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  • Writer's pictureRichard Lai

#31 - What's the difference between the San Jiao and the Liver?

Updated: Aug 25, 2023

San Jiao Functions according to Acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine

Hey everyone!

In Episode 30 we talked about the functions of the san jiao and I got a comment on the youtube video asking a really good question! Here's the question:

“How does the function of the SJ moving qi throughout the body differ from the LIVER’S FUNCTION of moving qi throughout the body?"

So in this episode,

In this episode, we dive into the fascinating topic of how the San Jiao (Triple Burner) and the Liver differ in their functions of moving Qi throughout the body. By exploring the distinct roles of these two organs, we gain valuable insights into the intricate workings of Qi circulation within the human body.

Recap: Qi Mechanism and Fundamental Movements The San Jiao is responsible for controlling the transportation and penetration of Qi throughout the body. Its functions encompass the ascending, descending, entering, and exiting of Qi in all organs and body parts. These movements, collectively known as Qi mechanism, form the basis of how Qi flows within different physiological processes.

Yin and Yang Characterization: To better understand the movements of Qi, we can categorize them into Yin and Yang. Ascending and descending movements are characterized as Yang and Yin, respectively. Similarly, exiting represents a Yang movement, while entering denotes a Yin movement. The entering and exiting of Qi refer to its movement into and out of organs or structures within the body.

Qi Movement and Physiological Processes: The fundamental movements of Qi directly influence various physiological processes in the body. From birth and growth to maturation, our sensory functions (such as vision, hearing, and taste), blood formation, Qi generation, fluid transformation, and excretion, all rely on the proper movement of Qi. When there is a balanced interplay between Yin and Yang, specifically in ascending, descending, entering, and exiting, our physiological processes operate optimally.

Differentiation: San Jiao and Liver Functions The San Jiao primarily controls the movement of Qi throughout the body, ensuring the proper ascending, descending, entering, and exiting of Qi in all organs and body parts. It plays a crucial role in facilitating the descent of Qi in the stomach, ensuring healthy digestion and appetite.

On the other hand, the Liver's function is to ensure the smooth flow of Qi throughout the body and all organs. It aids Qi movement, promoting circulation, relaxation, and unhindered flow. The Liver's responsibility is to maintain the smooth and proper movement of Qi in all directions within the body.

Collaborative Control for Smooth Qi Movement: The San Jiao and Liver work together to orchestrate the movement of Qi, emphasizing two essential aspects: smoothness and appropriateness. Smooth flow implies unhindered circulation, relaxed movement, and unobstructed Qi. Both organs contribute to maintaining this smoothness. Additionally, the movement of Qi must align with the proper direction designated for each organ to carry out its physiological processes effectively.

Application and Patient Considerations: Understanding the distinct functions of the San Jiao and Liver can be valuable in clinical practice. For patients experiencing patterns exacerbated by stress and emotional turmoil, which may cause Qi stagnation in the Liver, combining treatment strategies involving both Liver and San Jiao points can be beneficial. For instance, incorporating points such as San Jiao 6 to promote transportation and penetration of Qi, or utilizing San Jiao Shu (UB 22) alongside Liver points, can help restore smooth Qi flow and achieve positive patient outcomes.

Studying 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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