When you visit a Doctor of Chinese Medicine (whether they treat using acupuncture and/or herbs), they will look at the health of each organ and ensure that each is doing its job in the wider whole to govern or regulate the complex system of ‘you’.
In Western medicine we have a particular understanding of the function of each organ based on scientific medical theory. While this is immensely valuable and brings great detail to our understanding of the body, I think it is also wonderful to drawn on perspectives from classical Chinese medical theory, which tends to bring a wide lens view of how the organs and their related channels interrelate to keep us in good health and fine spirits.
The following metaphors for each of the body’s organs are from the oldest Chinese Medicine text (Huang Di Nei Jing), written over 2000 years ago. I hope they stimulate a flash of joy for what your body does for you each day:
Loving the Government of ‘You’
- The heart holds the office of emperor and is the issuer or spirit clarity.
- The lung holds the office of prime minister and is the issuer of management and regulation.
- The liver holds the office of general and is the issuer of strategies and planning.
- The gallbladder holds the office of rectifier and is the issuer of decisions.
- The pericardium holds the office of governmental envoy; happiness issues from it.
- The spleen-stomach holds the office of the granaries and issues the five flavours.
- The large intestine holds the office of transport master, issuing change and transformation.
- The small intestine holds the office of abundant reception, issuing material transformation.
- The kidney holds the office of forceful accomplishment and is the issuer of wonderful talent.
- The triple burner holds the office of irrigation design; the water pathways issue from it.
- The bladder holds the office of regional rectifier, storing up fluids, and is ultimately dependent on qi transformation for release.
The above statements are from the over two millennia old book Basic Questions. (https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Huangdi_Neijing). In Chapter Eight, the Yellow Emporer asks a physician named Qi Bo how to differentiate the functions and relationships of the twelve organs. Qi Bo answers with a series of metaphors based on government organization, something the Emperor and his court would understand well. Though the language may seem a little archaic and the concepts very general, they are metaphors and mnemonic devices whose intention is to help stimulate a flash of intuitive understanding about that organ system.
*The organ description translations are from the book “Applied Channel Theory in Chinese Medicine”, 2008, by Wang Ju Yi and Jason D Robertson, published by Eastland Press.