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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 unique Chinese medicine concept of the Triple Heater and how we can use herbal medicine to boost overall health.
The Triple Heater’s main functions are to energize the body, regulate metabolism and digestion, manage fluids, and protect the body’s organs and muscles. Because it is not a true organ, it does not have any associated disease patterns. Still, the Triple Heater greatly influences our health and impacts how all our other organ systems function.
Emotions: fear, greed; or when balanced, joy
Paired Organ: Pericardium
Western Associations: upper, middle, and lower digestive tract, connective tissue, fascia, mesentery, ENT (ear, nose, throat)
Other Associations: glands (adrenals, pineal, pituitary, thymus, thyroid), hypothalamus
Common Conditions: headache, earache, tinnitus, fever, restlessness, sweating, cold,mood changes, digestive issues, Sjögren’s Syndrome
The Triple Heater (also called the San Jiao, Triple Burner, Triple Warmer, or Triple Energizer) is a unique concept in Chinese Medicine. It is considered an organ itself, but is really more of a system of three main energetic centers in the body.
The upper heater is located in the chest, between the Heart and Lungs. This is where qi (or energy) is created. The middle heater is the digestive center and is likened to a bubbling cauldron, where transformation occurs. The lower heater corresponds to the Large Intestine, Small Intestine, Bladder, and Kidneys. It is considered to be a “drainage ditch” where the good (nutrients) get separated from the bad (waste). All of our body processes rely on the effective functioning of this three-heater system.
Along with the 3 main “heaters,” the Triple Heater is sometimes considered the connections throughout the body and the “space between.” Studies have investigated the vast mesentery and fascia networks of the body and considered this to be part of the intriguing Triple Heater system.
The Triple Heater is closely linked to digestion, fluid metabolism, sleep-wake cycles, and immunity. Common issues associated with imbalances in the Triple Heater are insomnia, fatigue, depression, cold hands and feet, fever, digestive issues, autoimmune disorders, headaches, dizziness, anxiety, and more.
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 Triple Heater Channel starts at the tip of the ring finger, moves along the back of the hand and the outer forearm, to the elbow, the back of the arm, the shoulder, along the side of the neck, around the ear and temple, and ends at the corner of the outer eye. Here it descends inwards and connects to all three heaters.
The Triple Heater Channel is most often used to address pain or issues along the pathway, such as arm pain, shoulder pain, earaches, tinnitus, or headaches.
The Triple Heater offers a holistic way to look at how our body operates as one. There are few herbal formulas that address the Triple Heater specifically, because it’s actions are so widespread. However, there are a few formulas that can help to encourage health throughout each of the Three Burners.
The Triple Heater is often involved in illnesses that are caused by “wind heat.” This concept relates to short-term respiratory illnesses that involve sore throats, dry coughs, chest congestion, fever, thirst, red and itchy eyes, or allergies. Clear Wind Heat Teapills restores a healthy balance and help you overcome your wind-heat-type cold or allergies.
Heat can easily pass from one area of the Triple Heater to another. For instance, excess heat in the Stomach (often seen with ulcers, heartburn, dry mouth, and bad breath) causes heat and dryness in the Lungs (leading to cough or nose bleeds), Large Intestine (leading to dry constipation or foul diarrhea), the Bladder (leading to painful dark urination), and the Liver (leading to headaches and anger). Huang Lian Jie Du Wan directly cools heat to balance all three regions of the body and rebalance the Triple Heater.
Because the Triple Heater Channel travels along the side of the head and ear, it can be helpful to reduce inflammation and support this channel when treating issues of the head. Er Ming Zuo Ci Wang does just that, and can be used for issues like hearing loss, tinnitus, vertigo, headaches, migraines, eye pain, and more.
Ready to take action to enjoy a healthy Triple Heater and support your entire body? Shop our full collection of Chinese herbal formulas for better health today!