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  • Writer's pictureRichard Lai

#55: PART 2 How to Differentiate Channel Diseases vs Organ Diseases | NCCAOM

Podcast Version of Episode: Link

Dr. Richard Lai DPT LAc [00:00:00]:

Everyone. Welcome back to study acupuncture with me. This is part 2 of channel theory versus organ theory. So in this episode, we're gonna go over 3 different things. First, we're gonna talk about the lung channel and its pathway. Number 2, we're gonna talk about a lung organ pattern. And then number 3, we're gonna talk about how to choose points for channel theory and for organ theory. So let's get right into it.

Dr. Richard Lai DPT LAc [00:00:22]:

So in part 1, we went over some of the theories of channel versus organ theory. Now let's apply all that theory on top of knowledge of the pathway of a channel. So what we're gonna do is we're gonna review the lung channel and its pathway, and then we're gonna look at the lung organ in terms of its patterns. And I think when we combine those 2 topics, then you're gonna see the difference between the 2, the difference between channel theory and organ theory. So first, let's talk about the lung channel. So here, I have a picture of the lung channel, And the black lines on this picture are the pathway that the lung channel follows in the body. So where do we begin? We begin where it Starts. In the lung channel, it starts in our middle jowl.

Dr. Richard Lai DPT LAc [00:01:03]:

It starts near our stomach. Now from the stomach, the channel first goes down. It actually goes down towards our large intestine organ, and it actually connects with our large intestine organ. Now after it connects with the large intestine organ, it loops, and it goes back up, and it goes up over our stomach. It goes past through our diaphragm, and it actually pierces into our lung. And it pierces the lung by going in this diamond shaped pattern here that's showing that it's piercing the lung. Now after it makes that diamond shaped pattern, the channel's gonna go up more, and it's gonna go into our throat. Now from the throat, the channel goes down the side of our neck through the area of where our clavicle sits, and it's gonna go to lung 1.

Dr. Richard Lai DPT LAc [00:01:48]:

Now from lung 1, the channel is gonna go along the pathway of the lung points that we know. So it's gonna go from lung 1 to lung 2 all the way down to lung 11, which lung 11 is at the tip of our thumb. And so that's the main channel of the lung where it starts in our middle jowl, goes down and connects with our large intestine, goes back up to our upper jowl where it connects with the lung organ itself, Then it goes through the pathway from going to the neck, down to lung 1, lung 2, all the way down to our thumb. Now let's look at all the possible manifestations, which Manifestations just mean symptoms that can come up if there's a pathology in the lung channel. So from CAM, we see things like cough. We see asthmatic breathing. We see hemoptysis, which hemoptysis is just a coughing up of blood. We also see a congested and sore throat.

Dr. Richard Lai DPT LAc [00:02:37]:

We see sensation of fullness in the chest. We see pain in the supraclavicular fossa. We see pain in the shoulder. We see pain in the back slash anterior border of the arm. Now that's just driving basically the anterior lateral side of the arm where your lung channel sits. So those are the manifestations that Cam describes if there's a pathology being the lung channel, which now that you know the entire pathway of the lung channel itself, that list of manifestations can actually make so much more sense to you now. Because you know the pathway of the channel and you know the 4 different ways that channel issues can come about, which first, you know the channel pathway. The channel starts in the middle jowl, goes up to the diaphragm, goes up to our lungs, goes up to the throat, goes to this supraclavicular fossa area, past our shoulder, down the side of the arm where the lung channel is, all the way down to your thumb.

Dr. Richard Lai DPT LAc [00:03:34]:

And you also know the 4 different ways that a channel issue can come. So you know that, number 1, a channel issue can come from an invasion of an EPF. You know number 2, a channel issue can come from a general Qi and Blood deficiency. You know number 3, a channel issue can come from an overuse or trauma. And then number 4, you know a channel issue can come from an internal organ disharmony. So when we combine our knowledge of the channel pathway itself with our knowledge of how an issue can affect the channel pathway and we combine that with what Symptoms can come from an issue in the channel pathway itself. Everything can make so much more sense now. And, actually, one more thing I'll mention is that With channel pathologies, when you're evaluating that patient, you have to actually assess the channel pathway.

Dr. Richard Lai DPT LAc [00:04:20]:

So when you're Testing the channel pathway, you might find changes in the skin and the muscles along the pathway of the channel. So for example, You might find dry skin. You might find moist spots. You might find swollen or tender spots. You might even find sunken spots, which Sunken spots can tell you that there's a deficiency in the channel. So depending on what's affecting the channel is gonna be the presentation on the channel itself. Alright. Next, we're gonna look at a lung pattern.

Dr. Richard Lai DPT LAc [00:04:49]:

So here, you're gonna see the difference between a channel pathology and an organ pathology, which you'll notice that with Channel pathologies, they're a little bit more superficial with their manifestations, and organ patterns just have a little more in-depth feel. So first, overall with lung patterns, we have different sections of lung patterns. We have empty patterns. We have full patterns, and we have combined patterns. Now an empty pattern is something like lung chi deficiency. A full pattern is something like lung heat, and then we also have combined patterns where you're gonna see things like lung and heart chi deficiency. So in that pattern, you're gonna see manifestations of both lung chi deficiency and heart chi deficiency. So for this episode, we're only gonna look at 1 pattern, so let's talk about a full pattern like lung heat.

Dr. Richard Lai DPT LAc [00:05:39]:

So with lung heat now, lung heat can come from 2 different causes. Number 1, it can come from an exterior pathogenic factor, And number 2, it can come from diet. So how does it come from an exteri pathogenic factor? Now it can come from an exteri pathogenic factor like wind. So for example, if wind invades the body and you allow that wind to pass into the interior of the body, Then what's gonna happen is it's gonna turn into heat, and we know this from the 6 stages theory, which there are 6 stages from the exterior of our body to the interior. And when a pathology is allowed to pass from the exterior into the interior, And what happens is that there's a disappearance of cold signs in the body and there's an appearance of heat signs. So that shows you how an exterio pathogenic factor, like Wind can actually cause lung heat. Now number 2, lung heat can also come from your diet, which, for example, if your patient eats a lot of Hot energy foods, like, for example, hot spicy foods or red meat or they drink a lot of alcohol. Now these are all hot energy foods, and these can actually introduce heat into the body.

Dr. Richard Lai DPT LAc [00:06:50]:

Now if you combine that kind of diet with smoking, Smoking can actually dry your lungs, and it can actually also introduce heat into the lungs. Now the big whammy, of course, is to actually combine the 2. So it's to drink alcohol and it's to smoke, which separately, they already cause heat. So together, they can even cause more heat. So there you go. Those are the potential causes of lung heat. Now let's talk about the manifestations or the symptoms of lung heat. So from camp, you have things like cough, breathlessness.

Dr. Richard Lai DPT LAc [00:07:24]:

You have a feeling of heat. You have chest ache. You have a flaring of the nostrils. You have thirst, and you have red face. So if there's heat in the lungs, then that's gonna affect the function of the lung. The function of the lung is to govern chi and govern respiration. The lung also opens into the nose, And lung chi has a natural direction of descending. So if you think about how you breathe in, the air needs to go down to fill up the lungs.

Dr. Richard Lai DPT LAc [00:07:55]:

So it makes sense that the chi direction of the lung would be down. Now if heat is affecting the lung, Then it's gonna affect the function of the lung. It's gonna affect the governing of qi, and it's also gonna affect the direction of lung which that can cause breathlessness, and it can cause cough. Heat can also cause the thirst and the red face and even the feeling of heat. Those are all cardinal signs of heat in the body. Another sign of heat in the body is redness. So when you look at their tongue, That tongue might have redness on it. And when you look at the coating, the coating would be yellow.

Dr. Richard Lai DPT LAc [00:08:33]:

And that's because red corresponds to heat, and also yellow corresponds with heat as well. And then when you palpate the pulse, the pulse could be rapid. We know we have 28 pulse qualities, and rapid Here's one that's indicative of the heat. Alright. So now we can answer the last part of Hu Jin's question, which is about choosing points in either channel theory versus Oregon theory. And it really actually boils down to the diagnosis, and it also boils down to the different categories of points that we have in our repertoire because we know there's some points that can treat mania. There's some points that can treat fever or it can treat heat. Some points can treat dampness.

Dr. Richard Lai DPT LAc [00:09:14]:

So if the organ, like, for example, in lung heat, is affected by heat, then we would wanna choose points that would satisfy a treatment principle that would treat lung heat, which for lung heat, when we look at the treatment principle, it says that we have to, number 1, clear heat, and it also says we have to restore the descending of lung g. So to do that, you can use a point like lung 10, which, Lung 10, that's the point in the middle of your thenar eminence. And, categorically, what is it? It's a ying spring point. And ying spring points, we know they can treat heat or they can treat fire. You'll remember that one of my earlier episodes, I have a video titled antique point mnemonics. Now in that video, I talk about how there's 5 antique points or shoe points. You have your Jing Wu, your Ying Spring, etcetera. And in that one, I talk about a mnemonic and how to remember the function of each one of those shoe points, which, being spring points, can treat fire.

Dr. Richard Lai DPT LAc [00:10:13]:

And I'll link that episode in the description on my podcast and on YouTube. I'll actually put it at the top right of this video so you can click on it and go right to that video. Alright. Anyway, so LUNG ten, it can treat lung heat. Now what if it's a lung channel pathology? Now if it's a lung channel pathology, Depending on what the patient's presenting with, based on the 4 different ways that you know that a channel pathology can come about, your treatment is gonna be different. So for example, if there's an invasion of an EPF into the channels, let's say, for example, wind heat, then your patient could present with pain somewhere along the channel. And we know that the channel goes from the middle jowl. It goes up to the upper jowl where it's gonna pierce the lungs.

Dr. Richard Lai DPT LAc [00:10:58]:

So if you imagine that there's wind heat coursing along that pathway between the middle jowl and the upper jowl where it's piercing the lungs, that patient could have some cough because the lungs would be affected. That patient could have some shortness of breath because of that area in the upper jaw. Now That EPF can also invade other parts of your body. It can settle in other parts of your body. For example, if it settles in the joint, Then your patient's gonna say that they have pain that moves from joint to joint. And that's because wind, again, has a characteristic of roving type pain, which means that pain moves from place to place. And if there's heat also involved, then there might be localized redness or swelling in the joints. So if that's the case, on top of using points that would release the exterior because what we're talking about right now It's a pathogen that's still in the exterior.

Dr. Richard Lai DPT LAc [00:11:50]:

Right? It's in the channel still. So you would use points that would release the exterior. So what points can release the exterior? For example, you have Li 4. You have DUE 14. Those can release the exterior. And you're doing this to try to avoid that pathogenic factor from invading more into the interior, which we know when it invades into the interior, That's when it's gonna turn into heat, and you get something like a lung heat organ pattern. So before it gets to that point, you use points to release the exterior. And on top of that, you can use other modalities also.

Dr. Richard Lai DPT LAc [00:12:27]:

So you can use superficial techniques. Like, for example, you can use gua sha, and try to get that pathology out. You can use cupping to try to get that pathology out. Maybe you can even use plum blossom needling or dweena, But plumbing and gua sha would probably be first line defenses. So I hope you can see how, depending on where the pathology is, that the manifestations would be different. And depending on where it is, you can use different points for their categorical function, like, for example, a ying spring point or a releasing the exterior point. And you can also use different modalities on the pathway of the channel itself to try to get rid of the pathology as well. Alright.

Dr. Richard Lai DPT LAc [00:13:07]:

So that does it for this episode of study acupuncture with me. Don't forget to sign up for my email list. So if you're on my email list, you get study guides right to your email with each theory based episode. So go to to sign up for that email list. And if you want access to past study guides, I can send it to you. My only ask is that you share that episode that you're requesting on social media. So all you have to do is share it on social media, screenshot it, and Send me that screenshot of that episode that you shared, and you can send that screenshot to And once I receive that, I'll send you that episode's study guide.

Dr. Richard Lai DPT LAc [00:13:49]:

Now the thing is my goal with study acupuncture with me is just to help as many students out there as possible. I want them to be confident. I want them to understand acupuncture. And you sharing the episodes will only help me accomplish that goal. Alright, everyone. Until next time. God bless, and happy Today's sponsor. So today's sponsor is POUTEE.

Dr. Richard Lai DPT LAc [00:14:15]:

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