Emily Doemland and Sarah Hoene, University of Illinois, China, June 4, 2013

Day 2 of our acupuncture course started off much smoother than yesterday.  Most of us enjoyed a great breakfast at the hotel.  The selection is varied, including things we all associate with dinner foods, like noodles, fried rice, and a salad bar.

Our group managed to catch the bus without our guides and make it to school without a hitch.  Dr. Liu’s morning lecture started off with a detailed discussion of the Zang-Fu organs. There are six zang organs and six fu organs. There are also extraordinary fu organs. Zang organ functions are to manufacture and store the essential substances of the body like qi, blood and body fluid. The fu organ functions are to receive and digest food and to receive and excrete waste. As you can maybe guess, the fu organs would be the gallbladder, stomach, small intestine, large intestine, bladder and the triple burner. Triple burner means the anatomical location of three areas of the body: the thorax, the abdomen from the diaphragm to the umbilicus and the umbilicus down to the toes.  The zang organs are the heart, lungs, liver, spleen, kidney, and pericardium. The zang organs are yin organs and the fu organs are yang organs.  The zang and fu organs have different functions but they are connected by meridians. We learned about meridians a little bit later.  The theories he describes require such a different way of thinking, but it’s fascinating how ancient they are and yet so close to modern medicinal thinking.

Next Dr. Liu covered Qi as well as blood and body fluid.  Qi is kind of a difficult concept to grasp because there is no comparison to it really in Western thought.  Qi is the fundamental substance constituting the universe. Qi creates all phenomena through its movement and change.  Qi is the essential substance of the body.  The movement and change of qi are responsible for all the vital activities of the body. The job of the zang fu organs is to store or transform qi to be used by the body.  Qi belongs to yang.  Blood is made of food, nutrient qi, and kidney essence. Its job is to nourish the body. Blood belongs to yin. Body fluid is a term for all the fluids of the body, like tears, saliva, and gastric juices. Body fluid is also yin. There is a relationship between qi and both blood and body fluid. Qi effects their circulation and production and qi is carried by blood.

For lunch today we went back to the same canteen area as yesterday.  Some of the students went to the second floor cafe to try out the Chinese food.   Some people also got smoothies which were served in cool shell shaped glasses and came in flavors like mango and strawberry.

View of China Agricultural University campus. Student cafeteria is in the background

The afternoon session was dominated by a discussion of meridians and collaterals. Meridians and collaterals are the pathways in which blood and qi are circulated. They form a network, interiorly and exteriorly that connect the tissues and the organs to an organic whole. Dr. Liu explained specifically that they are not the anatomical location of veins, arteries, or nerves. There are 12 regular meridians. They pertain to the zang fu organs. There are 12 divergent meridians that branch from the 12 regular meridians and that connect the internal and external meridians. There are also muscle regions and cutaneous regions that help maintain motion and where qi and blood are delivered to the body surface. The system of meridians is responsible for transmitting the needle sensations and regulating organ function when you are treating or preventing disease.  It was interesting to see pictures of the human body with the meridians marked off.  Dr. Liu talked about several skin diseases that seem to follow different meridians, which was a new concept to us.

We headed back to the hotel after class to freshen up before heading out for dinner and shopping near the Forbidden City.