The Seven passions in Relation to Erectile Dysfunction

Dr Sharyn Allyson LAc DAOM

How we respond to the external stimuli of the world manifests as the seven passions in Chinese medicine. When there is a prolonged or extreme experience of the emotions joy, anger, worry, melancholy, grief, fear and fright they can affect internal organs and disease may result. Each emotion can have a direct effect on the relative organ: anger affects the Liver, joy may effect the Heart, grief can injure the Lungs, and the Kidneys are effected by fear and fright.13

Jing, or essence, is related to the Kidney yin and blood, and can be damaged when one of the seven passions becomes extreme and transforms into fire, burning away jing. Anger is the most common of the passions to transform into evil heat and as anger is related to the Liver, it will readily exhaust blood and hinder the Liver’s ability to store the blood. Therefore anger may inhibit the blood flow or obstruct the flow of qi to the penis.

Sudden fright affects the Heart, while the Kidney’s are affected by long-term fear. When the Heart is affected the spirit can not provide the stability and nourishment to the other organs, nor the penis.13 In the event of Kidney deficiency, the Kidney qi becomes erratic and unable to hold the integrity of the Kidney yin area of the genitals, making the ability to achieve and maintain an erection difficult.13

Fear descends qi when it should be free-flowing, and can damage the Kidney qi specifically, resulting in the inability to access the sexual essence needed to form an erection.

The ministerial fire is controlled by the Heart, which houses the spirit and the sovereign fire. The Spleen, meanwhile, is perplexed by preoccupation and anxiety. It is the Spleen’s responsibility to transform post-heaven sources into qi and blood. When a man is consumed with worries, his Spleen will fail to provide enough qi and blood, which will unsettle his spirit13. The longing for sexual gratification, or experiencing dreams with emission, also weaken the Heart’s sovereign fire. As the penis is the meeting place of 100 sinews, if the Spleen and Heart are weakened, the sinews will be undernourished and cause the yang to wilt.13

While excessive emotions are damaging to yang, so to is the repression of emotions. If men do not express their emotions, and/or are not satisfied with their life, and/or hold long term grudges, they will have depressed liver qi.13 This upsets the natural function of the Liver qi to move freely through the body. A main function of qi is to work as the motive force within the blood, and so it is the free movement of qi that enables blood to flow. With the inability of the Liver qi to move as smooth as it ought, blood will not flow to the penis, and an erection will be impeded.13