Traditional Chinese Medicine comes to mind when I think about the upcoming holiday. During Thanksgiving, what could be better than celebrating all of life’s blessings, surrounded by an abundance of food, friends, and family? While I try to make a practice of being grateful daily for my blessings, I, for sure, am looking forward to that special time to express gratitude with my people. Traditional Chinese Medicine relates to gratitude. While we often consider the 5 “negative” emotions in Traditional Chinese Medicine, in considering a person’s state of health, gratitude isn’t something that I’ve seen referenced in the literature. The 5 “negative” emotions are emphasized: joy, fear, grief, worry and anger. Yes, joy, in Traditional Chinese Medicine this indicates not the regular daily joys, such as seeing the sun shine, but an overexuberance or a manic type of joy. These 5 “negative” emotions are all normal human emotions and are only considered “negative” when in excess, when they become so overwhelming, that they overpower or control a person, then they are seen to cause damage to the internal organs and lead to disease. In Western medicine, emotional states contributing to physical illness in the body is a concept that has only more recently been elucidated in the research and embraced. For example, research on Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACES) dictates that the more traumatic experience in childhood, the greater the risk of not only mental health challenges like depression and higher risk behaviors, but of physical illnesses such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, ischemic heart disease, liver disease and fetal death in pregnant women. While in Traditional Chinese Medicine literature the concept of gratitude isn’t necessarily spelled out as the opposite of gratitude, ingratitude, which might manifest as self-absorption, entitlement, jealously, and resentment are considered. A colleague of mine summed up this idea of ingratitude as “wanting things to be other than how they are”. We all have moments of this and not for nothing, it’s normal when a course change is needed in life and to have hopes and desires for a brighter future. However, it is important to enjoy all the good things in life too. This feeling of frustration or unsettledness is related to liver qi stagnation in TCM and considered to be the most common pattern of imbalance leading to disease, I certainly see this to be true clinically. While life frustrations are sure to keep on coming, we can open ourselves to regular appreciation, gratitude, and compassion, which all relax the mind and allow qi to flow more smoothly in the body. So, on this day, I want to express my heartfelt gratitude to you, my patients for allowing me nine months in my new solo practice. You are the Collective in Collective Health Center. Thank you for trusting me to be a partner on your health journey. References https://www.cdc.gov/violenceprevention/acestudy/about.html http://acupunctureincambridge.com/2009/11/25/gratitude/

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