The Meridians (Channels) in Traditional Chinese Medicine and the Role of the Ying and Yang Organs
When we think about energy, we tend to think in terms of energetic flow. Our houses are wired by copper electrical wires and the acupuncture needle is fitted with either a copper or gold wire on the top, which hopefully helps you to see the connection.
Just like our houses our bodies are also wired, but not by electrical wiring, although a sort of electrical wiring is present in the sense of our nervous system, but rather here we are speaking about the meridians (otherwise known as channels) which run their way along the length and breadth of our bodies. It is these meridians which transport the qi energy, now subdivided into active or nurturing energy, and thus help us to do and be all that we need to be in our daily lives.
So let’s take a quick overview of this principle in action:
Our bodies are run on Qi energy and this energy runs not only our bodies, but also it runs our minds, our feelings and even our spiritual aspirations. This energy is transported along energetic channels which run throughout our bodies and each channel has both yang (active) as well as ying (nurturing) energetic flows. While similar to electrical energy, meridians are not electrical rather they are a subtle energetic flow, which is modulated.
So what modulates the energy?
The energy is modulated on both a micro and macro level.
On the macro level the energy is modulated by the organs of the body and on a micro level it is modulate by the puncture points.
In Chinese medicine the TCM practitioner adjusts these macro and micro energy modulators via acupouncture/acupressure, herbs and lifestyle treatment.
Ying and Yang Organs: This flow of energy is modulated through various centres in the body, which are labelled by Chinese medicine as ‘zang Fu’ and can be further sub divided into yang and yang organs.
|Ying (Interior) Organs||Yang (Exterior) Organs|
Let’s take a look at how the zang fu control the activities in our bodies from the perspective of Chinese medicine.
Ying and Yang Organ Functions
|Liver||Stores blood, moves Qi, controls the sinews, manifests in the nails, opens into the eyes and houses the ethereal soul|
|Gall Bladder||Stores and excretes bile, controls judgement and the sinews|
|Heart||Governs blood, controls the blood vessels, manifests in the complexion, houses the mind, opens onto the tongue and controlls sweat|
|Small Intestine||Controls the receiving and transportation of liquids and separates fluids|
|Spleen||Governs transportation and transformation of liquids, controls blood, controls muscles and the four limbs, opens into the mouth and manifest on the lips, controls the raising of Qi and houses thought|
|Stomach||Controls the rottening and ripening of food, controls transportation of food essence, controls the descending of Qi and is the origin of fluids|
|Lung||Governs Qi and respiration, controls channels and blood vessels, controls the dispersing and descending of liquids, regulates the water passages, controls the skin and the hair, opens onto the nose and houses the corporeal soul|
|Large Intestine||Reabsorption of food and liquid|
|Kidney||Stores essence, produces marrow, governs water, controls the reception of Qi, opens into the ears, manifests in the hair, controls the lower orifices and houses will power|
|Bladder||Removes water via Qi transformation|
It is not necessary to possess a deep understanding of how these organs interrelate, if you want to heal yourself with Chinese medicine, it’s enough to know that the flow of energy is balanced via these organs.
The second point to keep in mind is that these are not organs in the physical sense, rather, they are labels. The ancient TCM practitioners labelled these energy centres, in accordance with the actual physical organs, which they found in the body, but there is very little relation between these energetic organs and the physical organs.
The table above is a little bit complicated, so let’s take a look at a simplified one which outlines the health area which are governed by various ying organs:
|Ying Organs and their Role in Balancing our health|
|LIVER||Sinews||Eyes and Sight||Anger/Frustration||Ethereal Soul||Wind||Nails|
|Heart||Blood Vessels||Tongue and Taste||Joy||Mind||Heat||Complexion|
|Spleen||Muscles||Mouth and Taste||Worry/Pensiveness||Intellect||Dampness||Lips|
|Lung||Skin||Nose and Smell||Sadness/Grief||Corporeal Soul||Dryness||Body Hair|
|Kidney||Bones||Ears and Hearing||Fear||Will Power||Cold||Head Hair|
So we can see how in Chinese medicine we can diagnose health issues, to a great degree, according to this table above. For example, a person who has ringing in their ears, who suffers a lot with fear, lack of will power and who has dry lifeless hair, then this person definitely has a kidney pattern, which is resulting in these health imbalances.
However, Chinese medicine does not stop there. Let’s take a deeper look on the micro level.
Points on the Meridians: If the yang and yang organs are the macro level modulators of Qi energy, then the individual acupuncture points represent the micro level modulators.
So, for example, the liver channel controls the free flow of energy around the body. At a micro level the acupuncture point liver 3 tonifies this organ (tonification meaning that it boosts or tops up the energy in this channel), whereas liver 9 (regulates menses and helps with urinary bladder issues). So the same channel, with the same meta function (modulating energy flow), but on a more localised level one point boosts overall energy n the body, while the other helps urinary balder issues and blood flow within the womb. So quite a big difference!
The Five Elements: The final piece of the Traditional Chinese Medical pie is the five elements which are Earth, water, fire, wood and metal. The five elements is an entire philosophical system all by itself, so we won’t go into great detail here, for fear of confusing ourselves. Rather if you are interested in healing yourself, with Chinese medicine, just keep in mind that each organ relates to one of these elements and that imbalances can be understood in terms of five elements imbalances as well as the easier to understand theory of the eight principles.
In our next and final installment of this ‘Heal yourself with Traditional Chinese Medicine’ series, we shall take a detailed look at diagnosis. We will tie in the various details, which have already been outlined in articles one and two, and give you some practical advice which will greatly help with diagnosing and treating any and every possible malady!