Qi Gong and the Zang Fu Organs

January 11, 2018 | Author: walterego58 | Category: Qi, Qigong, Asian Traditional Medicine, Traditional Chinese Medicine, Medicine
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Essay looks at why illness happen in the body from the viewpoint of Traditional Chinese Medicine and how Qi Gong helps b...


Discuss the Zang Fu Organs with regards to imbalance. Look at how Qi Gong Exercises and related therapies may work to balance the Zang Fu functions.

In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) the Zang Fu organs are the internal organs of the human body. TCM works on the simple premise that Qi is the energy or force that gives the body life, health and vitality. When Qi flow is blocked or disrupted the internal organs may no longer function properly, resulting in imbalance and potential disease. Any discussion about imbalance and balance within the Zang Fu organs can only be described within the conceptual frameworks of TCM and the Daoist cosmological and Wu Xing theories. In Daoist cosmology the Dao is the primal power responsible for all creation. The basic dynamic of the universe is seen to be Qi, the primordial ‘energy’ from which everything in existence originates. The Dao is seen to act on this Earth through Qi, which in turn, works through the processes of Yin and Yang which work together to bring about a state of harmonious balance in man and nature. Daoist Wu Xing or ‘Five Elemental Processes’ theory represents the dynamic interplay of Yin and Yang within all natural phenomena. The five elements of Wood, Fire, Metal, Earth and Water are seen to be the fundamental components of the universe, including the human body. Wu Xing theory describes how their energetic properties, or movements, are responsible for the relative balance of Yin and Yang on both a physical, energetic and consciousness level. On a macrocosmic level the five Elemental processes represent the interplay between Yin and Yang as they act to maintain natural cyclic processes in the universe such as moving the stars around the heavens and the changes of the seasons. On a microcosmic level Wu Xing theory uses nature as its inspiration and sees that the interplay of these Elemental energies are reflected within the physiological processes of the human body. The Zang Fu organs are governed by one of the five Elemental energies and when in balance there is health and vitality. However, an imbalance of Elemental energies can lead to illness and disease.

The Zang Fu Organs Most of the Zang Fu organs share the anatomical name, but not necessarily the same physiological function, as its Western medicine counterpart. TCM also has conceptual room for the ‘Triple Burner’ and ‘Pericardium’ internal organs. The Five Yin Zang organs are paired with six Yang Fu organs with each pair linked to one of the Five Elemental energies – see table below.






Yin Organs

Heart Pericardium





Yang Organs

Small Intestine Triple Heater


Large Intestine


Gall Bladder

The Zang Fu organs are connected by a complex network of Qi distributing channels called meridians. The 12 Primary Meridians link to a specific Yin or Yang Five Element Zang Fu organ. These meridians are the main information communication lines between the Zang Fu organs and the external body, as well as between the human body and nature. Qi is exchanged between man and the external environment to allow Qi transformation to take place within the meridian system. Pathologically, the meridians represent the routes of entry for, and transmission of, pathogenic factors that can cause imbalance and disease within the Zang Fu organs. Western medicine mainly focuses on individual organ pathology whilst TCM views the body holistically with Zang Fu functional relationships responsible for the total integration of all bodily functions. Western physicians also consider certain organ functions as very different to those described in TCM. For example, emotional balance and clarity of mind, which Western medicine ascribes to the proper functioning of the nervous and endocrine systems, are considered to be controlled by the Heart and Pericardium organs. Finally, different aspects of consciousness are controlled by different organs as opposed to the Western view that it is housed in the brain. Thus the Heart is recognised as the seat of consciousness (Shen), the Ethereal Soul (Hun) resides in the Liver, the Corporeal Soul (Po) is housed in the Lung, the Will (Zhi) is directed by the Kidney, and Thought (Yi) is controlled by the Spleen. The Wu Xing ‘Generation and Control Cycles’ act as a model to describe the elemental relationships, physiological functions and mutual interdependence of every Zang and Fu organ. In broad terms, complete balance of the cycles is needed for optimum physical, emotional and mental health. However, disruptions to normal Qi flow and excessive changes to the relative balances of Yin and Yang within the Zang Fu organs may lead to illness and disease, which is reflected in the Five Elemental meridians.

Zang Fu Organ Imbalance Any imbalance or blockage within the meridians or Zang Fu organs may cause an excess of Yang or a deficiency of Yin elemental energies. In turn, this may have a detrimental pathological impact on the physical, energetic and consciousness bodies. The interrelationships of the Zang Fu organs allow pathogenesis to spread from one organ to another in the network. Also, the energetic balance of one organ can affect the functions of any other inter-linked organ. There is a reciprocal relationship between the Zang organs and emotions, the state of the organ affecting the emotions and the emotions affecting the health of that organ. The emotions affect the organs principally through their effect on Qi, and different emotions affect Qi differently. For example, anger makes Qi rise excessively and affects the Liver. Joy slows the Qi, affecting the Heart. worry and sadness knots the Qi, affecting the Spleen and Lung. Fear makes Qi descend, affecting the Kidneys, and shock scatters Qi, affecting the Kidney and Heart. Most of the emotions, when intensely prolonged or repressed, cause Qi to stagnate, turning Heat into excess Fire, which is the Elemental energy responsible for many pathological states within the systems of the body. The effect of long term unbalanced emotions upset the dynamic balance of Yin and Yang within the Zang Fu organs and causes extreme fluctuations of the Five Energetic movements within the Wu Xing. Any Zang Fu imbalance has a negative effect on the information contained within Qi which cause adverse

physiological processes within the Elemental meridians. In turn, this leads to pathology of the associated Zang Fu organs. Also, protective Qi (Wei Qi) is impaired and the immune systems ability to fight off disease is compromised. The harmful effects of extreme emotional states on the Zang Fu organs can be counteracted by the cultivating the Virtues of Daoism as described in the Dao De Jing – courage, empathy, wisdom, patience and contentment. These positive attributes promote health and spiritual wellbeing, thereby helping to balance the functions of the Zang Fu organs. It is important to recognise that TCM does not advocate that these emotions should always be held in check or eliminated in order to prevent disease. Instead it advocates the ‘Golden Mean’, a course steered between extremes, where balanced emotions are seen as the keystone to good health and longevity. External Zang Fu imbalances can arise due to the negative influence of climatic conditions on the body. Heat influences the Heart; wind influences the Liver; dryness influences the lung; dampness influences the Spleen; and cold influences the Kidneys. Internal imbalances may weaken the body’s Wei Qi, reducing its effectiveness in repelling the adverse effects of the weather. General causes of Zang Fu organ imbalance are due to the effects of our life style choices. For example, poor diet, a sedentary lifestyle or excessive sexual activity.

Therapies That Balance Zang Fu Organ Function

Qi Gong, Shiatsu and Acupuncture are therapies that aim to restore the natural flow of Qi within the energy body in order to balance Zang Fu organs functions. Qi Gong Qi Gong (Energy Skill) is a practice that shows practitioners how to cultivate and control Qi so it can be guided within the body to correct physiological and pathological imbalances and help restore normal Zang Fu organ function. Qi Gong practitioners use a synergetic combination of breathing practices, visualisation techniques, movement and meditation in order unblock meridians and restore normal Qi flow. This helps balance and harmonise Yin and Yang and the Five Elemental energies. For example, Qi Gong balances Water (Yin) and Fire (Yang) Qi. This is important because chronic excessive Fire Qi states lead to diminished immunity, functional degeneration and premature aging. The cultivation of Water Qi, however, slows down this process and promotes health and longevity. The key to successful Qi Gong practice is to work with and increase the body’s ability to produce the ‘Three Treasures’ of Daoist medicine – Jing, Qi and Shen. These substances are differentiations of Qi and respectively relate to the physical, energetic and consciousness bodies of man. The Three Treasures collectively support all the body’s processes and are fundamental to maintaining physical, emotional and spiritual wellbeing. These substances are transported and transformed within the body by three energy centres known as the lower, middle and upper Dan Tiens. The lower Dan Tien is the main focus in Qi Gong practice because it is the source of Original Qi and its rotation is the driving force for Qi circulation throughout the body.

Qi Gong and the Three Treasures Abdominal breathing practices cultivate additional Qi from the Original Jing (Juan Jing) stored in the kidneys, adrenals and urogenital system. This form of Jing is inherited from parents at birth and is the essential energy needed to support life, growth and development. Its supply reaches a peak in early adulthood and then starts to gradually decrease resulting in diminished immunity, decline in cognitive function, poor libido and many of the cardinal signs of aging. Consequently, any practice that increases the supply of Jing can only serve to boost overall health, and by inference, the functional balance of all the Zang Fu organs. It is equally important to conserve Jing as it is the source of Acquired Qi and Shen, the other two essential Treasures. General causes of Zang Fu organ imbalance include poor life style choices such as a fast food diet, smoking, alcohol dependence and excessive sexual activity which all serve to deplete the essential supply of Jing. Therefore, it makes sense to make better life style choices in order to conserve Jing, or at the very least, limit its loss. Jing moves to the lower Dan Tien area where it converted into Acquired Qi which is derived from water, food and air. Acquired Qi activates all bodily processes so it is important to follow a nutritious diet and improve the quality of Qi exchange with the external environment during respiration. The rotation of the lower Dan Tien pumps the Acquired Qi to the middle Dan Tien where it is refined and then transformed into Shen, the energy of our consciousness body. Daoist meditation practices are another way to work with the transformation of these Three Treasures Qi Gong and the Breath In Qi Gong the breath is used as bridge to connect the physical body, the energy body and consciousness. Deep abdominal breathing practices pump breath and Qi through the meridians nourishing the internal organ and brain. The pump action of the diaphragm promotes the circulation of blood and Qi as well as massaging and stimulating the internal organs. Breathing practices are used to guide Qi to the extremities such as skin and hair in order to strengthen Wei Qi within the body. Qi Gong practitioners also use the mind or intent (Yi) to regulate the quality of Qi within the meridians during respiration. The mind is used to expel pathogenic or excess Qi along the meridians and into the external environment during exhalation and receive more purified Qi on inhalation. This respiratory exchange of Qi between the man and the external environment typically takes place through the Laogong acupuncture points on the palms or the Yongquan points on the bottom of the feet. Qi Gong and Movement Qi Gong static and movement exercises can correct body alignment and open up the vertebrae of the spine, thereby releasing stagnant Qi and ensuring its free flow within the body. Blockages to normal Qi flow within the Elemental meridians result in excess or deficient Qi states that in turn cause Zang Fu organ imbalance. Qi Gong uses soft flowing movement combined with breathing practices to promote efficient Qi flow within these blocked meridians. Qi circulation can be further enhanced by exercises that open the main energy gates of the body (Qi Men) which act as energetic pumps for the increased distribution of Qi within the meridians. The Qi Men are located in the body’s joints which often contain stagnant Qi due to local restricted movement or poor mobility. Individual movements within a Qi Gong exercise set work with specific meridians to target particular imbalances. Alternately, complete sets can be performed as a preventive measure to rebalance all Elemental energies of the Zang Fu organs. Qi Gong practitioners use their knowledge of Elemental

meridians to guide and regulate the quality and flow of Qi through conscious breathing practices and visualisation techniques. Advanced Qi Gong practitioners can use external Qi projection methods to help treat Zang Fu organ imbalance in other people.

Shiatsu and Acupuncture – Japanese Shiatsu therapy and Chinese Acupuncture use different methods but common TCM philosophy to rebalance Yin and Yang and the flow of Qi within the paired elemental Zang Fu organs. Signs and symptoms of imbalance are diagnosed within the context of the Five Elemental energies and treatment is based on the functional elemental relationships of the Wu Xing Generation and Control Cycles. Acupuncturists may use a combination of needling, moxibustion and cupping techniques along the Acupuncture points located on the line of the 12 primary meridians in order to balance the Zang Fu organs. Shiatsu uses a combination of hands on techniques to calm, sedate or tonify areas where meridian imbalance is diagnosed. Shiatsu practitioners may also palpate the client’s hara (lower Dan Tian area) in the diagnosis and treatment of Zang Fu organ imbalance. Different areas of the abdomen link to the paired Zang Fu organs so palpation reveals the energetic imbalances that have manifested in the Elemental meridians. The meridian with the most empty (Kyo) state and the one with the most full (Jitsu) are the ones chosen to work on.

Associated, Alarm and Source Acupuncture Points Acupuncture and Shiatsu often use the same acupuncture points and Elemental meridians during the treatment of Zang Fu organ imbalance. These points are seen as openings to the Elemental meridians and the main channels to, from and between the Zang Fu organs. Shu points reflect the balance of the Zang Fu organs and the state of the Elemental meridians in the body. Shu means ‘associated’ and is an indication of the way in which these points reflect an imbalance in the functional energy associated with each Zang Fu organ. These points are located on the back along the Bladder channel which runs either side of the spine. Mu points also reflect the balance Zang Fu organ function and are found on the abdomen and chest. Mu means ‘alarm’ with the client reporting pain at the slightest touch or insertion of an Acupuncture needle. The Yuan source points are located near the wrists and ankles and are generally used to confirm imbalances related to either the Zang Fu organs or Elemental meridians. These points are where the central energy of the body is brought to each meridian by the Triple Heater and tend to become more reactive when there is Zang Fu organ or Elemental meridian imbalance. Summary Traditional Chinese Medicine looks at the person as an integrated functional whole rather than focussing on the dysfunction of individual body parts as is the case in Western medicine. Consequently, physical signs and symptoms of disease are viewed as an energy imbalance involving the Zang Fu organs and Elemental meridians. Treatment of disease is achieved by rebalancing the Five Elemental energies through therapy intervention. On a personal level the goal is to cultivate positive life practices which promote balance and harmony of our physical, energetic and consciousness bodies.

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