is very soothing, and will facilitate restful sleep, even if you are angry. Lavender tea is also helpful. A lot of people don’t realize, lavender, is edible and makes a great tea. If you have lavender, you can make it into a tea yourself. Lavender is a very soothing tea that is gentle, soothing and can be used by the elderly and children.
Remember, in Chinese medicine, you also need to support your heart when you’re angry and irritable.
Motherwort is a great herb, that is very nurturing and helpful to the heart. It’s considered a women’s herb. However, it is a uterine stimulant, so if you’re pregnant, you should avoid using Motherwort for anger management. But the Queen of Heart herbs, hawthorn is a wonderful option to consider. Hawthorn is an all-around soothing, beautiful plant. It’s very supportive, especially if you’re angry. My grandma took hawthorn daily for more than 20 years. She used hawthorn instead of pharmaceuticals for her congestive heart failure. I advise caution if you have congestive heart failure or some sort of heart disease and are on heart medication since hawthorn is a powerful herb that they can be used as a replacement for heart medication. It could be unwise to take heart medication and hawthorn daily. Having a cup of hawthorn tea on occasion is fine. But to take it, two to three times a day for an ongoing for anger condition, while on heart medication is not advised.
Lastly, chamomile must be mentioned it’s gentle, and children can have it as well. It’s soothing and calming to the nervous system, and helpful to the digestive system, which we know goes into shut down mode when we’re angry.
There are many more herbs that can be helpful to the liver, nervous system, and heart after an angry outburst and many herbs that can help regulate our system, so we are less prone to such outbursts.
If your anger condition is chronic, and you’re always riled up about something – yikes. Then you probably should go more upstream than just herbs and consider lifestyle adjustment/coaching/therapy/spiritual work.