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  • Writer's pictureRichard Lai

#23: The Functions of the Small Intestine according to Traditional Chinese Medicine

Updated: Aug 25, 2023



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In this episode we dive into the Functions of the Stomach Organ according to Traditional Chinese Medicine


The small intestine is a key organ in the digestive system, responsible for breaking down food and absorbing nutrients. In traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), the small intestine plays an even more important role – it is believed to be the organ responsible for separating the pure from the impure, and for sorting and distributing nutrients throughout the body. Let's take a closer look at the functions of the small intestine in TCM.


Let's talk ANATOMY!

The small intestine is a long, narrow tube that measures about 20 feet in length. It is located in the abdominal cavity, between the stomach and the large intestine. The small intestine is composed of three sections: the duodenum, the jejunum, and the ileum. Its lining is covered in tiny finger-like projections called villi, which increase the surface area for nutrient absorption.


FUNCTIONS of the Small Intestine according to TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine)

According to TCM, the small intestine performs several important functions, including:

  • Separating the pure from the impure: The small intestine receives partially digested food from the stomach, and separates the pure nutrients from the impurities. The pure nutrients are sent to the spleen for further processing, while the impurities are eliminated by the body.

  • Sorting and distributing nutrients: The small intestine sorts the pure nutrients into two categories – the clear and the turbid. The clear nutrients are sent to the spleen, where they are transformed into Qi (vital energy) and Blood. The turbid nutrients are sent to the large intestine for elimination.

  • Regulating the flow of fluids: The small intestine is responsible for regulating the flow of fluids throughout the body. It ensures that the appropriate amount of fluids are absorbed and distributed to the organs and tissues, while excess fluids are eliminated.

The small intestine is a vital organ in traditional Chinese medicine, responsible for separating the pure from the impure, and sorting and distributing nutrients throughout the body.


For the Acupuncture Board Exam

Here are the other ones you should be familiar with and be able to perform differential diagnosis for:

  1. Yin/Yang Theory

  2. Five Elements Theory (Wu Xing)

  3. Eight Principles

  4. Qi, Blood, Body Fluids Theory

  5. Channel Theory

  6. Organ Theory

  7. Six Stages Theory

  8. Four Levels Theory

  9. Triple Burner THeory

  10. Etiology Theory like External / Internal or Miscellaneous Causes of

God Bless and Happy Studying


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