The Spleen(脾) and the spleen meridian(脾经)

Before I start to introduce the spleen, we should clarify the conceptual differences between western medicine and TCM about the spleen. In western medicine, the spleen is an organ that acts as an filter for the blood, and is a part of the immune system. In acupuncture/TCM, the spleen refers to the Pancreas.

The functions of the spleen:

  1. The spleen transforms and transports food, water and nutrients through out the body.
    • it absorbs the essential components of food and liquids we consume and transform them into nacessary nutrients, then transports them through out the body
    • it distributes liquids through out the body and maintains the water balance within the body. When the spleen malfunctions, the water distribution will be go awry, conditions such as edema will occur.
  2. The spleen governs blood.
    • it generates blood. Blood is an essential bodily substance, when the spleen malfunctions, blood production will be affected, which will results in dizziness, emaciation, etc.
    • It contains blood within the blood vessels. When the spleen is weak, blood will leak out of the vessels, conditions such as subcutaneous hemorrhage will occur.

The spleen is a Yin organ and is the Yin of Yin. It is related to the season summer (like the heart, but the spleen is specifically related to the late summer), the taste of sweet, the color yellow, and the element of earth.

The spleen Meridian(足太阴脾经)

The spleen meridian has 2 pathways:

  • it starts at the medial aspect of the big toe, at the corner of the conjunction of the nail and the nailbed. Then it runs along the medial aspect of the foot at the junction of the dorsum and sole of the foot, goes up in front of the medial malleolus up to the medial aspect of the lower leg, runs alongside the posterior border of the tibia, crosses and goes in front of the liver meridian, passes through the anterior border of the medial aspect of the knee and thigh, enters the abdomen and connects with the spleen and stomach. Then it passes through the diaphragm, runs upward alongside the esophagus, connects the root of the tongue.
  • the branch starts in the stomach, goes through the diaphragm, connects with the heart at the point of Ren17 (Ren meridian), then connects with the heart meridian.

There are 21 points on the spleen meridian, they treat:

  • digestive conditions
  • OBGYN conditions
  • pain along the meridian pathway

 

 

The Lungs(肺) and the lung meridian(肺经)

The lungs

The functions of the lungs

  1. The lungs govern Qi (肺主气)
    • the lungs govern breathing, they take in the clear Qi from the nature and expel the turbid Qi from the body. They are in charge of the exchange of the “new” and the “old” of the body(吐故纳新).
    • the lungs govern all the Qi of the body(there are different types of Qi in the body, and all organs have their own Qi too). For example, the lungs take in the clear Qi and send it to the digestive organs, help them to transform food and liquid into “Qi of water and grain”.
  2. The lungs correspond with all blood vessels (肺朝百脉)
    • what this means is that the heart is in charge of the movement of the blood, this movement requires Qi as energy, and the engery-Qi comes from the lungs.
  3. The lungs regulate the water passage of the body
    • the lungs are the upstream and upper source of water that the body needs.
  4. The lungs disperce and descend
    • this meand the lungs spread clear Qi to the whole body, are in charge of sweating and send water down through out the body. (the lungs are on the top of other organs, so they are called “the canopy” or the “the marquee”, so they send water “down”).

The Lung Meridian(手太阴肺经)

The lung meridian starts in the middle burner(中焦, the midsection of the torso), then:

  1. move downward to connect with the large intestine
  2. winds back up, passes the diaphragm, the stomach, the lungs and comes out through the throat
  3. from the throat, it goes downward following the clavicle to enter the axilla, then runs down the anterior aspect of the upper arm, traverses the cubital fossa, and continues along the anterior aspect of the forearm to the radial styloid process of the wrist. It crosses the wrist pulse (radial pulse), traverses the thenar eminence, and travels along the radial side of the thumb to its tip.

The lung is related to the season of the fall, the emotion of sorrow, the taste of spicy, and the color of white.

There are 11 points on the lung meridian, and they treat:

  1. Common cold
  2. Athsma
  3. Pain in the regions that on the meridian pathway
  4. Coughs
 

The Heart (心) And The Heart Meridian(心经)

Functions of the Heart:

  1. Governing the blood and the blood vessels
    • The heart is in charge of the flow of the blood through out the body, therefore, it is also in charge of the transportation of nutrients through out the body. This is why the heart is thought to be the king of all other organs.
    • The heart pumps blood through out the body, the pumping in turn becomes pulsation and is shown on blood vessels. Pulse palpation is one of the major diagnostic tools of acupuncture/TCM
  2. Governing the spirit
    • Spirit in acupuncture/TCM includes 2 aspects of a person: the inner aspect, which are emotions, mental status, thoughts, etc; and the outer aspect, which is a person’s overall appearance, such as the complexions, voices, etc. These 2 aspects are fundamentally connected and mutually affected.
    • All emotions originate as the spirit in the heart, then differentiate into different types.
  3. The above 2 functions work together to keep a person alive.

The heart belongs to the Yin-organ group, but it is also a Yang-organ by itself. It is the Yang of the Yang, which ultimately governs a person’s life. Therefore, the heart is also called “the sun of the body”.

The heart is related to the season of summer, the taste of bitter, the element of fire, the temperature of heat, and the color of red.

The heart also opens to the outside through the tongue.

The Heart Meridian(手少阴心经)

 

The heart meridian originates in the heart, and has 3 pathways:

  1. The meridian starts in the heart then travels downward, passes the diaphragm, then connects with the small intestine
  2. The upward branch travels alongside the esophagus and goes up to the eyes
  3. The direct pathway travels into the lung, and then veers downwards to emerge below the axilla. It travels down the medial aspect of the upper arm, and passes the antecubital fossa. It continues down the anteromedial margin of the forearm to the capital bone on the wrist, travelling along the radial side of the fifth metacarpal bone to terminate at the tip of the little finger

There are 9 points on the heart meridian, they treat:

  • Pain in epigastric region
  • Emotional disorders(anxiety, depression, etc)
  • Palpitations(arrhythmia)
  • Sudden voice loss
  • Pain along the meridian pathways

Five-Zang and Six-Fu

How acupuncture/TCM view the organs

Just like modern medicine, acupuncture/TCM also has its own understanding of the organs with a different point of view. In acupuncture/TCM, organs are categorized into 3 groups, Zang-organs, Fu-organs and extraordinary organs.

1.Zang-organs(脏)
Zang-organs are solid and are Yin organs. Their functions are regeneration and storage of essence(blood, fat, etc.). There are 5 of them:

  • Heart
  • Liver
  • Spleen(pancreas)
  • Lungs
  • Kidneys

2.Fu-organs(腑)
Fu-organs are hollow and are Yang organs. Their functions are transportation and initiation of transformation of substances(food and bodily wastes). There 6 of them:

  • Stomach
  • Large intestines
  • Small intestines
  • Gallbladder
  • Urinary bladder
  • Tripple burner(this is a imaginary organ, the bodily cavity of the truck-thoracic cavity, abdominal cavity and the abdominopelvic cavity).

3.Extraordinary organs(奇恒之腑)

They are called extraordinary organs because they are hollow, like the Fu-organs but they also store essence like they Zang-organs. There are 6 of them:

  • Brain
  • Bones
  • Uterus
  • Marrow
  • Vessels
  • Gallbladder(yes, the gallbladder is both a Fu-organ and a extraordinary organ, because bile if thought to be a type of bodily essence)

Each organ has its own functions, and the Zang-organs are pairs with the Fu-organs: Heart-Small intestines, Lungs-Large intestines, Liver-Gallbladder, Spleen(pancreas)-Stomach, Kidneys-Urinary bladder.

I will explain the functions in upcoming blogs, stay toned.