[Scientific Qi Exploration]
The Relation Between Fu (Yang) and Zang (Yin) Organs
by Marty Eisen
The Yin Organs are classified as internal relative to the external Yang Organs (1, 2, 3, 4). They are connected in pairs, as indicated in the following sections, by Principal, Diverging and Connecting Meridians of the same name. The functional relations between these pairs range from strong for the Stomach and Spleen to very tenuous for the Triple Burner and Pericardium – in fact, some texts state these last two pairs do not influence each other.
1. Stomach and Spleen
The interrelation between the Spleen and Stomach is so close that they could be considered as two aspects of the Organ system for digestion and distributing nutrients to the body. The Stomach governs reception, rotting and ripening of food. The absorption and distribution of nutrient substances depend on the Spleen’s function of transportation and transformation. The Spleen’s function of transporting food qi to the body is dependent on the Stomach qi. The Stomach is the origin of fluids, but relies on the Spleen to transform, separate and move them. Dysfunction of reception by the Stomach may lead to poor appetite and a hungry sensation. Dysfunction of transportation and transformation by the Spleen, due to retention of dampness, may lead to inability to ascend and clear and affect receiving and descending of the Stomach. This leads to symptoms such as: poor appetite, nausea, vomiting; distention of the epigastrium.
Normally, Spleen qi ascends, distributing the essential substances of food and water up to the Heart and Lungs. Stomach qi descends, moving the digested food and water downwards. Pathologically, if Spleen qi descends, diarrhea or a prolapsed rectum may occur. If Stomach qi ascends, nausea, vomiting and hiccups may occur.
- The Stomach prefers wetness and dislikes dryness, while the Spleen prefers dryness and dislikes wetness. If the Stomach is too dry, Stomach qi cannot descend and food cannot be moved down to the Small Intestine. If the Spleen is too damp, Spleen qi cannot ascend and foods and fluid cannot be transported or transformed, which can lead to more dampness.
- The Stomach is easily affected by excess, while the Spleen easily suffers from deficiency.
- The Stomach tends to suffer from a yin deficiency, while the Spleen from a yang deficiency.
- The Stomach is prone to pathogenic cold; the Spleen from heat.
These two organs are only connected psychologically and pathologically. Some Chinese medical texts say that Heart qi helps the Small Intestine to separate, but this is not explained clearly.
The Heart stores the Mind and is responsible for mental activities. Mental activities rely on the capacity of clear judgment and decisions, which are functions of the Small Intestine. On the other hand, clear judgment depends on mental capacity, which is a function of the Heart.
Excess Fire in the Heart meridian can transmit pathogenic heat to the Small Intestine, producing the syndrome “excessive Heat in the Small Intestine”. Some clinical manifestations are: oliguria, deep yellow urine and burning sensations during urination. Conversely, Heat in the Small Intestine can rise in the Meridian to distress the Heart resulting in symptoms such as mental restlessness, redness and ulceration of the tongue.
3. Lungs and Large Intestine
Descending Lung qi helps the Large Intestine’s function of defecation. If Lung qi is deficient, the Large Intestine will not have enough qi for defecation, resulting in constipation. This is common in seniors with declining Lung Qi.
On the other hand, suppose the Large Intestine does not excrete waste food and material properly resulting in constipation. The stagnation of food in the Large Intestine can impair the descending of Lung qi leading to breathlessness.
4. Liver and Gall Bladder
The Liver depends on the Gall Bladder qi to assist its function of smoothing the flow of Qi. On the other hand, the Gall Bladder function of storing and excreting bile depends on the Liver function of smooth qi flow.
Psychologically, the Liver’s guidance in planning life is dependent on the Gall Bladder’s influence on having the initiative and courage to make decisions. An excellent point to affect the mental influences of the Gall Bladder is GB 40 (2).
Some syndromes of the Liver and Gall Bladder cannot be separated completely and clinical manifestations frequently appear together. For example, both excessive Gall Bladder Fire and excessive Liver Fire may have symptoms of chest and hypochondriac pain, dry throat, bitter taste in the mouth, from extravasation of bile, and irritability. Damp heat in the Liver and Gall Bladder may produce jaundice, a bitter taste in the mouth, hypochondriac pain and mental depression, resulting from the stagnation of Liver qi.
5. Kidneys and Bladder
There is a close interrelation between these two Organs. The Bladder derives necessary qi for fluids transformation from the Kidneys and the Gate of Vitality (Ming Men). Kidney qi also helps the Bladder to open and close regularly. On the other hand, the Kidneys depend on the Bladder to move and excrete some of their “dirty” fluids.
Deficiency of Kidney qi will lead to irregular opening and closing of the Bladder resulting in dysuria, enuresis; incontinence of urine and frequency of urination. Pathological changes in the storage and discharge of urine are often related to problems of both the Kidney and Bladder.
6. Pericardium and Triple Burner
The interrelation between the Triple Burner and Pericardium is questionable and may be through the meridians. The classics are not much help.
The Yellow Emperor’s Classics and the Classics of Difficulties list 5 Yin and 6 Yang Organs, omitting the Pericardium, but they mention 12 Channels, including the Pericardium. Originally the Pericardium was not considered separate from the Heart.
Chapter 38 in the Classics of Difficulties states that there are 6 Yang Organs including the Triple Burner, which has a name but no form. It implies that the Triple Burner is different than the other Yang Organs.
Some Chinese medicine teachers and doctors even say that these two organs are not interiorly and exteriorly related as the other 5 pairs of organs. The Medicine Treasure states that the Triple Burner is interiorly-exteriorly related to the Gate of Vitality or Ministerial Fire. This clarifies the ascription of the Triple Burner to Fire from the 5-Element perspective. Since the Pericardium has a close anatomical connection to the Heart, it also should belong to the Fire Element. Hence, the Pericardium and Triple Burner are connected through the Five Elements (2).
1. Johnson, J.A. Chinese Medical Qigong Therapy. Int. Institute of Medical Qigong, Pacific Grove, CA, 2000.
2. Maciocia, G. The Foundations of Chinese Medicine. Churchill Livngstone, New York, 1989.
3. Zu Bing andWang Hongcai, Eds. Basic Theories of Traditional Chinese Medicine. Singing Dragon, Philadelphia, PA, 2010.
4. Chen Youbang, et al, eds. Chinese Acupuncture and Moxibustion. Foreign Language Press, Beijing China, 1990.
Dr. Eisen is a retired scientist, who constructed mathematical models in medicine. He has studied and taught Judo, Shotokan Karate, Aikido, Qigong, Praying Mantis Kung Fu, and Tai Chi in different places. He took correspondence courses in Chinese herbology and studied other branches of Chinese medicine with a traditional Chinese medical doctor. He was the Director of Education of the Chinese Medicine and Acupuncture Institute in Upper Darby, P.A. http://home.comcast.net/~carolezak