Grief: An Acupuncture & Naturopathic Perspective

Can Acupuncture Treatment Heal a Broken Heart?


Joe Paterno died today.

I don’t want to be seen as judging the merits of the end of his career at all so I’ll just use a quote from : “Joe Paterno, whose tenure as the most successful coach in major college football history ended abruptly in November amid allegations that he failed to respond forcefully enough to a sex abuse scandal involving a former assistant, died Sunday, his family said. He was 85″.

A recent study in the journal Circulation found that the risk of heart attack increase 21 times in the 24 hour period after the loss of a loved one.

The phenonom of grief causing physical illness is not a new discovery, yet the mechanics of how it happens remains a mystery to modern medicine.  Luckily it was not a mystery to practitioners of Chinese Medicine thousands of years ago.

Acupuncture Heals the Emotional Body as Well as the Physical Body

Practitioners of Acupuncture understand that each of the famous meridians that make up the Acupuncture anatomy of the body is responsible for a different emotional state.  The processing of that emotion is the responsiblity of that meridian.  When that emotion becomes more than the meridian can handle, that meridian can start having problems; manifesting in both emotional and physical symptoms.

The meridian associated with the emotion of Grief is the Lung Meridian.  The Lung Meridian is central to our health.  In Acupuncture theory, the Lung is responsible for taking the Qi (“chee”) or Vital Energy from the atmosphere and bringing it into the body.  Moreover, it is said the Lungs command the Qi and that all the other meridians are dependent on the Lungs to do their respective jobs of transporting and utilizing the Qi throughout the body.

The Lung meridian is also the aspect of the body most closely associated with the Western Concept of the Immune System.  Often, inftectious illnesses are first seen in symptoms associated with the Lung Meridian; cough, runny nose, etc.  It is both our sustaining system and self-protective system.

This being the case, from an Acupuncture perspective, we see how people who are burdened with Grief can suffer from more frequent colds, flus and more serious immune challenges.

Using Acupuncture and Naturopathic diagnostic techniques one can determine if a person’s health issues are coming from the Lung Meridian and possibly have their roots in a deeply experienced Grief.  It was well known amongst the early German Homeopaths that freqeunt sighing seen in a patient was a sign of supressed grief.  Here we see a physical manifestation of Lung issues; sighing, associated with Grief from a completely different medical culture.

The point of all this, is that if the origin of a person’s particular illness happens to stem from Grief, then unless that Grief is addressed, the imbalance that’s causing their illness will remain. Attempts to help them by other means may be incomplete at best and futile at worst.

But using Acupuncture and Naturopathic medicine we can actually help the body process that Grief – move-it-through so that it becomes less toxic and less of an overwhelming energy in the body.  This is not psychotherapy, this is medical treatment that honors the fact that emotions are a real energy in the body and need to be addressed.  The patient may have no awareness that their Grief is being treated. They will often feel inexplicably lighter or they may even sometimes have an outpouring of tears as old Grief leaves the body.  Regardless, they will move towards balance and the health of the Lung Meridian, this vital, fundamental determiner of health can be restored.

I’ll close with another quote from the same article on the demise of Joe Paterno:

“The longtime Penn State head coach was diagnosed with what his family had called a treatable form of lung cancer shortly after the university’s Board of Trustees voted to fire him.”

imfl-conversations-accupuncture_treatmentWhat are your feelings about Joe Paterno? Was he treated fairly by Penn State? Did you realize acupuncture treatment can help emotional distress?



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