The body is a mini eco-system according to Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). The environment and the body are similarly viewed in the Chinese culture. There are vital substances contained on earth that are vital to the earth’s survival such as the air, water, and land. The human body being similar also has vital substances – blood, body fluids, essence and Qi.
No one can deny the importance of blood to the survival of the body. It is needed for bone, organ creation, skin and muscle. The Chinese also believe that blood contains Shen (spirit) that gives balance to the psyche.
The Chinese call body fluids Jin Ye. Body fluids protect, lubricate and care for the body alongside the blood. Body fluids give needed moisture to our skin, muscles and also the joints to help them function properly. Fluids are also important to our spine, bone marrow and our brain. When we become dehydrated the skin becomes dry and flaky, bowels become constipated. When bodies have too much fluids individuals become lethargic and can have an increase in phlegm.
Jing is what the Chinese people call essence. Essence is the body’s reproductive and regenerative substance. The body’s growth, development, reproductive system all is regulated by essence. Essence also works with qi to protect the body from external causes that try to harm the body.
That very special energy that we all have that allows us to move, feel and think is called, qi. Qi is what protects us from illness, and keeps our body warm. There are two ways that our body receives qi. We receive qi from the air we breath and from the food we eat. When the supply of qi is blocked or depleted below compatible levels with functioning, organs fail and illness sets in.
These very important vital substances flow through the body nourishing it, supporting it and maintaining it. The body is in a healthy state when all of the vital substances are present in appropriate amounts. When any of the vital substances are depleted or absent the body can become unhealthy and symptoms such as aches, tension, swelling, indigestion, and fatigue can occur.
The substances flow through meridians that are positioned to link all of the body parts together. Meridians are very important to Chinese therapy. It is through these meridians that therapy can adjust or regulate qi.
Getting back to our mini eco-system, these meridians are vital as they transport the vital substances to where the body needs them. Just as rivers flow to provide moisture for plants and animals, meridians flow to provide moisture and qi to the body.
The vital substances are necessary for good health. Chinese medicine is focused on regulating qi and monitoring these vital substances.