As I mentioned before, in Chinese medicine the organs are not just the physical organ, they encompass an emotional and spiritual aspect. They are referred to as the Zang-Fu Organs. Zang means solid and Fu means hollow. So, logically enough, they are divided into Solid organs (Heart, Liver, Kidney, Spleen and Lung) and the Hollow organs (Large Intestines, Small Intestines, Pericardium, GallBladder, Bladder and Stomach). The Zang organs are considered more Yin and the Fu organs are considered more Yang. There are also 6 extraordinary organs and those are: brain, bone marrow, blood vessels, uterus, bones and GallBladder (yup, it doubles!).
I love the Heart and it is the "Emperor", so we will begin with that organ. The Heart is home for the Shen. The Shen is the First Spirit in the body and has 2 parts to it. There is the Yuan Shen, or the original Shen, and then the Zhi Shen which is the spirit of the Heart's more worldly functions. The Zhi Shen is connected with mental activity and thinking and controls the physicological and emotional activity as well as our learning and long term memory. They both live in the Heart and the Yuan Shen is "in charge" of the Zhi Shen to keep it from over-thinking and over-analyzing.
It incorporates all five mental and spiritual aspects of the body (the Hun, Po, Yi and Zhi). The Heart is derived from prenatal essence as well as postnatal essence. It is outwardly manifested in the face (look at complexion color) and opens into the tongue. It dominates the blood and vessels. The Heart governs the blood in two ways. First, the transformation of food-qi into blood takes place in the Heart. Secondly, the pulse and blood flow, or circulation, is controlled by the Heart. The Heart is also the influence for the sweat. The hair is the odds and ends of the blood and the Heart controls the blood flow, so they are connected.
The Heart houses the mind (problems like insomina, confusion, illogical speech, and forgetfullness are all related to the Heart) and the Shen (which is the spirit mind). The Shen is reflected in the eyes. The Shen, in one sense, indicates the whole of mental faculties which "reside" in the Heart. In a broader sense, the Shen indicates the whole sphere of mental and spiritual aspects of a human being, as I mentioned briefly above. The emotion that is most connected with the Heart is joy. It is difficult to explain why joy would be cause for disease, because a normal state of joy is not in itself the cause of disease. But when it becomes an excessive craving for excitement, this can injure the Heart. In Chinese Medicine, joy is considered the same as inordinate craving which stirs up the Minister fire. This flows upward and overstimulates the mind. Think about children and joy. When joy is too much and leads to overexcitement, it usually ends in tears.
Other Heart Relationships:
The Heart's smell is scortched
The Heart's color is red
The Heart's taste is bitter
The Heart's climate is heat
The Heart's sound is laughter
When using the Heart Channel for treatment of problems or disorders, it has the actions and indications for:
Treating pain of the chest and Heart and diorders of the Heart rhythm. All points of the Heart channel (except for QingLing Ht 2) treat either pain of the Heart and chest, or palpitations and other disorders of heart rhythms.
Regulating and calming the spirit.
Treats disorders of the tongue adn speech
Treats disorders of the throat like pain, swelling and congestion
Treats disorders of the eyes
Treats disorders of the skin and complexion, especially the face.
(Thanks to Peter Deadman and "A Manuel of Acupuncture" for that list)
According to my QiGong teacher, the Yuan shen (or the original shen) finds its home in the Heart after the first trimester (which is when the heart begins to beat) and distributes spirits to the five organs. The organs don't need their spirit to develop physically, but they don't truly come alive until they receive their spirit from the Yuan shen. These organ spirits are controlled by (or should be controlled by) the Yuan shen. The Yuan shen also animates the Heart. It is connected with the sky and the heavens.
I know that this was a little more in depth than many of you may be interested in, but one of the things that I love about Chinese medicine is all of the nuances and deeper meaning that is everything. I hope that you enjoy this series on organs, Chinese medicine