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Chinese medicine views the organs not as separate entities, but as connected physical, chemical, and energetic networks. In this post we’ll dive deeper into the Chinese medicine concept of the Large Intestine system and discuss how we can use herbal medicine to boost digestive health.
(Note: we will capitalize “Large Intestine” when discussing the Chinese medicine Large Intestine system to differentiate from the general organ of the large intestine.)
The main function of the Large Intestine system in Chinese medicine is to receive food contents from the small intestine, absorb any remaining fluids, and excrete waste.
Emotions: Feeling stuck, can’t let go
Sense Organ: Nose
Paired Organ: Lung
Western Associations: colon, digestive system, anus
Other Associations: skin, body fluids
Common conditions: constipation, diarrhea, inflammatory bowel disease, skin conditions, sinus conditions, inflammation
The Large Intestine organ system in Chinese medicine has many of the same functions of the Western understanding of the large intestine. It’s main priority is to receive the digestive contents from the small intestine, process these further, absorb any remaining nutrients or water, and excrete the final waste.
As in Western medicine, a healthy large intestine keeps digestion running smoothly. When out of balance, however, we may experience constipation, diarrhea, bloating, hemorrhoids, or other digestive issues.
In Chinese medicine, however, the Large Intestine has a few extra functions outside of digestion and excretion. It is paired with the Lung system and together, these organs help to maintain the body’s defense system, upper respiratory tract, and establish healthy boundaries.
The Large Intestine system also impacts our emotions. When we feel stuck, attached to material things, or unable to let go of something, an imbalance in the Large Intestine could play a part.
Each organ in Chinese medicine is associated with an energetic channel where qi travels along the body, closer to the surface of the skin. These channels create a web of connections and are how acupuncturists “tap” into the body’s energetic system to stimulate change.
The Large Intestine Channel starts at the tip of the index finger where it ascends up the arm, to the elbow, the shoulder girdle, along the trapezius muscle, to the neck, and stops at the nostrils. From here, the channel dives deeper into the body to connect to the Lung and finally arrive at the Large Intestine.
Points along the Large Intestine Channel can be used to address issues like constipation, diarrhea, hemorrhoids, inflammatory bowel conditions, inflammatory respiratory issues, low energy, grief and trouble letting go, pain anywhere along the Large Intestine pathway (arm, shoulder, neck, jaw, teeth, or nose), and other symptoms. The Large Intestine channel may be involved in a range of conditions where there is inflammation or bleeding.
Most herbal formulas that address the Large Intestine are aimed at promoting better digestive health. Here are a few of our most popular formulas:
Curing pills work to quickly reduce toxins or inflammation in the Large Intestine that are causing diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, or gas. These are helpful to have on hand while traveling and can quickly relieve the symptoms of food poisoning, motions sickness, or hangovers.
There are many different reasons why we might get constipated, but chronic constipation is usually caused by a lack of energy and moisture. Run Chang Wan helps to restore a healthy fluid balance in the intestines and boost the body’s qi so regular bowel movements are comfortable and easy.
Fargelin is a popular natural way to relieve painful and irritated hemorrhoids. This supplement helps to reduce swelling, inflammation, and pain so hemorrhoids can heal fully.
Ready to better support your Large Intestine system? Shop our full collection of Chinese herbal formulas for better digestive health today!