Five Zang-organs in TCM
In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), five Zang-organs correspond to meridians and six Fu-organs. These five Zang-organs are a part of the Zang-Fu Organ theory, which essentially talks about the Yin & Yang and the relationship between the Zang and Fu-organs. This theory explains how an external symptom could be caused by something internally because all the organs and tissues are organically connected.
The five Zang-organs consist of the Liver, Heart, Spleen, Lung, and Kidney. The Fu-organs that are paired with each Zang-organ respectively are the Gallbladder, Small Intestine, Stomach, Large Intestines, and Urinary Bladder. The characteristics of the Zang-organs are meant to govern the physical and mental regulation of the body. The primary purpose of these organs is to produce and store Qi, Blood, body fluids, essence, and Shen in the body. In this case, they are responsible for the maintenance of life activities.
The Heart is an important Zang-organ that is a part of the fire element. The Heart oversees the spirit of the body and is the powerhouse of an individual’s mental health. It houses the mind and the spirit; and within the spirit, it controls the mental activity, memory, consciousness, thoughts, and dreams. It governs the blood and vessels for regular blood circulation and corresponds to emotions and feelings such as happiness and joy. Having a balanced Heart function is significant since individuals would be more creative and optimistic about their future and themselves.
The next Zang-organ is the Lung. The Lung located in the chest is a part of the metal element. The major function of the Lung in TCM is to take Qi from the air. It is responsible for the overall Qi in the body since it turns oxygen into carbon dioxide through breathing. Physically, the Lung governs the skin and body hair. The skin helps protect the body, excrete sweat, and adjust body temperature. The body hair is for body resistance against foreign pathogens such as bacteria and viruses. Emotionally, the Lung corresponds to grief. The consequence of prolonged grief would be Lung Qi deficiency and low immunity. The Lung is responsible for the outmost layer of Qi and spreads descending and dispersing defensive Qi to the skin to fight diseases. The Lung also controls all channel circulation. It regulates water metabolism by spreading fluids to the skin or to the Kidney to be excreted. It is the most vulnerable five Zang-organ to an attack causing illness or disease.
Located below the diaphragm and to the right of the ribs, the Liver is a part of the wood element. The Liver‘s physiological functions include governing dredging, regulating Qi and Blood, mind and spirit, digestion, water metabolism, sex and reproduction, and generating and storing Blood. In other words, the primary function of the Liver is to ensure consistent blood flow and Qi through the meridian system. Maintaining a smooth flow of Qi is vital for optimal energy, mental health, and regular digestion. Other important duties of the Liver are to generate and store blood, control the tendons, recover energy when at rest, and nourish muscles that are being used since it is in charge of muscle, ligaments, and tendon movements. It houses the ethereal soul, which helps find a specific direction in life or planning for the future.
The Spleen located in the abdomen is the Zang-organ of the earth element. Unlike the western anatomical spleen, TCM states that the Spleen is the principal organ of digestion. The Spleen plays an important role in our overall health because not only is it responsible for transforming food into nutrients, but it also transports essential Qi from the food into other parts of the body. The Spleen keeps internal organs in place and sends essential substances or nutrients to the head/brain. The Spleen controls muscles and four limbs for energy. It also houses thoughts in the mind for clear thinking, which influences how we concentrate, study, or memorize material. For this reason, if there was an issue with the Spleen, there might be issues with our digestive and emotional systems. For example, chronically tired people may have Spleen Qi deficiency. Nonetheless, the Spleen is responsible for blood circulation inside the vessels to prevent hemorrhages from occurring.
The Kidney is located in the waist. Since the Kidney is responsible for producing urine and filtering waste from the body for removal, it is a part of the water element. The Kidney stores the Essence (Jing) which transforms Qi and produces Blood. Physiological functions of the Kidney include governing growth and development, sex and reproduction, water metabolism, reception of Qi, producing bone marrow, and nourishing and warming the internal organs. The purpose of producing marrow is to be able to enrich the brain, transform the blood, and control the bones. The Kidneys provide the willpower to get through obstacles to reach certain goals. A significant characteristic of the Kidney is that it is the root of the genes because it dominates the Yin and Yang in the body. Most aging diseases are indicators of Kidney Qi deficiency. Once the Kidney starts to get weak, the human body will experience symptoms like lower back pain, dizziness, constipation, night sweats, vaginal dryness, and premature ejaculation.
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