Zang and fu organs
Energy storage and production
According to traditional Eastern therapies, organs have a dual function – their physical one and another that is concerned with the use of energy and might be termed and ‘energetic function’. The twelve organs mentioned in the traditional therapies are split into two groups known as zang and fu, and each is described below.
Zang organs are for energy storage, and the fu organs produce energy from sustenance and drink and also control excretion. The organs can be listed in pairs, each zang matched by a fu with a similar function. Although the pancreas is not specifically mentioned, it is usually included with the spleen. The same applies to the ‘triple heater’ or ‘triple burner’, which is connected with the solar plexus, lower abdomen and the thorax.
The lungs are a zang organ and are concerned with assimilation of energy, or ki, from the air, which with energy from food ensures the complete body is fed and that mental alertness and a positive attitude are maintained. This is paired with the fu organ of the large intestine, which takes sustenance from the small intestine, absorbs necessary liquids and excretes waster material via the faeces. It is also concerned with self-confidence.
The spleen is a zang organ and changes energy or ki from food into energy that is needed by the body. It is concerned with the mental functions of concentration, thinking and analyzing. This is paired with the fu organ of the stomach, which prepares food sot that nutrients can be extracted and also any energy, or ki, can be taken. It also provides ‘food for thought’. The zang organ of the heart assists blood formation from ki and controls the flow of blood and the blood vessels. It is where the mind is housed and therefore affects awareness, belief, long-term memory and feelings. This is paired with the fu organ of the small intestine, which divides food into necessary and unnecessary parts, the latter passing to the large intestine.
It is also concerned with the making of decisions. The kidneys are a zang organ and they produce basic energy, or ki, for the other five paired organs and also for reproduction, birth, development and maturity. They also sustain the skeleton and brain and provide willpower and ‘get up and go’. They are paired with the fu organ of the bladder, which stores waste fluids until they are passed as urine and also gives strength or courage. The zang organ of the ‘heart governor’ is concerned with the flow of blood throughout the body. It is a protector and help for the heart and has a bearing on relationships with other people (although there is no organ known as the ‘heart governor’; it is connected with the heart and its functions).
This is paired with the ‘triple heater’ or ‘burner’, which passes ki around the body and allows an emotional exchange with others. The liver is the sixth zang organ, and it assists with a regular flow of ki to achieve the most favourable physiological effects and emotional calmness. Positive feeling, humour, planning and creativity are also connected with it. The gall bladder is the sixth fu organ, with which the liver is paired, and this keeps bile from the liver and passes it to the intestines. It concerns decision-making and forward thinking.