Zang and Fu Organs
zang and fu organs are the internal visible organs of the
body. The zang organs are of paramount importance in the body.
They co-ordinate with the fu organs and connect with the five
tissues (channels, jin1 muscles, skin-hair, bones), and the
nine openings (eyes, nose, ears, mouth, tongue, anus and external
genitalia), to form the system of the Five Zang. The pericardium
is not considered to be an important zang organ.
The Functions of the Zang Organs
xin-heart dominates the circulation of blood. When it functions
properly the tissues and organs are well perfused and nourished,
but when it malfunctions there is precordial pain, cyanosis
and ischaemia. This disease is due to 'stagnation of the blood
of xin-heart'. The xin-heart 'keeps' the mind. Normally there
is a clear mind, normal mentality, normal sleep and a good
memory. When this fails there is coma, insomnia or somnolence,
amnesia and mental derangement, because the xin-heart is failing
to 'keep' the mind.
gan-liver is the main yang organ of the body. The gan-liver
stores blood. Normally there is sufficient blood supply to
all tissues. When this fails there is ischaemia, dizziness,
malaise, abnormal menstruation and hemorrhage. The gan-liver
takes charge of freeing. Freeing really means the free flow
of blood and qi through the body, especially digestion and
the discharge of bile. When this is impaired there is irritability,
mental depression, anorexia, abdominal distension and jaundice.
The gan-liver controls the jin which governs the muscle tone.
When this function is disturbed there is muscle spasm, twitching,
opisthotonos and convulsions. This is due to an 'insufficiency
of yin and blood of the gan-liver, resulting in the malnutrition
of the jin'.
pi-spleen governs the transportation and transformation of
food, i.e. digestion. When digestion is abnormal there is
anorexia, distension of the abdomen, diarrhea, emaciation,
lassitude and oedema. This is due to 'a deficiency of the
qi of pi-spleen'. The pi-spleen commands the blood. Normally
the blood circulates within the blood vessels but when this
function fails there is extravasation of blood, chronic recurrent
hemorrhage and bruising. The pi-spleen dominates the muscles.
This really means controlling the muscle bulk. Normally there
is no muscle wasting, but when there is malnutrition of the
muscles they are weak and wasted. In addition the qi of pi-spleen
lifts and fixes the internal organs in their normal position.
fei-lung takes charge of respiration. Normally respiration
is even and the tissues are well oxygenated. When this function
fails breathing is uneven, there is a cough, dyspnoea, shallow
respiration and anoxia. This is due to 'a deficiency of qi
of fei-lung which causes an impairment of dissipation and
descent of clean qi (oxygen).
The fei-lung frees and regulates the water passage. This
function covers the transportation and distribution of nutrients
and water, the secretion of sweat and the excretion of urine.
Abnormally there will be hyperhydrosis or hypohydrosis, oedema
and difficulty in urination due to 'obstruction of the water
passage'. The fei-lung dominates the hair and skin. Normally
the skin is lubricious, the hair lustrous, and sweating is
normal. Abnormally the skin is rough, the hair dry and withered
and the skin is 'loose'. This looseness opens the pores and
increases the susceptibility to invasion by pathogenic factors.
shen-kidney is the main yin organ of the body. The shen-kidney
dominates growth, reproduction and development. When this
function fails there is a loss of reproductive function, retardation
of growth, failure to thrive, and premature senility due to
'an insufficiency of the qi of shen-kidney'. The shen-kidney
produces marrow, filling the brain with marrow, dominating
the bones and producing blood. Normally the spinal cord and
the brain are fully developed, the bones are strong and the
blood sufficient. Abnormally there will be dizziness, tinnitus,
insomnia, poor memory and lassitude. The bones will be weak
and brittle and the blood will be insufficient. This is due
to 'an insufficiency of the essence of shen-kidney'. The shen-kidney
controls body water. This entails normal urine production
and micturition. Abnormally there will be oliguria or anuria,
oedema, difficult or dribbling micturition, polyuria, enuresis
and incontinence. This is due to 'an insufficiency of yang
of the shen-kidney failing to control body water'. The shen-kidney
controls the intake of clean qi (air). Abnormally there will
be wheezing due to 'the failure of the shen-kidney to control
the intake of clean air'.
encloses and protects the xin-heart and the diseases of the
pericardium result in dysfunction of the xin-heart.
The Functions of the Fu Organs
general the traditional functions of the fu organs are very
similar to their functions in Western medicine.
The small intestine
small intestine connects with the xin-heart. The small intestine
receives and digests food from the stomach. It absorbs the
pure part and distributes it to the whole body, the impure
part going on to the large intestine. This function of the
small intestine belongs to the transforming and transporting
function of the pi-spleen.
gall-bladder connects with the gan-liver. It stores and discharges
bile. The expulsion of bile from the gall-bladder is closely
related to the freeing function of the gan-liver. The gan-liver
and the gall-bladder take charge of freeing together, and
jaundice results when this function is deranged.
stomach connects with the pi-spleen. The stomach stores and
digests food, passing it on to the small intestine. A deficiency
of qi of the stomach causes indigestion, epigastric pain and
sour regurgitation When the qi of the stomach ascends then
nausea, heartburn, vomiting, hiccoughs and flatulence occur.
The large intestine
large intestine connects with the fei-lung. The large intestine
absorbs the residue of water and turns the rest of the food
into feces. Disturbance of this function results in diarrhea
or constipation due to the 'descent of qi'.
The urinary bladder
urinary bladder connects with the shen-kidney. The bladder
stores and then discharges urine from the body
Chinese the sanjiao means the three cavities. The xin-heart
and the fei-lung are in the upper jiao (the chest), and they
transport qi and blood to all parts of the body in order to
nourish the body. The pi-spleen and stomach are in the middle
jiao (the epiastrium) and they digest and absorb food. The
shen-kidney and bladder are in the lower jiao (the hypogastrium)
and they control water metabolism and the storage and excretion
of water. The sanjiao is also sometimes called the triple
warmer organ. This is because the three body cavities are
intended to control the body temperature.
brain is a sea of marrow, i.e. it is an enlarged part of the
spinal cord. The shen-kidney produces the marrow that fills
the brain. If the essence of shen-kidney is absent then there
is inadequate marrow for the brain. In traditional Chinese
medicine the function of the mind is included in that of the
function of the uterus is to control the menstrual cycle,
develop the embryo and nourish the foetus. The qi and blood
of the channels pass into the uterus through the chong and
the ren channels, so that the qi of the body is able to influence
the flow and regularity of the menstrual cycle.