Organs in Western and Eastern Medicine

| March 31, 2010 | 0 Comments | 865 views

Organs in Western and Eastern Medicine

Organs in Western and Eastern Medicine

When you visit an acupuncture clinic, you may get treatment and feel much better without ever knowing anything about the philosophy behind acupuncture, and that is fine. However, your acupuncture practitioner knows a vast amount of information that is not only interesting, but will help you maintain your health. One area that is particularly interesting is the Eastern medical idea of organs. We all know what organs are, or at least examples of them: heart, liver, lungs, etc. Chinese medicine has a similar concept in several ways, but it looks at them a bit differently. In both views, an organ is a structure that performs certain clearly stated functions. However, in Chinese medicine, each organ also has a particular kind of energy (called Qi) associated with it. This energy flows in certain pathways around the body (called meridians), and so a lot of attention is given to the relation between different organs based on this circulation of Qi. Also, each organ has certain times during the day when it generates a lot of energy, and other times when it is less active. So, an organ is not just a structure, it is a combination structure-energy package that supports and controls the behavior and energy generation of the organs along the energy meridian.

There are twelve organs important to Chinese medicine. The ones that correspond to organs that we are used to include the lung, liver, stomach, heart, and kidney. Western medicine acknowledges the importance of these. Chinese medicine separates out several for individual study: the small and large intestine are two separate organs, and the pericardium (the sac around the heart) is considered a separate organ. Also, the gall bladder and urinary bladder are important in Chinese medicine, less so in western medicine. And finally, there is the "triple warmer" organ, which is a set of three places in the torso that has a particular Qi energy.

The reasons these organs are important to acupuncture is that a healthy body and mind is supported by a normal flow of Qi, and so knowing the locations of the organs and the behavior of the Qi energy is crucial to knowing and re-establishing the normal flow through acupuncture. Centuries of study have associated certain sets of symptoms with dysfunction of a particular organ: for example, dizziness, rib pain, and blurred vision suggest a liver organ malfunction. By listening to physical, mental, and emotional symptoms, and by physical observation of the patient, the acupuncture practitioner can determine the organs that are affected.

An organ may have an excess of Qi energy, or a deficiency. The acupuncture treatment will consist of stimulating the Qi energy flow using needles to rebalance the energy. For example, if an organ has a deficiency, another organ will be designated as a donor organ to supply energy, and so knowing the energy flow between organs is very important. Just like a clogged fuel line, a small change in the delivery system may see a significant improvement in several different places. In this way, a few acupuncture treatments to replenish energy in a particular organ may see improvement in a number of symptoms.

Enjoy your visits to your acupuncture clinic, and the benefits they provide. But remember, there is a world of information that supports these treatments, and knowing more about this is not only interesting, but also helpful in maintaining optimal health.

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