Kidneys are called the basis of internal organs in Chinese medicine

“Kidneys are the basis of internal organs, the root of twelve meridians, the basis of breathing, the source of triple Jiao, and a human depends on them as they are the origin of a life.” The words are from Mai Jue Hui Bian, which is a book about pulse diagnosis and was written in the 17th century.

In modern schoolbooks of Chinese medicine, the Yin and Yang of an internal organ are said to be two parts of the Qi of the organ. The explanation is an attempt to connect the theory of Yin and Yang with dialectical materialism. In traditional Chinese philosophy, Qi is abstractly the source of everything; but Qi in Chinese medicine is a very narrow concept. Therefore, you may read a different explanation here.

The Yin and Yang of an internal organ are two physical attributes of the organ. The Yin of an internal organ acts the role of calming, moistening, and nourishing the organ, while the Yang of an internal organ acts the role of activating, warming, and exciting the organ.

The Qi of an internal organ is the energy that performs the functions of the organ. How it works depends on the state of the organ. When the Yin and Yang of the organ are sufficient and balanced, the Qi of the organ properly performs the functions of the organ.

In some ancient books of Chinese medicine, the Yin of an internal organ may be called the Yin-Qi of the internal organ, and the Yang of an internal organ may be called the Yang-Qi of the internal organ. The concept of Qi in “Yin-Qi” and “Yang-Qi” is used in a broad sense.

Kidney Yin is called original Yin, while kidney Yang is called original Yang. Kidney Yin nourishes the Yin of other internal organs, while kidney Yang reinforces the Yang of other internal organs. For example, if kidney Yin is deficient, it can’t nourish heart Yin, so heart Yang loses restriction and becomes hyperactive, leading to vexation and insomnia.

Jing in a broad sense exists in each internal organ, but Jing in a narrow sense means kidney Jing. The Jing of an internal organ is not the Yin of the organ, but it also has the attribute of Yin in a broad sense, as blood and body fluid have the attribute of Yin. The Qi of an internal organ is not the Yang of the organ, but it also has the attribute of Yang in a broad sense. The sydrome of the deficiency of Qi and the syndrome of the deficiency of Yang have some similar symptoms, and the progression of the deficiency of Qi of an internal organ may lead to the deficiency of Yang of the organ.

As the basis of internal organs, kidneys are often influenced by a long illness caused by the disorders of other internal organs, leading to the syndrome of the deficiency of kidneys.

Jing Yue Quan Shu, a book of Chinese medicine published in the 17th century, describes the importance of Ming Men as the picture shows. Ming Meng means literally the gate of a life. Eyes are called MIng Men in Ling Shu, a theoretical classical book of Chinese medicine, but Nan Jing, another theoretical classical book of Chinese medicine, says, “There are two kidneys, but not all of them are kidneys. The left kidney is kidney, and the right kidney is Ming Meng.” The later development of the theory of Ming Men is enlightened by Nan Jing, and the dominant view is that two kidneys can be called Ming Men. Zhang Jiebin, the author of Jing Yue Quan Shu, described the importance of Ming Men in his book, “Ming Men is the sea of Jing and blood, while the spleen and the stomach are the sea of water and grains. They are all the basis of internal organs. However, Ming Men is the root of primordial Qi, the house of water and fire. Without Ming Men, the Yin-Qi of five internal organs can’t be nourished. Without Ming Men, the Yang-Qi of five internal organs can’t be activated.”

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