Zang-fu viscera

Zang-fu viscera

Zang-fu viscera (zh-stp|s=脏腑|t=臟腑|p=zàngfǔ), in visceral manifestations (zh-s|脏象), are organs contained within the human body, is the common name of five zang viscera (zh-s|五脏), six fu viscera (zh-s|六腑), and extraordinary fu-viscera (zh-s|奇恒之腑).

Zang-Fu theory is a concept within traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) that describes the functions of the organs of the body and the interactions that occur between them. Zang 臟 refers to the yin organs - heart, liver, spleen, lung, kidney, pericardium - whilst Fu 腑 refers to the yang organs - small intestine, large intestine, gall bladder, urinary bladder, stomach and san jiao. Each of the twelve zang-fu organs listed have a corresponding organ, except the pericardium and san jiao which both describe functions that are not related to an organ. As convention, the names of the zang fu organs are often capitalized to highlight the fact that the organs being referred to are not equivalent to those of western medicine, despite the similarity in names. Each zang is paired with a fu, and each pair are assigned to one of the five elements.

Major differences between Zang Fu anatomy and western anatomy

To understand Zang Fu theory, it is important to realize that TCM anatomy did not develop primarily out of anatomical studies (i.e. dissections of cadavers), as did western notions of anatomy. The need to describe a function carried out in the body was more important to ancient physicians than opening up the body and seeing what different parts there were. Consequently, fundamental concepts of TCM anatomy such as meridians can seem metaphorical and elusive to the western audience.

The organs themselves are characterized not by anatomical position but by a general function within the system as a whole that may not necessarily correspond to any western anatomical account. The functions of the organs are described with respect to their roles and connections throughout the body, including meridians, Qi (vital force), Shen (mind, attention, focus or spirit), Jing (TCM) (essence), Xue (blood), and "fluids."

Moreover, western notions of the organs are often carried into the translations of the original Chinese concepts. There are two organs in the system that don't actually occupy a specific location in the body and can only be understood in terms of their function: the pericardium, and the triple burner. In western Medicine, the pericardium is a literal sac of membrane that encases the heart. In the Zang Fu system, the "role" of the 'pericardium' is to protect the heart. So, translators assumed Chinese physicians were talking about the sac when in fact they were not. The triple burner has no correlate in western medicine and is often described as global immune function.

The functions of the organs

The organs dynamically regulate each other cyclically. Each organ has two corresponding organs that it is responsible for either negatively or positively regulating. The manner in which the organs interact with each other is described by five-element theory. Each organ is associated with one of the five elements, and behaves appropriately with respect to that element (when the individual is healthy). Organ regulatory systems, with respect to the elements, to the Yin organs or the yang organs. The Yin and Yang organs relate to each other primarily in resonating energies. For example, the kidneys and the bladder are the yin and yang water organs, respectively, and resonate with each other. One does not really regulate the other, they work together.

The "five elements" are associated energetically with the following "Zang-Fu" organs

* "Wood": "Liver", home of the "Hun" (魂, Ethereal Soul), paired with the "Gall bladder"
* "Fire": "Heart", home of the "Shen" (神, Aggregate Soul) paired with the "Small intestine" (and secondarily, the "San Jiao" or "Triple burner" and "Pericardium")
* "Earth": "Spleen", home of the "Yi" (意?, Intellect), paired with the "Stomach"
* "Water": "Kidney", home of the "Zhi" (志?, Will), paired with the "Bladder"
* "Metal": "Lung", home of the "Po" (魄, Corporeal Soul), paired with the "Large intestine"

TCM diagnoses rely on recognizing global patterns of disfunction in the patient, explainable in terms of five element theory and yin-yang theory. A thorough understanding of each organ's function and symptoms of disfunction will give insight into the process of disease and illness according to TCM.

Classic Zang Xiang

Yin organs


Metal. home of the "Po" (魄, Corporeal Soul), paired with the "Large intestine"

The function of the Lung is to descend and disperse qi throughout the body. It receives qi through the breath, and exhales the waste. The Lung governs the skin and hair and also governs the exterior (one part of immunity). A properly functioning Lung organ will ensure the skin and hair are of good quality and that the immune system is strong and able to fight disease. The normal direction of the Lung is downwards, when Lung qi "rebels" it goes upwards, causing coughing and wheezing. When the Lung is weak, there can be skin conditions such as eczema, thin or brittle hair, and a propensity to catching colds and flu. The Lung is weakened by dryness and the emotion of grief or sadness.


Wood. home of the "Hun" (魂, Ethereal Soul), paired with the "Gall bladder"

The function of the Liver is to ensure the smooth flow of qi throughout the body. The liver opens to the eyes and manifests in the finger and toe nails. It also governs the sinews and tendons. A properly functioning Liver organ will ensure that the tendons are properly nourished and not too tense or gristly. The normal direction of Liver qi is downwards, when Liver qi "rebels" it can attack the Spleen causing nausea and poor appetite, it can rebel upwards causing tenseness in the shoulders and headaches, or it can stop flowing and become stagnant - leading to irritability and anger. When the Liver is dysfunctional there can be conditions such as headaches, premenstrual symptoms, tense muscles, loss of appetite, insomnia, anger, irritability and frustration. Liver blood stagnation may lead to amenorrhea, blood clotting, or a bearing down sensation with menstruation.


Earth. Home of the "Yi" (意?, Intellect), paired with the "Stomach"

The function of the Spleen is to transform food and drink into qi and blood and transport these substances around the body. The Spleen governs the extremities, the muscles, and the four extremities. When the Spleen is functioning well, digestion will be good, the muscles will be strong and circulation will be efficient. When the Spleen is weak there can be nausea, this often occurs when the Liver "attacks" the Spleen. Cold hands and feet, lack of muscle tone, easy bruising and poor concentration/overthinking can be signs that the Spleen is weak. The Spleen is weakened by dampness.


Water. Home of the "Zhi" (志?, Will), paired with the "bladder"

The Kidneys store Essence, govern birth, growth, reproduction and development. They also produce the Marrow which fills the brain and control the bones. The Kidneys are often referred to as the 'Root of Life' or the 'Root of the Pre-Heaven Qi'. Kidneys house the Will Power (Zhi).


Fire. Home of the "Shen" (神, Aggregate Soul) paired with the "Small intestine"

The Heart is considered to be the most important Internal Organ, sometimes described as the 'ruler', 'emperor' or monarch. The main function of the Heart is to govern the blood, which it does in two ways: transforming Food-Qi into Blood, and circulating the Blood just the same as in Western Medicine.


Fire. Paired with the "San Jiao" or "Triple burner"

The pericardium is closely related to the Heart. Known as 'Master of the Heart' (Xin Zhu) and 'Envelope of the Heart' (Xin Bao). The pericardium protects the heart from attacks by exterior pathogenic factors. Like the Heart, the Pericardium governs Blood and houses the Mind. The Pericardium as a channel is also linked to the Triple Burner: 'The Triple Burner protects the Internal Organs on the outside and the Pericardium protects the Heart on the outside'. The pericardium, in the zang fu system, does not occupy a particular position in the body (i.e. it is not the same "pericardium" described by western medicine).

Yang organs

Large intestine


The function of the Large Intestine is to control the passage and conduction of stools. In the process, it transforms the stools and reabsorbs fluids from them. It receives food and drink from the Small Intestine, conducts the food and drink down, and after absorbing some of the fluids, it excretes the stools. The Large Intestine is closely related to the Lungs, in the way that Lung Qi aids in its downward movement, therefore influencing defecation. As the Lungs control the skin, the Large Intestine also has influence on it.

Gall bladder


Urinary bladder




mall intestine


Triple Burner (San jiao)


Modern Zang Xiang

The end of last century, the beginning of this century, scholars Deng Yu et al have found that traditional Chinese medicine invented a new theory on the basis of modern law, such as fractal meridians, Chinese medicine fractal sets, the third Chinese medicine philosophy: a similar concept - Fractal concept, then create a , As the Zangxiang of modern thinking and concepts of the new system, that is, Zangxiang of fractal as five systems: heart, lung, liver, Renal, and spleen of the five sub-systems.


The heart (HEART SYSTEM, series): The Chinese medicine heart system (hypothesized) the fractal dissection structure usually is divided two parts; first, the main blood vessels' similar western medicine circulatory system, take the heart and so on as " the spot ", blood vessel (and thoughts. Note: Because the channels and collaterals only discover at present have clinical, two-dimensional distribution; Dissected the three dimensional substantive channels and collaterals not to find, therefore only used the parenthesis expression) and so on is " the line ", connected the whole body, the small intestine, “its China in the surface”, “in qiao was the tongue " macroscopic fractal Chinese medicine " heart system "; Another part is the main state of mind brain, the nerve energetic system, take the brain as " the point", the nerve ties, the nerve fiber is " the line " integrated system, with the aid of blood vessel blood, nerve, channels and collaterals and so on whole five line of fractal, vertical - horizontal, the sub-- mother relates, line " main state of mind " and other control function.

Lung system

the lung (LUNG HIERARCHY): Chinese medicine lung system's dissection: Take the lung as " the point", , the nose (mouth), the trachea, the bronchial tube, the minor cycle (pulmonary circulation) the  blood vessel (with lung after) and so on is " the line ", passes the skin, the Chinese wool, “gathers the skin in the body, its China in the wool”, straightens out Yu Bi the fractal structure. Its part of dissections and a function close doctor practicing western medicine respiratory system's main part. The main gas, the department breathes; The host proclaims sends with austere falls; Passes adjusts the canal; Toward hundred arteries, mainly treats the festival.

Spleen system

the spleen (SPLEEN HIERARCHY): The spleen department's dissection is by the doctor practicing western medicine digesting system dissection primarily, from the mouth - esophagus to the stomach,  take the stomach and intestines spleen pancreas (liver) and so on as " the spot ", on intestines' blood vessel (and the spleen after) and so on is " the line ", understands the muscle " to gather the meat in the body, the main four limbs ", straighten out in the mouth, reaches the lip, its China in lip. The host transports, rises clear, series blood.

liver system

Hepatocytes (lines. LIVER SET (HIERARCHY)): Western medicine to the liver, bile (intestine; digestive system, and metabolism. Form) as the "point", intestines, liver and blood vessels (and by the liver) and so on "Line" , A tendon, the claw-hua, fails to grasp the situation head on. Shuxie the main, blood possession, possession of the soul.

Kidney system

the kidney (KIDNEY SYSTEM(HIERARCHY)): Take doctor practicing western medicine's and so on kidney urogenital systems primarily " the spot ", is connected with the kidney the blood vessel which and extends (and kidney after)  and so on as " the line ", gathers the bone, lives the marrow, the joint tooth, passes the brain, China sends, in qiao for ear and two cloudy. Main Tibet essence, growth, growth and reproduction and so on. Has the heredity in microscopic and the modern biology, the molecular biology, DNA and so on biology or the cell totipotency (the total information, fractal. Pluripotent) microscopic structure or information and so on fractal.

Association between the zangfu and particular souls

The association between the zangfu and particular souls or spirits is a later accretion and has been largely absent from the discourse of traditional Chinese medicine for at least the past 200 years.

This theory treats each of the Zang organs as organs that nourish the body. The Zang systems include organs, senses, emotions, and themusculoskeletal system--essentially, the entire person divided into fivecategorical systems. Zang organs are also known as yin organs, and each has a Fu partner, a yang organ (see Yin Yang). Fu organs can be viewed as hollow organs that aid in digestion. In addition to bodily functions, each Zang organ is the home of an aspect of the spirit.

With a thorough understanding of the Zang Fu organs, practitioners can achieve therapeutic results accordingly. The theory is always in service of practical, therapeutic application, with the goal of an "elegant" treatment. An elegant treatment uses the least amount of force for the greatest therapeutic benefit, and requires true mastery of the art of traditional Chinese Medicine.


Some scholars have characterized the conceptual framework of TCM as pseudoscientific.

Proponents reply that TCM is a prescientific system that continues to have practical relevance.

See .

ee also

*Five elements
*Four Temperaments
*Traditional Chinese medicine


# Kaptchuk, T (2000). "The Web That Has No Weaver: Understanding Chinese Medicine, 2nd ed." Mcgraw-Hill. []

External links

* [ The Zang Fu] Information on the Zang Fu Organs, including functions, detailed pathologies and pathology flowcharts.
* [ Syndrome differentiation according to zang-fu] - Chinese medicine diagnosis on organ diseases.

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