The Ups and Downs of Anger

As a society in general, we are often uncomfortable with displays of anger and feel it is an emotion we “shouldn’t” feel or discuss. There is a common sense of “I must be a bad person if I feel angry” and so choose to ignore it. Anger that is unexpressed can become harmful as it turns into resentment and is in a sense “buried” within the body. Over time, this anger and resentment accumulates, “eating away at us”, and can be linked to the development of chronic diseases or conditions such as high blood pressure, heart disease, chronic pain, cancer, depression, and addictive behaviours.

Many of us believe that feeling angry somehow makes us a “bad” person. Yet anger has many positives. It tells us when our boundaries have been crossed. It calls us to make a change and can motivate us to take action and help us get out of negative situations.

How do we voice our anger in a constructive, healthy, nonviolent manner? Work towards expressing your feelings before letting them “explode” and share your needs with others. Journaling or using art as a means of expression can also be useful. Establishing appropriate boundaries in your relationships and eliminating toxic or abusive people from your life is also critical. And most importantly, listen to the wisdom of your anger, it may be calling you to make an important change in your life.

How can naturopathic medicine address anger? In Traditional Chinese Medicine, the “Liver” is the organ paired with anger and is a frequent area of treatment for anger and stress. Supportive “Liver” treatments might include things like:

  • Talking about your feelings with a supportive person (ND, therapist, close family member, etc.)
  • Eliminating alcohol, drugs, tobacco
  • Eliminating greasy, fried, and creamy foods
  • Drinking a supportive liver tea such as dandelion or milk thistle tea
  • Eating more bitter and sour tasting foods (like dark leafy greens, lemon water, apple cider vinegar, etc.)
  • Daily physical activity
  • Daily deep breathing
  • Acupuncture

Interested to learn more? Some great resources include (in order of relevance): The Biology of Belief by Bruce Lipton & Honour your Anger by Beverley Engel