Zang – Fu Organs in Traditional Chinese Medicine
The concept of the organs in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) is radically different from that of contemporary western medicine. Understanding this difference is very important because the physiology and pathology of the Organs is fundamental to the understanding and treatment of disease. Chinese medical theory is not a quick study, but we have tried to break it down for you throughout this website so that you can be a better advocate for your own health and wellbeing.
Zang – The Yin organs Kidney, Liver, Heart (Pericardium), Spleen, and Lungs are considered as deeper than the Yang organs, generally more solid, and are involved with the regulation, manufacturing and storage of fundamental substances such as Blood and Essence.
Fu – The Yang organs Stomach, Gall Bladder, Large Intestine, Small Intestines, Bladder, and San Jiao are the hollow organs are viewed as being closer to the surface, or exterior of the body. They are not store substances, and are instead involved with an ongoing process of change through functions of receiving, separating, distributing, and excreting substances.
To a modern westerner, the Chinese concept of organs might seem unusual as the Chinese medical concept of organs lack emphasis on a physical structure. Although many terms used when speaking of organs are similar to western concepts, they do not always refer to the specific organ tissue or structure, but rather to semi-abstract concepts of interrelated functions.
Each organ system has an impact on the other organ systems when it becomes imbalanced; additionally, each organ has an impact on the emotions. Chinese medicine views the individual person as a whole, interactive entity rather than individual parts and pieces. This is how Chinese medicine is able to differentiate disease patterns and devise effective treatment strategies. One disease can have many different patterns depending on a person’s individual body make-up, genetic dispositions, and lifestyle habits. The functions listed are not based on surgical discoveries, but on clinical observation of patients over many thousands of years, making Chinese medicine very practical in actual application.
- Controls the waterways and regulates fluid balance in the body.
- Stores the Essences (Jing) and produces marrow; this ‘Bone Marrow’ is essential in the formation of bone, the spinal cord, Blood, and the brain.
- Is the base of all Yin and Yang of the body and maintain the Gate of Vitality, or Mingmen Fire.
- Open into the ear and influence hearing, and manifest in the hair reflecting Kidney health through vital, lush, shiny hair.
Common Symptoms of Kidney Imbalances
- Afternoon and night sweats
- Low energy
- Fear, panic attacks, phobias and anxiety
- Premature aging including graying of hair
- Memory loss
- Sexual dysfunctions including impotence
- Urinary disorders
- Opens in to the eyes providing nourishing Liver Blood for vision health.
- Spread Qi of all organs in all directions and allows the free flow of Qi throughout the body necessary for the healthy function of the body.
- Stores Blood and regulates the amount of Blood in circulation, storing and releasing it as bodily demands present themselves.
- Controls tendons and nourishes the tendons and joints with Liver Blood.
Common Symptoms of Liver Imbalances
- Headaches, PMS, anger and frustration
- Acid reflux
- Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)
- Osteo-arthritis and stiff joints
- Brittle nails
- Lack of vision and direction in planning one’s life
- Governs all emotion
- Sexual warmth
- Controls blood vessels
Common Symptoms of Heart Imbalances
- Controls the raising of Qi
- Contains the Blood
- Transforms and transports foods and fluids
Common Symptoms of Spleen Imbalances
- Poor appetite
- Gas and abdominal distension
- Tiredness or weakness
- Loose stools
- Prolapsed organs
- Uterine bleeding
- Varicose veins
- Easy bruising
- Obsessive worry
- Lack of empathy
- Receives the Qi from the heavens
- Governs over the skin and hair
- Open into the nose
- Controls immune system
Common Symptoms of Lung Imbalances
- Bronchitis, asthma
- Frequent colds or flu
- Sadness or unresolved grief
- Lack of self-worth
- Poor boundaries