Welcome to part two of the Common Acupuncture Terms series. This time, we’ll take a look at what your acupuncturist really means when they talk about your Liver, your Kidney or your Stomach!
The Organs in TCM
The organs in TCM are referred to as Zang-Fu. However, these organs are not so much about the physical, anatomical structures, but rather a collection of functions linked to their Western counterparts. While there is some crossover, when an acupuncturist talks about an organ like Lung or Heart, they are referring to the various processes and systems to do with breathing, circulation etc.
There are twelve Zang-Fu organs which are considered as paired Yin/Yang counterparts. The Zang organs are more Yin, and are the ones responsible for producing, storing and regulating Qi, Blood and fluids in the body. The Fu organs are more Yang, and are associated more with transportation and waste management.
Here’s a quick run down of the organ pairs…
Lung and Large Intestine
- The Lungs govern breathing and Qi production from the air, and are associated with the skin and linked emotionally to grief.
- The Large Intestine pairs with the Lungs, and receives and eliminates waste and absorbs any remaining fluids from digestion. Its mental aspect is to do with the ability to let go.
Spleen and Stomach
- The Spleen is all about digestion, and manages Qi production from food and sends it out to the body. It controls the muscles and limbs, and is linked emotionally to overthinking or obsessiveness.
- The Stomach works hand in hand with the Spleen to break down food and drink for processing before the remainder is sent off for disposal. Mentally, the Stomach supports the Spleen with issues of concentration
Heart and Small Intestine
- The Heart is the resting place of the Spirit, or the mental part of us. It also has a relationship with blood, blood vessels and circulation. Emotionally, it controls joy.
- The Small Intestine ties in with the Heart and further refines the digestive process, and separates the “pure” from the “impure”, both physically and mentally.
Pericardium and Triple Burner
- The Pericardium is also known as the Heart Protector, and supports the Heart processes.
- The Triple Burner (or often referred to as San Jiao) pairs with the Pericardium, but has no anatomical equivalent. Rather, it encompasses three sections of the torso – Upper, Middle and Lower. It is considered to help with fluid metabolism and to support the other organs.
Kidney and Bladder
- The Kidneys oversee our development from birth to old age. Physically the Kidneys produce marrow, support bones and regulate our water metabolisms. Emotions associated with the Kidneys are Fear and Willpower.
- The Bladder pairs with the Kidney, and its primary function is to store and discharge urine.
Liver and Gallbladder
- The Liver ensures that qi can flow freely through the meridians. It also stores Blood and maintains the tendons. The emotions associated with the Liver are anger and frustration.
- The Gallbladder pairs with the Liver, and controls bile production and supports the sinews. Mentally, it is associated with decision-making.
Stay tuned for Part 3, when we take closer look at some the factors affecting health in Chinese Medicine.