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Zang Fu Theory

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Zang Fu Theory in Traditional Medicine

The organs of the body are divided into two categories — Zang and Fu.  In traditional Chinese medicine, the functions of these organs and how they relate to each other is known as Zang Fu theory.

The 5 Zang organs are:

  • Heart
  • Lung
  • Spleen
  • Liver
  • Kidney

The 6 Fu organs are:

  • Gall bladder
  • Small intestine
  • Large intestine
  • Stomach
  • Urinary bladder
  • Sanjiao (made up of 3 areas of the body cavity)

Zang organs are known for storing and regulating Qi. Qi is the essential life force and energy that runs through your body. The zang organs produce this energy. They also regulate your emotions and senses. According to traditional Chinese medicine, zang organs are home to the spirit and include the blood and other fluids in your body.

The Fu organs receive and digest food. They absorb nutrients and transport waste.  Elimination waste from your body is also part of the Fu organ system. Basically, the Fu organs are the hollow systems.

Zang and Fu organs coexist and are all part of a web. Each Zang organ is paired up with a Fu organ. When there is trouble or upset in one organ, the organ with which it’s paired will manifest symptoms as well. Each pair of organs is also linked to each of the five elements – earth, fire, water, wood, and metal.   

The lungs are paired with the large intestine; together they represent metal.  The liver and gall bladder are paired and represent wood. The pairing of the spleen and stomach represents Earth. The kidneys and urinary bladder are paired and represent water.  The last pair - the heart and small intestine - represents fire.  These complex links between your body’s organs solidify the belief in Chinese medicine that all body systems work in conjunction with each other.

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