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Chinese medicine views the organs not as separate entities, but as connected physical, chemical, and energetic networks. Here, we’ll dive deeper into the Chinese medicine concept of the Spleen system and how we can use herbal medicine to boost our health.
(Note: we will capitalize “Pericardium” when discussing the Chinese medicine Pericardium system to differentiate from the general organ of the pericardium.)
The main functions of the Pericardium system in Chinese medicine are to support and protect the heart from damage.
Emotions: delirium, excess or lack of joy
Sense Organ: Tongue
Paired Organ: Triple Heater
Western Associations: pericardial sac
Other Associations: chest, tongue, breasts
Common Conditions: heart conditions, palpitations, cough, chest tightness, mastitis, breast feeding issues, stomach issues related to emotional stress, anxiety, restlessness, insomnia, delirium, difficulty expressing emotions, phobias.
The pericardium is a layered membrane or sac that encloses the heart. It both protects the heart and offers lubrication to avoid friction with each beat.
It may be easy to overlook the pericardium in Western medicine, but in Chinese medicine it holds an incredibly important job. The Heart is seen as the “emperor,” or the most vital organ of the entire body, and the Pericardium is it’s protector.
The Pericardium helps ensure the Heart has enough qi to function, is not overwhelmed by an excess of qi, and defends it against any outside pathogens. But, when out of balance or unsupported, the Pericardium can become stressed and fail to protect the Heart. Some common symptoms are palpitations, chest constraint, insomnia, and irritability.
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 Pericardium Channel starts in the chest center, at the Pericardium organ. One branch descends through the diaphragm and into the middle, and lower burners of the Triple Heater (through the digestive organs). The other branch surfaces from the pericardium to the nipple. It then moves up the breast to the upper arm and moves down the inside of the arm, elbow, forearm, and wrist. It crosses through the palm and ends at the outer corner of the middle fingernail.
Like many other organ systems, the Pericardium Channel’s pathway makes it useful for treating conditions along the pathway, like breast issues, chest constraint, cough, or pain along the arm. But because of its close relationship to the Heart, the Pericardium excels at treating both physical and mental conditions that have an emotional or stress-related component.
Here are some of our favorite Best Chinese Medicine formulas to heal the Pericardium and address heart health challenges:
Jia Wei Xiao Yao San is a popular Chinese herbal formula to address a wide range of issues caused by stress. Stress increases tension in the body, especially the Heart and blood vessels. Over time, this leads to issues like hypertension, headaches, and cardiovascular conditions. Jia Wei Xiao Yao San calms and protects the Pericardium and Heart for stress relief and healthy blood pressure.
When heat and stagnation affect the Pericardium and Heart, we may experience restlessness, anxiety, and insomnia. If you find yourself tossing and turning at night and feel a restless or agitated sensation in your chest, An Shen Bu Xin Wan may help.
Stress and irritation can easily affect the Pericardium and Heart systems. With Chai Hu Long Gu Mu Li Tang, we can quiet excessive thoughts, nervousness, tension, and overexcitability with herbs that naturally calm, quiet, and relax the mind and body.
The Pericardium Channel (Pericardium Meridian)