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What the Ancients knew about our bodies

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ancientsphotoIn Chinese medical theory, the summer characterizes the energy of the Fire element. The Fire element brings warmth, passion, joy and activity into our lives. When we lack fire, we lack emotional warmth, passion and joy. This leads to inactivity and closing off from the world.
The Fire element is governed by the heart, small intestine, Triple Heater (Triple Burner or Triple Warmer) and Pericardium meridians. The latter two are systems linked to the heart and small intestine and are not actual organs, but carry out specific functions.
Practitioners of acupuncture consider the heart the most important of all organs. It is considered the “ruler, monarch and emperor of the body.” 1 The small intestine “is the official in charge of receiving, being filled and transforming.” 2 Together, these organs are paired in a Yin and Yang relationship and have particular functions that may differ from our Western understanding.
Some of the functions of the heart closely resemble those of Western thought. It controls and regulates the flow of blood throughout the body, resulting in healthy tissues, a warm body and an even, regular pulse. The heart also supplies us with vigor, robustness and a strong constitution.
Ancient texts also describe the heart as housing the Shen, a very important concept. Shen,according to Chinese medicine, is known as psyche, mind, or spirit. In other words, “it is the residence of the mind.” Positive Shen can be seen in the bright, shining, twinkling eyes of healthy people in good spirits and experiencing joy in their lives.
When Shen is out of balance, mental activity, consciousness, memory, thinking and sleep can all be affected.The small intestine is the largest organ in the body. It averages more than fifteen feet in length and about an inch in diameter.
Chinese medicine refers to it as “the controller of the reception, transformation and separation of fluids and solids.” The small intestine receives food and fluids from the stomach, “transforms” them by separating the “pure” from the “impure,” sending the
refined, pure essences up to be dispersed throughout the entire body. The impurities are flushed down to your large intestine and bladder to be further refined and then excreted. Western medicine views the Pericardium as a covering surrounding the heart. This is mirrored in Chinese medicine in that the Pericardium protects the heart from attacks by
exterior pathogenic factors, such as high fevers. In the Spiritual Axis it says: “The heart is the ruler of the 5 Yin and 6 Yang organs, it is the residence of the mind and it is so tough that no pathogenic factor can take hold on it. If the heart is attacked by a pathogenic factor, the mind suffers, which can lead to death. If the pathogenic factor does not attack
the heart, it will be deviated to attack the Pericardium instead.” 3 The Triple Heater is a bit elusive in its functions. It is not an organ system, but a division of areas within the body.
The Triple Heater functions to divide to body into three parts: the Upper Heater includes the heart, lungs, pericardium, throat and head; the Middle Heater includes the stomach, spleen and gallbladder; and the Lower Heater includes the liver, kidneys, intestines and bladder. All three heaters manage and oversee day-to-day functioning of the body, and regulate water passage from the upper, middle and lower Heaters.
1,2,3 Giovanni, M. The Foundations of Chinese Medicine – A comprehensive text for acupuncturists and herbalists. Churchill Livingstone, 1993. Pages 71, 114.
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