Acumeridian Understanding of Organ Systems and Emotions
Traditional Chinese Medicine sees "organs" as functional systems
Here are overviews of the 12 main organ systems described in TCM. These have functions that differ often greatly from the western medical understanding of the ways the organs function. The energies of emotions are affected by the health of the organ systems. Acumeridian theory is therefore a separate and often very important way to look at a person's life and health.
Recent scientific correlations of emotions with physical health add to the evidence that the autonomic nervous system is affected by the acumeridian system.
You are invited to study this information and to explore some of the related internet sites that, for instance, give help with self-acupressure. After assessment with the AcuGraph, for example, I may give you personalized instructions for self-acupressure to help you with your current health situation.
The 12 main organ systems, in order of their daily circadian energy sequence:
Related concept: Chronoacupuncture (with software, including for iPhone).
You may also want to see the chart of tooth-organ-emotion meridian relationships.
This is a picture of an intricate diagram by
acupuncture educator Tyme. [Amazon.com listing]
The following information is from IBIS (Interactive Body-Mind Information System), and from the AcuGraph Digital Meridian Imaging library of information ["Copyright Miridia Technology, Inc., used with written permission"]. For study of acupoints see the site: www.AcuXO.com (pronounced, "Acu-Ex-Oh").
Lung [peak energy 3-5 a.m.]
• Lung ~ Fei houses the Po (Corporeal Soul); governs the Qi; facilitates the immune function by assisting the dispersal of the Wei (Protective) Qi; regulates the rhythm of respiration, the pulse and all bodily processes; relates to strength and sustainability; moves and adjusts fluid metabolism; includes the throat; opens at the nose; extends through the skin, controls the pores, and manifests through the body hair.
» Healthy expressions are righteousness and courage.
» Weakness, dysfunction and illness associated with excessive grief, sadness, worry and depression.
» Lung Xu (Deficiency) signs include cold shoulder and back; changing complexion; and inability to sleep (Seem, p. 28); shortness of breath; changes in urine color; rumbling in the bowels with loose bowel movements; pallor; malar flush; chills; sniffles; sneezing; light cough; and sensitivity to cold. Chronic Lung Yin Xu (Deficiency) increases susceptibility to rising Heat and acute Shi (Excess) conditions such as Phlegm, Wind, Heat and Cold.
» Lung Shi (Excess) signs include panting; yawning; sneezing (Seem, p. 28); pain the upper back, shoulder and chest; colds with stuffed nose; hoarseness; wheezing respiration; frequent urination with small amounts; heavy chest; reduced lung capacity; coughing; and nasal discharge.
that are future directed (Excess); and a feeling of being vulnerable Xu (Deficiency). (Seem, p. 27)
» When the Lung is exhausted, one dreams of white objects, cruel killing of people.
(from "Simple Questions" as translated in Maciocia, p. and Ni, p. 161)
» When the Lung is in excess, in dreams one will be frightened in dreams, cry or soar through the air.
(from "Spiritual Axis" as translated in Maciocia, p. and Ni, p. 161)
» When the Lung is in extreme difficulty, "one dreams of soaring through the air or sees strange objects made out of metal." (Ni, p. 161)
Lung [AcuGraph condensed version]
Large Intestine [peak energy 5-7 a.m.]
• Large Intestine ~ Da Chang absorbs water; governs transformation and conveyance of waste from food to form stool; is paired with the Lung and relates to strength and sustainability as the Yang aspect of Metal.
» Weakness, dysfunction and illness associated with sadness, grief and worry. Worry depletes the Lung Qi which fails to descend and assist the Large Intestine in its functions.
» Healthy expressions are righteousness and courage.
» Large Intestine Xu (Deficiency) signs include skin eruptions; itching; cold; difficulty warming up (Seem, p. 29); shivering; rumbling in the bowels; and diarrhea.
» Large Intestine Shi (Excess) signs include dry mouth; parched lips; hot body (Seem, p. 29); warmth and swelling along the course of the channel; distended abdomen; dizziness; constipation; and yellow-orange urine.
» Stagnation of Qi in the Large Intestine produces spastic abdominal pain and constipation with small stools alternating with diarrhea.
"Worry depletes Lung Qi which fails to descend and to help the Large Intestine in its functions. This results in stagnation of Qi in the Large Intestine, with the ensuing symptoms of abdominal pain and constipation with bitty stools alternating with diarrhea". (Maciocia, p. 277)
When the Large Intestine is weak, one dreams of fields and rural landscapes
(from "Spiritual Axis" as translated in Maciocia, p. 115)
Large Intestine: [AcuGraph condensed version]
Stomach [peak energy 7-9 a.m.]
• Stomach ~ Wei is the Sea of Nourishment and origin of all fluids; transforms and digests food so that the Spleen can separate the distilled food essences; with the Spleen, is the root of post-natal Qi; and as Earth relates to ability to assimilate, stabilize, feel centered and balanced.
» Healthy expressions are fairness, openness and nurturance.
» Weakness, dysfunction and illness associated with worry, anxiety and overthinking. Worry will cause Stagnation of Qi in the Stomach and will manifest with a niggling, burning pain, belching and nausea. Excessive mental work over a period of years leads to Xu (Deficiency) of Stomach Qi. Anger, frustration and resentment affect the Stomach indirectly through Liver Qi Stagnation which invades the Stomach. (Maciocia, p. 267)
» Stomach Xu (Deficiency) signs include slow digestion; vomiting after meals; painful eyebrows; emotionality; teariness; sadness; cold feet (Seem, p. 28); cold and shivering in the abdominal area; abdomen swollen and full; gastritis; loss of appetite; diarrhea; nausea; and leg weakness. Stomach Yin Xu (Deficiency) increases the susceptibility to Stomach Fire.
nal area; overactive digestive system causing hunger and thirst; dark yellow urine; gluttony; halitosis; swollen gums; red dry lips; pains and cramps in legs.
» Mental signs of Stomach channel disorders include depression, death wishes, instability, suicidal tendencies, mentally overwrought, doubt, suspicions, tendency to mania, and slowness at assimilating ideas. (Seem, p. 27)
When the Stomach is weak, one dreams of having a large meal.
(from "Spiritual Axis" as translated in Maciocia, p. 113)
Stomach: [AcuGraph condensed version]
Spleen [peak energy 9-11 a.m.]
• Spleen ~ Pi houses Yi (Thought); governs digestion and manifests in the muscle tissues; includes the functions ascribed to the pancreas; transforms food into Xue (Blood) and Qi; governs the Xue (Blood) and holds it in the vessels; resolves Dampness and Phlegm; maintains upbearing; and relates to the ability to assimilate, stabilize, feel centered and balanced.
» Healthy expressions are fairness, openness, deep thinking and reminiscence.
» Spleen Xu (Deficiency) signs include slightness (deficient "form"); abundant elimination; morning fatigue; cold, wet feet (Seem, p. 28); abdomen taut and distended like a drum; craving for sweets; flatulence; nausea; mild edema; memory failure; heavy feeling in legs; pale lips; loose stools; muscular weakness; and eventually obesity. Unresolved Spleen Xu (Deficiency) predisposes to Spleen Shi (Excess), particularly accumulation of Dampness and Phlegm, as the Spleen's functioning declines. The Heat produced by Liver Stagnation may then transform the Dampness into Damp-Heat. Xu (Deficiency) of the Spleen increases the susceptibility to "invasion" by the Liver.
» Spleen Shi (Excess) signs include heaviness (excess "form"); large abdomen; great sighing; sadness; obsessions and nightmares (Seem, p. 28); abdominal pain; irregular appetite; stickiness in the mouth and on lips; red lips; chest congestion; fatigue; and constipation. Dampness and Phlegm Shi (Excess) usually derive from Spleen Yang and/or Qi Xu (Deficiency).
aciocia, p. 241) Likewise, inadequate physical exercise, and excess consumption of sweet and Cold foods will also deplete the Spleen. Environmentally, the Spleen is highly susceptible to attack from external Dampness and Cold.
» Mental signs of Spleen channel disorders include mental sluggishness; vertigo; melancholia; obsessions turned toward the past; fixed and rigid ideas; sleepwalking; agitated sleep; and nightmares. (Seem, p. 27)
When the Spleen is weak, one dreams of being hungry; during the late Summer, one dreams of building a house.
(from "Simple Questions" as translated in Maciocia, p. 92)
When the Spleen is in excess, one dreams of "singing and being very heavy,... of abysses in mountains and marshes".
(from "Spiritual Axis" as translated in Maciocia, p. 92)
Spleen: [AcuGraph condensed version]
Heart [peak energy 11 a.m.-1 p.m.]
• Heart ~ Xin houses the Shen (Spirit/Mind) and reveals itself through the brightness in the eyes; governs Fire and Heat; rules the Xue (Blood) and its vessels and directs the circulation; opens into the tongue and controls speech; and relates to the integration of the organs and the personality.
» Healthy expressions are warmth, vitality, excitement, inner peace, love and joy.
» Heart Xu (Deficiency) signs include sadness; absence of laughter; depression; fear; anxiety; shortness of breath (Seem, p. 28); cold feeling in the chest and limbs; palpitations; cold sweat; inability to speak; memory failure; nocturnal emissions; and restless sleep. Chronic Yin Xu (Deficiency) predisposes to Empty Fire, acute and chronic.
» Heart Shi (Excess) signs include false or facile laughter; sobbing; agitated spirit; insomnia (Seem, p. 28); frightful dreams; anxiety; tongue feels numb and heavy; heavy chest; hot sweat; and orange colored urine.
» The Heart is the Emperor of the bodily realm so that when the Heart is disturbed all the other organs will be disrupted.
When the Heart is weak, one dreams of fires; during the summer one dreams of volcanic eruptions.
(from "Simple Questions" as translated in Maciocia, p. 75)
When the Heart is weak, one dreams of mountains, fire and smoke.
(from "Spiritual Axis" as translated in Maciocia, p. 75)
When the Heart is in excess, one dreams of laughing.
(from "Spiritual Axis" as translated in Maciocia, p. 75)
Heart: [AcuGraph condensed version]
Small Intestine [peak energy 1-3 p.m.]
• Small Intestine ~ Xiao Chang receives and transforms food by separating the Clear (Pure) from the Turbid (Impure), with the Clear becoming bodily fluids and the Turbid becoming urine - this function also operates on the emotional, mental and spiritual levels; regulates quality of Xue (Blood); is responsible for digestion and nutrient absorption; with the Heart, is responsible for sweating; and opens into the tongue.
» Healthy expressions are love, joy and the ability to discriminate; and, as the Princely Fire, warmth, vitality, excitement.
» The Small Intestine is affected by sadness which grips a person and destroys the mental clarity and capacity of sound judgment for which this organ is responsible. (Maciocia, p. 273) Weakness, dysfunction and illness are associated with cruelty, hate, indiscretion and impatience.
» Small Intestine Xu (Deficiency) signs include bluish lips with white border, emaciation, profuse sweating (Seem, p. 29); swellings of nodules; hemicrania; tinnitus; pain around the ear; and pain depressing the abdomen.
» Small Intestine Shi (Excess) signs include happiness, joviality, scarlet complexion (Seem, p. 29); congested abdomen; pain at temples and sides of neck; flaccidity of muscles and joints in the arms; especially the elbows; and reddish urine.
» Mental signs of Small Intestine channel disorders include poor mental assimilation, a feeling of mental deficiency due to inability to assimilate ideas, and insecurity. (Seem, p. 27)
When the Small Intestine is weak, one dreams of large cities.
(from "Spiritual Axis" as translated in Maciocia, p. 115)
When one has small intestinal parasites, in dreams one dreams of crowd; with long intestinal parasites, one dreams of large cities.
(from "Simple Questions" as translated in Maciocia, p. 115)
Small Intestine: [AcuGraph condensed version]
Urinary Bladder [peak energy 3-5 p.m.]
• Pang Guang ~ Chinese "Bladder" receives the "dirty" part of fluids after Small Intestine separates them from the "clean" fluids; is in charge of Qi transformation, i.e. transforming and excreting fluids by the power of Qi; and controls the storing of fluid.
» Fear, or more exactly fright, adversely effects the Bladder. In children, fear or insecurity leads to sinking of Qi in the Bladder resulting in nocturnal enuresis. In adults, Bladder disharmonies are often manifested with feelings of suspicion and jealousy over a long period of time. (Maciocia, p. 287-288)
» Bladder Xu (Deficiency) signs include lack of confidence; lethargy; neurological disorders; low sexual energy; incontinence (Seem, p. 29); epistaxis; frequent excessive urination; back pain; nocturnal enuresis; and fear.
» Bladder Shi (Excess) signs include agitation, excessive erections, prostatitis, frequent and urgent need to defecate, headaches on defecation (Seem, p. 29); headache; olfactory problems; pain along spine or waist; congestion in abdomen; insufficient and cloudy urine.
» Mental signs of Bladder channel disorders include changeable moods, over-enthusiasm, suspicion, jealousy, lack of confidence, and mental lassitude. (Seem, p. 28)
When the Bladder is weak, one dreams of voyages. (from "Spiritual Axis" as translated in Maciocia, p. 117)
Urinary Bladder: [AcuGraph condensed version]
Kidney [peak energy 5-7 p.m.]
• Kidney ~ Shen stores Jing (Essence) and governs birth, growth, reproduction, development and aging; houses the Zhi (Will Power); expresses ambition and focus; governs Water to regulate body fluids; provides the "Fire of Life" through its Yang functions for the digestive processes and the functions ascribed to the adrenals; provides the nourishing and stabilizing qualities of Yin and Water that balance the Yang and the Fiery qualities of the Heart; controls the bones, particularly the lumbar spine and knees; produces the Marrow which generates the spinal cord, "fills up" the brain, and possibly manifests through the immune system; nourishes the brain to sustain concentration, clear thinking and memory; facilitates inspiration by grasping and pulling down the Qi of the breath; relates particularly to congenital or chronic conditions because it carries the constitutional endowment from the parents; manifests through the reproductive function, particularly the internal aspects of the reproductive organs and governs the process of passing on life to offspring; manifests through the teeth, head hair, ears and equilibrium; and displays the effects of sexual dissipation (esp. excessive ejaculation), overwork, aging, chronic debilitation or degenerative processes, and extreme stress.
» Healthy expressions are gentleness, groundedness and endurance.
» Kidney Xu (Deficiency) signs include indecisiveness; confused speech; dreams of trees submerged under water; cold feet and legs; abundant sweating (Seem, p. 28); fearfulness; apathy; chronic fatigue; discouragement; scatteredness; lack of will; negativity; impatience; difficult inhalation; low sex drive; lumbago; sciatica; and musculoskeletal irritation and inflammation, esp. when worse from touch. As always, chronic Yin Xu (Deficiency) predisposes to Empty Heat and/or acute inflammation.
» Intense or prolonged fear depletes the Kidney. Often chronic anxiety may induce Xu (Deficiency) and then Fire within the Kidney. (Maciocia, p. 250) Overwork, sexual dissipation, parenting, simple aging, and a sedentary or excessively indulgent lifestyle all contribute significantly to Kidney Xu (Deficiency).
difficulty undoing one's belt; and hot, heavy painful legs. (Seem, p. 28)
» Mental signs of Kidney channel disorders include anxiety, fear in the pit of the stomach; sadness; mental and physical fatigue; antisocial tendencies; and laziness. (Seem, p. 28)
When the Kidneys are weak, one dreams of drowning men and swimming after a shipwreck; if the dream takes place in winter, one dreams of plunging in water and being scared.
(from "Simple Questions" as translated in Maciocia, p. 100 and Ni, p. 162)
When the Kidneys are in excess, in dreams one feels like the back and waist are split apart and that the spine is detached from the body ... when they are weak, one dreams of approaching a ravine, plunging into the water, and being immersed in water.
(from "Spiritual Axis" as translated in Maciocia, p. 100 and Ni, p. 162)
Kidney: [AcuGraph condensed version]
Circulation/Sex (also called "Pericardium") [peak energy 7-9 p.m.]
• Pericardium ~ Xin Bao is the Minister who protects the Heart, the Emperor, and maintains the order of the Heart energy; and as such may be adversely affected by emotional stresses internally or invasion of Heat externally. The Pericardium is said to be the origin of joy and sadness.
» Healthy expressions are joy, happiness and healthy relationships.
» Weakness, dysfunction and illness are associated with confusion, delirium, nervousness and psychosis.
» Mental signs of Pericardium channel disorders include depression, sexual perversion, aversions, and phobias. (Seem, p. 28)
Pericardium: [AcuGraph condensed version]
Triple Warmer (also called "San Jiao") [peak energy 9-11 p.m.]
• San Jiao ~ Triple Warmer regulates the relations among the three regions roughly delimited by the chest, abdomen and pelvis; influences the supply of Blood, Qi and Fluids; is the source of Wei (Protective) Qi; and relates to the function of heat regulation.
» Mental signs of Triple Warmer channel disorders include emotional upsets caused by breaking of friendships or family relations, depression, suspicion, anxiety, poor elimination of harmful thoughts. (Seem, p. 28)
Triple Energizer: [AcuGraph condensed version]
following emotional factors: the ability to feel and express positive emotions.
Gallbladder [peak energy 11 p.m.-1 a.m.]
• Gall Bladder ~ Dan is the source of courage and initiative; is responsible for decision-making as the bodily Minister of Justice; controls circulation of the nourishing and protecting energies (Ying Qi and Wei Qi); expresses itself through the sinews (ligaments and tendons); and opens into the eyes. Its channel purifies Yang energy in the body.
» Healthy expressions are kindness, decisiveness, control and spirit of initiative.
» Gall Bladder Xu (Deficiency) signs include insomnia; wandering pains; chest and side pains; swollen breasts (Seem, p. 29); weakness in muscles and tendons of the legs; difficulty standing; asthenia; vertigo; chills; timidity; cowardice; indecisiveness; and excessive sighing.
» Gall Bladder Shi (Excess) signs include tiredness; sighing; irritability; bitter taste in the mouth in the morning; pain in all joints; edematous knees and legs (Seem, p. 29); tinnitus; lateral headache; heaviness in head and stomach; muscular spasms; and limbs slightly cold. Chronically suppressed anger can implode and give rise to Fire in the Liver and Gall Bladder.
» Anger, frustration and resentment can cause Stagnation of Liver Qi which, in turn, can produce Heat which affects the Gall Bladder.
» Mental signs of Gall Bladder channel disorders include bitterness, lack of control, irritability, unfaithfulness, lack of courage, timidity, and hypochondria. (Seem, p. 28)
When the Gall Bladder is weak, one dreams of fights, trials, and suicide.
(from "Spiritual Axis" as translated in Maciocia, p. 116)
Gallbladder: [AcuGraph condensed version]
Liver [peak energy 1-3 a.m.]
• Liver ~ Gan houses the Hun (Ethereal Soul); relates to decisiveness, control and the principle of emergence; stores and cleanses the Xue (Blood); maintains smooth flow of Qi and Xue (Blood); controls the muscles, ligaments and tendons, esp. the contractility of the muscles and moistening of the sinews; has an intimate relationship with the genitals and Lower Warmer; opens into the eyes; and expresses itself in the fingernails, toenails and nervous system; and reflects emotional harmony and movement.
» Healthy expressions are kindness, spontaneity and ease of movement.
» Liver Xu (Deficiency) signs include impotence; frigidity; pain in thighs, pelvic region, and throat; ready tendency to "the blahs" (Seem, p. 28); timidity; depression; irritability; vertigo; pruritus; dry eyes, skin and/or tendons; asthma; aching at the waist; hernia; and difficulty raising head up and down. Liver Blood Xu (Deficiency) predisposes to Xue Yu (Blood Stasis) and Xue (Blood) Heat. Liver Yin Xu (Deficiency) predisposes to Shi (Excess) conditions of Liver Wind, Liver Yang Rising and Liver Fire Blazing.
» Tumors and other masses are considered a form of Xue Yu (Blood Stasis) and thus are ultimately derived from Qi Stagnation. Liver Qi Stagnation reflects and accentuates emotional constraint as the Liver's function of facilitating smooth flow in the body is constricted. Stagnation is associated with frustration, irritability, tension, and feeling stuck. With time this pattern tends to produce a gloomy emotional state of constant resentment, repressed anger or depression, along with tightness in the chest, frequent sighing, abdominal tension or distension, and/or a feeling of a lump in the throat with difficulty in swallowing. (Maciocia, p. 216) Liver Qi Stagnation often combines with Liver Shi (Excess) to "invade" the Stomach and Spleen. Xue Yu (Blood Stasis) often begins with Qi Stagnation.
» Liver Shi (Excess) signs include discontent; anger; priapism; pain in lumbar region and genitals (Seem, p. 28); muscular tension; excessive sex drive; insomnia; moodiness; excitability; genital diseases; red tearing eyes; compulsive energy; and bitter taste in the mouth. Chronically suppressed anger can implode and give rise to Fire in the Liver and Gall Bladder with symptoms of irritability, bitter taste, headaches, etc., and a tendency to "invade" the Stomach, Spleen and Intestines.
es, itching and neurological problems. Wind can also be internalized after exposure to inclimate, esp. windy, weather and any concomitant influences of Damp, Cold and/or Heat.
» Mental signs of Liver channel disorders include irritability; difficulty developing ideas; depression; and lack of energy. (Seem, p. 28)
"The Liver stores Blood and is the residence of the Ethereal Soul (Hun) . If the Liver is the deficient there is fear, if it is in excess there is anger." "Classic of Categories" (1624) (Zhang Jie Bin, p. 285)
When the Liver is weak, one dreams of "very fragrant mushrooms"; during the Spring, one dreams of "lying under a tree without being able to get up."
(from "Simple Questions" as translated in Maciocia, p. 81)
When the Liver is weak, one dreams of "forests in the mountains"; (from "Spiritual Axis" as translated in Maciocia, p. 81)
When the Liver is in excess, in dreams one feels angry.
(from "Simple Questions" as translated in Maciocia, p. 81)
Liver: [AcuGraph condensed version]