The lungs, spleen, kidney, liver and heart, also called the five solid organs (yin), are at the core of immune activity. These organs also make up the zang organs in Traditional Chinese Medicine. In TCM, the zang organs are joined with the body’s tissues, organs (viscera), qi (invisible vital energy), meridians, blood & other body fluid as well to create a unity.
Zang organs are part of the overall dynamic energy process of the human body. Healthy energy is closely related to its physiology activities. Human beings can actually learn a lot from the zang organs. Despite their individual functions, they team up and act as messengers. They are responsible for transportation and storage, excess and wastes, controlling of internal communication, activating bodily functions, and making important decisions.
Traditional Chinese Medicine defines healthy energy as body’s natural resistance against diseases and its recovery and repair ability. These functions are linked to the physiological activities of the five zang organs. In this description, you can safely relate the zang organs to the similarity of the Chakra system.
Here is a break down the organs and their functions:
1. Heart – to regulate
The heart controls and regulates blood flow throughout the body in vessels. In Traditional Chinese Medicine, the heart is considered the chief administrator of all mental and physiological activities. It rules the spirit (shen) which is an important aspect of mind or spirit in Chinese medicine; it refers to thought, state of consciousness or mental health. The heart influences the organs through the monarch-fire (it cooperates with the prime minister fire to promote the functional activities of the organs), also called the heart fire. The prime minister fire (a yang-energy that originates from the vital gate and which is stored in the liver, gallbladder and triple-burner) assists the heart to promote the functional activities of the other organs.
The heart also possesses our Western understanding of the brain’s role in regulating the nervous, cardiovascular and endocrine functions. In addition, meridians are the pathways of qi and blood circulation, as well as the channels where the immune functions take effect, the triple burner, which is actually a collective term for the upper, middle and lower burner, (the upper burner is located above the diaphragm and includes the heart and lungs. The middle burner is located in the region above the belly button and below the diaphragm and includes the spleen and stomach. The lower burner is located below the belly button, and it includes the liver, kidneys, large intestine, small intestine and bladder) directs the various types of qi, and they act as the channel stations for body fluids to circulate. They have an important effect on immune activities.
2. Liver – to maintain
According to TCM, the liver is responsible for part of the functions of the endocrine, digestive, circulatory and immune systems. The liver promotes flowing and spreading movements; by stimulating flow, the liver adjusts and ensures the smooth flux of qi, blood and body fluids throughout the body. The Chinese believe emotional activity(The five yin organs of the human body produce five kinds of essential qi, which bring forth joy, anger, grief, worry, and fear) is an outer manifestation of the physiological status of the internal organ system, and is considered the major internal cause for diseases (endogenous evils in extreme conditions). Normal emotional health depends on the balance of qi and blood flow. Once the liver is flowing, diseases are kept out.
3. Kidneys – at the basis/root
TCM say the kidneys are the “congenital foundation of life”, the root of healthy energy. The stored kidney essence (jing) is the material basis for the entire body’s yin and yang (Yin yang theory is a kind of logic, which views things in relation to its whole and is based on two basic components: yin and yang, which are neither materials nor energy. They combine in a complementary manner and form a method for explaining relationships between objects) forces, which make the body’s physical form and functions, become balanced. The modern understanding of TCM kidneys not only regulates the urinary system, they also exercise control over the reproductive, hematological, endocrine and nervous systems. The kidneys work closely with the neural-endocrine immune regulating network.
4. Spleen – to promote
Western physiology defines the spleen as a large, vascular, lymphatic organ. TCM’s regard it as the “acquired foundation of life”; the source of blood and qi (vital energy) production. The spleen is a multi- functioning unit. It covers functions of the western anatomical spleen and pancreas and promotes activities of the digestive, endocrine, nervous and blood systems. The spleen governs transportation and transformation of body fluids and nutrient essences (also referred to as acquired essence, it is derived from foods and is necessary for the constitution of the human body and the maintenance of health and physical activities. It can be converted to essence, an essential substance needed for reproduction that is stored in the kidneys) and also controls blood flow. The spleen determines the abundance and depletion of healthy energy, assuring the body’s protection against diseases.
5. Lungs – immune-barrier
The lungs administer qi (vital energy). They connect externally with the skin and hair and disseminate protective qi (kind of qi regulated by the lungs. It flows between the skin and the muscles in order to guard against invasion by exogenous evils) over the body’s surface. The lungs’ protective qi belongs to part of the healthy energy (zheng qi); because it forms the first barrier against the invasion of exogenous pathogens (Exogenous evils or environmental pathogens are the six natural climatic factors: wind, cold, summer-heat, dampness, dryness, and fire that represent the natural conditions within which all living things exist and are not harmful under normal conditions – becoming pathogenic or disease factors when they are excessive or when sudden changes occur that cause an imbalance of yin and yang inside the body). Protective qi provides warmth and nourishment to the skin, subcutaneous tissues and muscles; it also regulates opening and closing of skin pores. When protective qi is abundant, muscles are smooth, skin is tender and subcutaneous tissues are firm.