The Large Intestine in Acupuncture
Hello everyone, I’m Doctor Lott your host and educator from Acupuncture is my Life. I’d like to say welcome back, and today I plan to talk about the functions of the large intestine meridian when it comes to Acupuncture and Chinese medicine. As I’d stated in my previous article on the lung meridian, the large intestine is the paired meridian to the lung. The main function of the large intestine is to receive food and drink from the small intestine.
Chinese medical theory is usually brief when it comes to the functions of the large intestine meridian. This is not to say that the functions of the large intestine meridian are not important, it’s just that when it comes to the functions of the large intestine in western medicine, a lot of those functions are attributed to the spleen and liver meridians in regards to the Chinese medical theory.
The spleen controls the transformation and transportation of food and fluids throughout the digestive system, including the small and large intestine. For this reason, in disease, symptoms such as diarrhea, loose stools, blood in the stools and mucus in the stools are usually attributed to a spleen disharmony. Symptoms such as abdominal distention and/or pain and constipation are often due to a liver disharmony under Chinese medical theory. Pathologically, large intestine patterns are often sub-patterns of a wider spleen or liver meridian patterns. In Chinese medicine, the large intestine controls passage and conduction.
The large intestine receives digested food from the small intestine; it transforms it into stools and it ensures that the stools are moved along and conducted downwards. Stagnation of Qi often affects the large intestine and this causes a disruption of the downward flow of Qi, resulting in abdominal distention and possibly constipation. It can also be said that the Qi of the large intestine could sink, causing rectal prolapse or blood in the stools; this condition would always be associated with the sinking of spleen Qi. A pattern of such, I go into detail about in my discussion of the spleen meridian. The large intestine is also recognized in Chinese medical theory for its ability to transform stools and reabsorb fluids. The large intestine performs the final transformation of the digested food to form stools which are then excreted from the body. Similar to western medicine, it reabsorbs fluids to the gut, thus achieving the right balance of fluids so that the bowels are neither too dry (resulting in constipation) nor too wet (resulting in loose stools). The lungs and large intestine channels are interiorly/exteriorly related to Chinese medicine. This relationship is important for the execution of commonly bodily functions as the descending lung Qi lends the large intestine the necessary Qi for the effort of defecation.
If lung Qi is deficient, it does not give enough Qi to the large intestine for the act of defecation, resulting in constipation. This tends to be a common pattern in people with declining lung Qi…one way to combat this problem is to add cardiovascular exercise to your daily routine.
There you have the simple functions of the large intestine meridian in Chinese medicine. Until next time…
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