How TCM Can Help Your Love Life Flourish (Hint: It Starts with You!)
Today I’m going to tell you about a little-known facet of how TCM can help you live your best life. It’s about love!
TCM can help you understand the actual root of relationship challenges and marriage issues. I’ve witnessed many couples achieve emotional freedom and happier lives all because of a Qi tune-up.
Here’s how TCM can help you with your love life.
If you are healthy and vital, then your emotions are balanced and there’s no need for outbursts. But if you are suffering and exhausted, then everything else in life seems harder, including the mundane frictions of your closest relationships. This can create the perfect storm for endless arguments. But you’re not experiencing a true emotional response if you are in physical pain or otherwise energetically imbalanced!
TCM works to stabilize your emotions by calming the mind, regulating sleep, supporting normal digestive functions and reducing stress. The combined effect of all this regulation and rebalancing is to prevent Qi stagnation and improve your quality of life, which helps to keep you clear about yourself, your boundaries and your needs.
Your organs affect your emotions, and vice versa.
This is a core principle of TCM, and it really comes into play when we’re talking about love! Let’s look at a couple of the bodily organs that are most relevant to romance.
The heart organ, in TCM, is related to the element of fire. It directs love, warmth, joy and laughter by allowing these emotions to flourish when its Qi is free-flowing and open. The heart Qi regulates these emotions and helps us to communicate openly, to trust and be vulnerable, and to have satisfying relationships. The Shen (the spirit that our mind houses) is located in the heart chamber and regulates the harmonious flow of the body, mind and spirit.
The pericardium—the membrane that encloses the heart—has a close energetic relationship with the heart, acting as its protector and determining what is allowed to get in and what isn’t. The goal is to let pure love in, and keep harm away. A Qi imbalance within the pericardium can manifest as a personality that is unavailable, unable to trust or let anyone in. This leads to the heart being starved because Qi is not moving freely to nourish it. Instead, it’s malnourished and deficient, causing loneliness and depression because basic intimacy needs are not being met.
On the other hand, if the pericardium is too lax and open, then any energy—good or bad, safe or dangerous—can get in. The imbalance creates confusion and leads to constant sadness about lost love. This is an actual symptom of being heartbroken.
Another love organ, believe it or not, is your liver! Liver Qi is associated with anger, frustration and irritability, which often manifests in persistent stagnation. Acupuncture works to clear stagnant liver Qi, which calms the mind and reduces the heaviness of emotional burdens on your spirit. If liver stagnation persists, it creates a draining effect and leads to constant, and in some cases unexplained, anger.
Food for love means quality, not quantity!
Another aspect of TCM that can boost your love life is dietary therapy according to the Five Element Theory. This, as well of the use of herbs, can help nourish your Qi and blood, and release stuck emotions, too. The quality of your diet has a direct impact on your emotions, and vice versa. When your body is working well, you will naturally feel more calmer and clear, and have the ability to make reasonable decisions with a level head.
In TCM, we view food as medicine and use it to nourish the body, mind and spirit. Instead of looking at food from a quantity perspective and counting calories, TCM defines dietary therapy by the quality of what we eat.
We consider that each food has a specific temperature, flavour and action. It’s important to eat by balancing the five flavours (sweet, salty, sour, acrid, bitter), eating a normal quantity at regular intervals, cooking food properly, and regulating the diet according to the four seasons. (You can learn a bit about seasonal eating here. I’ll write even more about seasonal eating and food functions in a future post!)
Foods that are red in colour and bitter in flavour nourish the heart. They act to warm and nourish blood, improve circulation and strengthen yang Qi. These include beets, cherries, chili, cumin, dates, radishes, red apples, red beans, rhubarb, saffron, strawberries and tomatoes. Additionally, other common bitter quality foods include asparagus, brown rice, collard greens, celery, chia seeds, cucumber, lemons, lettuce, mushrooms, oats, parsley, sesame seeds, vinegar and whole wheat. Bitter flavour qualities act to clear and purge, dry dampness, consolidate yin and calm the Shen; they have a descending movement, and release fullness and distension in the chest.
In general, for happy Qi, it’s considered healthy practice to eat without distractions (like watching TV or sitting at a computer) in order to avoid unnecessary stimulus that weighs down the spleen Qi. When you eat, just eat! Also, avoid the following things:
raw, uncooked and cold foods and iced drinks
oily, greasy and fried foods
refined sugar and overly sweet foods
excessive alcohol, coffee and meat consumption.
There’s one more organ to consider when it comes to eating for love: the spleen!
The spleen Qi maintains normal function by properly digesting food and helping you absorb their nutrients. If the spleen Qi is weak from too much worrying and overthinking, it will not be able to transform those nutrients into clear Qi for the mind and spirit, and will have a harder time supporting normal brain function. Eventually, this imbalance can also cause specific, negative digestive imbalances. For example, sudden heartburn is a result of rebellious Qi from excess fire that occurs from explosive anger, not acidic foods!
Proper nutrition also supports regular spleen Qi flow to aid in supporting your emotional boundaries so you have the strength to stand up for yourself in dealing with challenging personalities. Spleen Qi-friendly foods are sweet in nature, but not too sweet. They work to supplement, tonify and moisten; they have a lifting action and relieve dryness. Foods that support your spleen Qi include apples, apricots, beef, broth soups, brown rice, cabbage, carrots, chicken, cooked and fermented vegetables, dates, eggs, figs, fish, garlic, ginger, grapes, mango, papaya, pumpkin, sweet potato, yams and walnuts.
If your body is receiving an adequate amount of nutrients without Qi dysfunction or stagnation, then any negative emotions and stress you are experiencing will do less overall harm. TCM helps all organ systems to run more smoothly.
The mind-body connection can help you unlock a happier love life.
TCM uses many tools to investigate each person’s constitution and emotional predispositions. In TCM, negative emotions are connected to disease and ailments; we don’t see emotions as separate from the body. They’re all interrelated. By learning why you react to certain issues, it becomes easier to identify negative emotional patterns and work to adjust them, which helps improve your bodily health. And in tandem, as you take better care of your physical health, you’ll be able to better regulate your emotional world.
As well, by using specific acupuncture points to create a relaxation response, TCM encourages the production of mood-elevating hormones (serotonin, dopamine and oxytocin) which ease overall anxiety. Regular treatment stimulates the parasympathetic system, facilitating the smooth flow of Qi and blood to the brain. This allows you to have a more peaceful and present response to emotional triggers. Result? A smoother romantic relationship, where you can truly listen to your partner and ask the same in return without accusation or resentment.
The mind-body connection is a gift that can help us better understand ourselves holistically. Using the principles of TCM to regulate the flow of Qi allows for not only a healthier body, but a more balanced and happier soul... and a happy, harmonious love life!