The Twelve Primary Qi Channels – Part 2
Dr. Yang, Jwing-Ming
In Part 1 of the Twelve Primary Channels there is a short review of the twelve primary channels and the eight extraordinary meridians. You should know that in our body, there are six Yang organs and six Yin organs. Each Yang organ is associated with and harmonized by a Yin organ. Paired Yin and Yang organs belong to the same phase in the Five Phases. Their channels are sequential to each other in the circulation of Qi, their functions are closely related, and disease in one usually affects the other.
The Stomach Channel of Foot-Yang Brightness
The spleen (Yin) and the stomach (Yang) are paired organs. They belong to Earth in the Five Phases, the central direction, the season of long summer (the end of summer), the climactic condition of dampness, the color yellow, the emotion of pensiveness, the taste of sweetness, fragrant odor and the sound of singing. Their opening is the mouth and they control the flesh and the limbs.
The Yin/Yang relationship between the spleen and the stomach is a particularly strong example of the relationship between organs. The stomach receives food while the spleen transports nutrients. The stomach moves things downward while the spleen moves things upward. The stomach likes dampness while the spleen likes dryness.
Though there are some patterns relating to Deficiency of the Stomach (many of these originate in the spleen), most stomach disorders are caused from excess. Stomach Fire gives a painful, burning sensation in the stomach, unusual hunger, bleeding of the gums, constipation, and halitosis.
The stomach, which is located in the middle Sanjiao (Middle Triple Burner) area, is the first step in converting food into Qi. Food is dissolved in the stomach before being sent to the intestines for absorbing. The absorbed essence is then converted into Qi and circulated through the entire body.
The stomach is related to the emotion of pensiveness. When you are upset, the stomach will not function normally. In Qigong, regulating the mind is the first step to maintaining the stomach in a healthy condition. What food you eat is the second consideration. The proper amount and the proper quality of food will help you to obtain high quality Qi to circulate in your body.
The Spleen Channel of Foot—Greater Yin
The spleen (Yin) and the stomach (Yang) are paired organs. They belong to Earth in the Five Phases, the central direction, the season of long summer (the end of summer), the climactic condition of dampness, the color yellow, the emotion of pensiveness, the taste of sweetness, fragrant odor, and the sound of singing. Their opening is the mouth and they control the flesh and the limbs.
The spleen is the main organ of digestion. Its function is to transport nutrients and regulate the blood (regulate means to keep it within the channels). It is responsible for the transformation of food into nourishment.
When the spleen is weak, the body will not be able to use the nourishment available in food. This will cause general lassitude and fatigue, and a pasty complexion.
The upper abdomen is considered the province of the spleen. Deficient spleen Qi is shown by a sense of malaise or fullness in that area. Because it is required that the transportive function of the spleen distribute its Qi upward, weakness in the Spleen will usually cause diarrhea. Spleen Qi is also regarded as the Middle Qi, and it is responsible for holding the viscera in place. Insufficiency of the Middle Qi will presage prolapsed stomach, kidneys, etc. In more serious cases, the Spleen Yang Qi will be deficient, which is manifested in diarrhea, cold limbs, and abdominal pain that can be soothed by the warmth of frequent hot drinks.
If many of the above symptoms are accompanied by bleeding, especially from the digestive tract or uterus, it is called Spleen Not Controlling the Blood.
Cold and dampness harassing the spleen is a manifestation type characterized by a pent-up feeling in the chest and a bloated sensation in the abdomen, lassitude, lack of appetite and taste, a feeling of cold in the limbs, a dark yellowish hue to the skin, some edema and diarrhea or watery stool. The cold and dampness prevent the spleen from performing its transforming and transporting functions. This leads to a great disturbance in water metabolism and is one of the origins of phlegm.
In Qigong training, one of the final goals is to regulate the Qi flow to its original (normal) level in the five Yin Organs. Among them, the spleen is the last and the hardest organ to regulate. It is believed that if you are able to regulate the Qi in your spleen to a normal and healthy condition, you will have grasped the key to health and longevity.
The Heart Channel of Hand—Lesser Yin
The heart and the small intestine are paired organs. The heart is considered Yin, and the small intestine is considered Yang, balancing this paired channel. These two organs correspond to Fire in the Five Phases, the southerly direction, the summer season, the climactic condition of heat, the color red, the emotion of happiness, the sound of laughter, the taste of bitterness, the odor of burning. Their point of entry is the tongue; they control the blood vessels and are reflected in the face.
Almost all of the problems and disorders of the heart are associated with weakness. The four major types of Heart weakness are Deficient Heart Qi, Deficient Heart Yang, Deficient Heart Blood, and Deficient Heart Yin.
The main functions of the heart are associated with the spirit and the blood vessels. The heart governs the blood vessels and is responsible for moving blood through them. It also stores the spirit, and is the organ usually associated with mental processes. Therefore, some forms of emotional distress, dizziness, palpitations, shortness of breath, and lack of vitality are common to the heart’s diseases. General lassitude, panting and shallow breathing, and frequent sweating symbolize deficient Heart Qi. If the face is swollen to an ashen gray or bluish-green and the limbs are cold, it is called Deficient Heart Yang. The symptoms of restlessness, irritability, dizziness, absent mindedness, and insomnia are typical signs of Deficient Heart Blood. In Deficient Heart Yin cases, developments with a flushed feeling in the palms and face, low-grade fever, and night sweating will occur.
The symptom of Heart Excess arises from an excess of Heart Fire. This is manifested by fever, occasionally accompanied by delirium, a racking pulse, intense restlessness, insomnia or frequent nightmares, a bright red face, a red or blistered and painful tongue, and often a burning sensation during urination. The latter symptom interferes with the small intestine’s role in metabolism and the body’s management of water.
In Qigong society, it is believed that the mind is associated with the heart and that it is also directly related to the spirit. The term Heart (Xin) is usually used to represent the emotional mind or idea. The Middle Dan Tian at the solar plexus is considered the residence of the Fire Qi. This fire is used to nourish the brain and the spirit (Shen) at its residence, the Upper Dan Tian or third eye. In Chinese medicine it is said that the heart is the temple of the spirit because it supplies Fire Qi and can nourish the spirit without limit.
Generally speaking, the heart is very sensitive during the summertime. The heart is a Yin channel and when the summer Yang comes it can increase the heart’s Qi level and cause problems. Emotional disturbances, such as excitement from happiness, are considered harmful to the heart as well, especially during the summertime. Qigong emphasizes regulating the heart in the summer.
Small Intestine Channel of Hand—Greater Yang
The heart and the small intestine are paired organs. The heart is considered Yin, and the small intestine is considered Yang, balancing this paired channel. These two organs correspond to Fire in the Five Phases, the southerly direction, the summer season, the climactic condition of heat, the color red, the emotion of happiness, the sound of laughter, the taste bitterness, the odor of burning. Their point of entry is the tongue. They control the blood vessels and are reflected in the face.
The major function of the small intestine is to separate waste material from the nutritious elements in food. The nutritious elements are then distributed throughout the body and the waste is sent on to the large intestine.
The small and large intestines are located in the Lower Dan Tian. In order to store the original Qi converted from original essence, the abdomen must be healthy and the Qi circulation in the area of the intestines must be smooth and natural. The best way to reach this goal is through abdominal breathing exercises. One such exercise is to lead the Original Qi upward following the heart and small intestine Qi channels to cool down the Heart Fire.