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Supporting Uncomfortable Emotions During Detox

By Jodi Cohen

A woman with light brown hair applies a liquid from a small blue bottle to her wrist. She is wearing a light purple top and standing in front of a rustic brick wall.

Detoxification – or the intentional mobilization and elimination of toxins – can stir up uncomfortable physical and emotional symptoms, including irritability.  

As toxins are mobilized and released you may feel worse before you feel better. As you release deep intercellular toxins, you may also release old emotional toxins.  As a result, intense emotions may surface as the toxins gently flow out of storage in the cells and through your body. 

But you don’t need to suffer.

Essential oils may help relieve emotional symptoms of anger, irritability and … fear, stress, sadness, loneliness, and anxiety.

When you start a detox, toxins stored in fat cells and other tissues begin to be released into the bloodstream. This is an essential step in eliminating them from your body. However, this release can temporarily increase the concentration of toxins, leading to physical symptoms like headaches, fatigue, or nausea along with emotional symptoms like irritability.

What’s more, your liver is the main organ of detoxification and is associated with anger, irritability, resentment, and rage. As the body cleanses and clears away old toxic debris, the liver can be taxed, making you more susceptible to irritability.

In fact, the health of your liver is actually fundamental to how you experience and react to emotions.

You see, your liver is a filter that processes, neutralizes and eliminates both physical and emotional toxins.  Energetically, your liver is responsible for maintaining harmony and the smooth movement of energy (known as chi) throughout the body, including the smooth transition between feelings and emotions as situations change around us. This liver energy supports your drive, planning, endurance, perseverance, quick, clear intellect, ambition, patience, and organizational abilities.

When your liver energy is balanced, you probably feel kind, benevolent, compassionate, and generous.   When your liver is physically or energetically congested or stagnant, you might experience intense feelings of angry outbursts, irritability, resentment, frustration, rage, impatience, jealousy, or even depression. In fact, in traditional Chinese medicine, anger is correlated with poor liver function.

When physical toxins build up or are continuously recycled because they are reabsorbed and not eliminated, the liver has less energy and vitality to process and release emotional toxins. At these times you may have a more difficult time controlling or letting go of your angry feelings.

Frustration, rage, and anger tend to build up when toxins build up. Your liver shares a common bile duct with your gallbladder.  These bile ducts can get congested and clogged up which diminishes your liver’s ability to remove toxic substances from the body. The buildup of poisons can lead to changes in the brain that impact your mood and your need for control.

When you embark on a physical detoxification of the liver, it is common to experience the release of anger and rage as well.  When the liver has more bandwidth, it is able to process and release both toxic chemicals and toxic emotions that may have accumulated in your body. Often the more physical toxins a person releases, the more stored emotion that is also released.

Stagnation sets the stage for both physical and emotional toxins to build up and contribute to anger or rage. Any stagnation, congestion, or compromise in the healthy function of your liver allows toxic chemicals to build up and accumulate in your body.   For example, intense feelings that we do not process or release, like intense unexpressed or repressed anger, fear, or grief, can also build up in our system.

These “emotional toxins” might present as:

  • Feeling irritable or impatient
  • Inappropriate anger, including angry outbursts
  • Over-reactivity, flying off the handle, or having a difficult time letting things go
  • Feelings of not feeling heard, not feeling loved, not being recognized, or an inability to be honest with yourself and others
  • Experience of resentment, frustration, or bitterness
  • Being judgmental, overly critical, finding fault, or complaining
  • Feeling the need to control situations; being domineering or bossy

Suppressing emotions might work for a short period of time.   But at a certain point, these repressed emotions begin to boil over in a way that we often cannot control them.   A good example is morning sickness.  Your body literally vomits out toxins so they do not get passed to the fetus.  The more you physically detoxify your body before pregnancy, the less likely you are to suffer from morning sickness.

When your body detoxifies, it eliminates toxins by moving them out of your cells, into your blood, through your liver, and into your bile, which then carries toxins into the gut for elimination in your stool.  As long as toxins flow in the right direction, they can be eliminated.

If there is a block in detoxification pathways, like a clogged bile duct, the fluids carrying the toxins out of your body are not able to flow out of your liver into your intestines for elimination.  When detoxification pathways are blocked, toxins are forced to flow back into your bloodstream and either need to be eliminated through other detoxification pathways – your skin and your kidneys or linger in the blood.

When bile-carrying toxins flow in the wrong direction into the blood, even in small amounts, it creates irritation, anger, and frustration. So that is what when we refer to a bilious nature, a person who has overflowing bile.

Similarly, when the liver or bile ducts are clogged, nutrients are not passed to the cells in the body in sufficient quantities, depriving your cells of nourishment.  When there is not enough glucose or oxygen or other nutrients made available to these cells, the cells become frustrated angry. This can further suppress and diminish some of the healthy function of the body.

Essential oils can be powerful tools to help allow you to work through your emotions and release anger and irritability. Your sense of smell links directly to the emotional control center of your brain known as the amygdala, where emotions and emotional memories are stored.

Your sense of smell is the only one of your five senses that is directly links to this unconscious area of your brain, known as your limbic lobe, making the sense of smell and the tool of essential oils the most direct path to healing emotions like blame, shame, and guilt.

Essential oils inhaled through the nasal passageways enable immediate access to the regions of the brain that house these intense emotions like anger and rage so we can integrate and release them. The word “emotion” can be translated as “energy in motion.” Emotion is the experience of energy moving through our bodies. This emotional energy actually works at a higher speed than thought and essential oils can help us clear the energetic residue of blame so it doesn’t remain in our thought patterns, negatively impacting our energy field or our health.

Anger that we don’t process and release can get stored in your liver, according to Chinese medicine.  I believe anger can be the most intense and the most damaging of all the repressed emotions, because of its intensity.  The more we try to suppress it, the more it rears its ugly head in ways that can undermine our health, our growth and our personal relationships.

Energetically, your liver is responsible for maintaining harmony and the smooth movement of energy (known as chi) throughout the body, including the smooth transition between feelings and emotions as situations change around us. This liver energy supports your drive, planning, endurance, perseverance, quick, clear intellect, ambition, patience, and organizational abilities.

When your liver energy is balanced, you probably feel kind, benevolent, compassionate and generous.   When your liver is physically or energetically congested or stagnant, you might experience intense feelings of angry outbursts, irritability, resentment, frustration, rage, impatience, jealousy, or even depression.

You might also feel the need to control both yourself and others which might present an attachment to strong opinions, or being power-hungry or over-ambitious. Basically, you seek power so that nobody has power over you.  Control dynamics also play out as blame, shame and guilt.

Your liver energy works in conjunction with your gallbladder energy.  If gallbladder energy is stuck, it can back up into the liver causing energetic congestion which manifests as rage, anger, or frustration.

Liver Support™ helps support the release of anger, including frequent irritation, impatience, resentment or frustration, being critical of yourself or others, control issues, an inability to express your feelings, feelings of not feeling heard, not feeling loved, not being recognized or appreciated.

Formulated to help move through and release anger and negative emotions attached to traumatic experiences from the cells of the liver to promote optimal healing.  The oils in this blend assist the body to recognize, work through, and release the anger, fear, or frustration caused by traumatic experiences so they don’t overwhelm you.

It allows you to gently let go of negative emotions, including repressed anger, which can create stuck energy and impede an organ’s ability to heal.

Just place the bottle under your nose and breathe deeply, fully inhaling the oil for 3 – 7 breaths.  It helps you breathe into and work through the emotion.  You can also apply it around the ankles as this is often an area where we hold resistance to moving forward in life and block the ability to receive joy and pleasure.  Start at the back of the ankle and apply under the ankle bone around to the front and back under the other ankle bone, all while allowing yourself to release challenging emotions. For more tips on detoxify emotions, read this article.

About The Author

Jodi Cohen

Jodi Sternoff Cohen is the founder of Vibrant Blue Oils. An author, speaker, nutritional therapist, and a leading international authority on essential oils, Jodi has helped over 50,000 individuals support their health with essential oils.