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No.57 Acupuncture: Understanding the Five Organ Networks

Applied Health Journal

Applied Health Journal

Topics of Health and Natural Healing
Issue 57
ISSN: 1525-6359

In a previous article, we discussed the effects of climatic conditions and how they effect us in a metaphoric manner, such as dampness in our body. This issue, we will discuss how the Oriental doctor understands the organs of the body and their relationship to the balance of our total health.

When out of balance, each of the five "yin" organ networks display physical and emotional signs. Thus by noting the patient's signs (symptoms and behavior), we can tell which organ networks are distressed, where there is congestion (blocked chi) or depletion (deficient chi), and then what acupuncture points are needed to stimulate the correct pathways (meridians) to restore balance and health.

The following is a list of the five organ networks, as well as their usual patterns of distress:

The Liver

The job of the liver is to store the blood and to manage the smooth circulation of blood and chi. The emotional expressions of the liver network are rage and anger, when it is ill, and courage when it is well. The liver network is responsible for our determination and initiative.

When this organ is healthy and strong, we are capable of bold, confident, decisive action and clear judgment. When it is weak, we feel frustrated and irritable. Congestion of the liver may also cause high blood pressure, headaches, and menstrual cramps, as well as neck and shoulder tension.

The Heart

The heart network not only propels the blood through the vessels, it harbors the shen (translated as both spirit and mind), suffusing the body with awareness. The job of the heart is to integrate thought, sensation, and feeling. Symptoms as varied as chest pain, confusion, ceaseless chatter, panic, insomnia and palpitations occur when the heart network is out of balance.

The Spleen

The third yin organ, the Spleen, is responsible for assimilating both food and information. When a person is overwhelmed by either, they will suffer from mental and physical indigestion.

When the spleen is healthy, there is not only good digestion, there is also a capacity to be nurturing, sympathetic, agreeable, and poised.

Conversely, being tired, scattered and unable to concentrate or remember things, and overwhelmed by details, are manifestations of a disturbed spleen. This organ is particularly vulnerable to dampness, whether arising internally (from diet or insufficient heat) or extreme humidity. In either case, this produces feelings of laziness, heaviness in the arms and legs, a generalized sense of being burdened, a bloated belly, and muddled thinking.

The Lungs

The lungs set the body rhythm by regulating the breath. The skin, regarded as the third lung, sets limits and defends our boundaries, establishing the border between the inside and the outside, both psychologically and physically.

When the lungs are healthy, the capacity for discrimination, methodical analysis and discipline exist. Someone who is overprotective of themselves and their environment, or is oversensitive, controlling and uptight could be suffering from lung disharmony.

Other signs of disturbance include tightness of the chest, skin rashes, vulnerability to colds and flu, rigid thinking and melancholy.

The Kidney

Finally, the influence of the Kidney network includes, and extends beyond,the role of managing the fluid metabolism that we associate with kidney function. The kidney network stores the body's essence, a resource required for reproduction, growth and regeneration.

The state of alarm, the force of will and capacity for sharp thinking and perception all arise from the kidneys. Problems such as retarded growth, ringing in the ears, infertility, low bank pain, paranoia, dulled thinking and feeling, weak vision, apathy, or despair are reviewed as symptoms of an impaired kidney network.

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