Ginseng the Star Root

The ancient bronzeware script characters for ginseng, ren shen 人參

Ginseng 人參 ranks at the top of a group of longevity herbs that have anti-aging and anti-cancer properties. Shen Nong Ben Cao Jing 神農本草經, The Divine Husbandman’s Classic of the Materia Medica, honors it as a superior herb with profound spiritual qualities:

味甘,微寒。主補五臟,安精神,定魂魄,止驚悸,除邪氣,明目、開心、益智。久服,輕身、延年。

‘Sweet in taste and slightly cool in temperature,* it strengthens the vital organs, secures the spirit, anchors the soul, stops fear and fright, eliminates diseases, brightens the eyes, sharpens the senses, and benefits intelligence. When taken long-term, it promotes strength, health, and longevity.’

Image from www.buyginseng.org

Ren Shen 人參 is usually translated as ‘man root.’ Ren 人 is a pictograph representing a human bipod. Ginseng has a bifurcated root that resembles a homunculus. Like the mandrake, its likeness to the human form has inspired myths and intuition about its magical healing properties. The Chinese value ginseng roots for their form; the ones that look like they have heads with defined facial features, and bodies with arms, hands, legs, and feet are most treasured.

Some English herbal texts say shen 參 means ‘root,’ but no Chinese dictionary, classical or modern, lists such a definition. If shen 參 does not mean ‘root,’ what does it mean? The character 參, in common usage, means ‘to join,’ ‘to insert,’ or ‘to examine,’ but is pronounced cān. In ancient scripts, 參 means ‘three.’ Looking at the pictograph, the idea of ‘three’ is expressed by the 厽 at the top and reiterated by 彡 at the bottom. In the middle is human 人. However, the idea of ‘three’ expressed by 參 has a deeper and more specific meaning.

When pronounced shēn, as in ren shen, 參 only has two definitions: 1) it is the name of an herb, and 2) it is the name of one of the twenty-eight constellations in ancient Chinese astronomy. Belonging in the celestial region of the White Tiger of the West 西方白虎, shen 參 is the three bright stars of the Belt of Orion. The three stars line up in a straight line stretching from east to west, as though they are balancing each other.

《前漢·天文志》參爲白虎三星,直者是爲衡石。《註》參三星者,白虎宿中,東西直似稱衡也。

They are vividly depicted by the three circles at the top in the ancient bronzeware script of the character:

Orion (Image from Wikipedia)

But then why name an herb after the stars? Orion, also called The Hunter, is one of the most easily recognized constellations. Orion has seven stars that trace the outline of a hunter in the mythical imagination. The three stars in the middle are lined up evenly to make the hunter’s belt. When they shine high and bright in the night sky, admiring their glory stirs new hope and optimism in the human heart. The three stars came to represent happiness, prosperity, and longevity 福禄寿三星, their rays bestowing those virtues upon humanity. The expression ‘May the Three Stars shine high and bright!’ 三星高照 is a well wish not only for the Chinese New Year, but for all seasons and occasions.

The Three Stars of 參 (Image from Wikipedia)

Ginseng grows slowly, taking time to absorb and distill the essence of heaven and earth. Embedded in its name, ren shen 人參 is the idea that the ginseng root is heaven’s gift to mankind, the manifestation of the Three Stars in the realm of human life, that brings happiness, prosperity, and longevity.

The grand reward of classical Chinese medicine is the intimation of a perfectly integrated universe in which humanity is an expression of Nature. The stars in heaven, the cells in the body: cosmic and human events are seamlessly woven together. Understanding this intellectually is not difficult. Feeling and living it, however, is magic. In every meridian, every acupoint, every herb, there are deeper meanings and connections to be explored and discovered.

* Medical texts subsequent to Shen Nong describe the taste as sweet and slightly bitter, and the temperature as slightly warm.

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Born in the Year of the Dragon

Mass media often present Chinese astrology in simplified but inaccurate forms. For instance, the birth years of the Dragon may be approximated according to the Western, or Gregorian, calendar as:

From Wikipedia

  • 1928
  • 1940
  • 1952
  • 1964
  • 1976
  • 1988
  • 2000
  • 2012
  • 2024

Some go further, and list the beginning and end dates of the Chinese lunar year:

  • Jan. 23, 1928 – Feb. 9, 1929
  • Feb. 8, 1940 – Jan. 26, 1941
  • Jan. 27, 1952 – Feb. 13, 1953
  • Feb. 13, 1964 – Feb. 1, 1965
  • Jan. 31, 1976 – Feb. 17, 1977
  • Feb. 17, 1988 – Feb. 5, 1989
  • Feb. 5, 2000 – Jan. 23,  2001
  • Jan. 23, 2012 – Feb. 9, 2013
  • Feb. 10, 2024 – Jan. 28, 2025

Astrologically speaking, both are inaccurate. A baby born in 2012 before February 4 is a Rabbit (the annual symbol preceding the Dragon). A baby born in 2013 before February 4 is still a Dragon (and not a Snake, the annual symbol following the Dragon). Astrology is as profound as it is complex. Here, we are focused on the birth year’s animal symbol. In fact, there are also monthly, daily, and hourly animal symbols that are equally important. This discussion will deal solely with the correct identification of the birth year for an animal symbol, using the Dragon as a timely example.

We expect the Gregorian calendar year to be just an approximation because it is a solar calendar, different from the Chinese lunar calendar. But why is the Chinese lunar calendar also inaccurate? 

Before there were clocks and watches, people observed the changing positions of the sun, the moon, and the stars to mark the passage of time. The Earth revolves counterclockwise around the sun in an elliptical path, making a complete cycle in 365.25 days, not the neater 365 days. At the same time, the Earth rotates around an axis that is tilted 23.5° from the perpendicular. The Earth’s rotation makes day and night, while the tilt of its rotational axis toward and away from the sun during its annual course creates the four seasons. The basic unit of a solar calendar is day. The beginning of a solar year is marked by one specific position of the sun. It takes one solar year for the sun to return to that exact position.

The moon repeats four phases regularly: new moon, first quarter, full, and last quarter. The basic unit of a lunar calendar is lunar month, which is the time from one new moon to the next. The exact duration varies, but it averages 29.53 days. Compared to the sun cycle, the moon cycle is much easier to count. So even when a solar calendar is used, the moon cycle is still used to keep track of the passage of time. The tricky part is that, as we have seen, the sun and moon cycles are not synchronized:

Solar year: 365.25 days

Lunar year: 12 x 29.5 = 354 days

The lunar year is about 11 days shorter than the solar year. And even the solar year is an odd 365.25 days. The many calendars that existed throughout human history offer different solutions to reconcile these incongruities. The Gregorian calendar adds the leap day, while the Chinese calendar adds a leap month every few years.

Now, let’s return to our question: Why is the Chinese lunar calendar inaccurate for describing the birth year for astrological symbols? The answer is simple: It is the wrong calendar to use for astrology. The so-called Chinese lunar calendar is not a pure lunar calendar. Strictly speaking, it is a lunisolar calendar because it incorporates both sun and moon cycle elements in its calculation. The calendar used in Chinese astrology is actually a solar calendar named Li Chun (立春), meaning ‘beginning of Spring’. The Li Chun calendar starts at the moment when the sun reaches the celestial longitude of 315°. That day usually falls on February 4 or 5 of the Gregorian calendar. The Li Chun calendar divides a year into 24 segments called Jie Qi (節氣), each lasting about 15 days. The 24 Jie Qi represent different energetic patterns that describe climatic conditions and specify timing for important agricultural tasks. Li Chun, ‘beginning of Spring’ is also the name of the first Jie Qi that starts a new year. The Li Chun calendar birth year for the Dragon symbol is as follows:

  • 09:16 Feb. 5, 1928 – 15:07 Feb. 4, 1929
  • 07:07 Feb. 5, 1940 – 12:48 Feb. 4, 1941
  • 04:52 Feb. 5, 1952 – 10:44 Feb. 4, 1953
  • 03:04 Feb. 5, 1964 – 08:45 Feb. 4, 1965
  • 00:39 Feb. 5, 1976 – 06:32 Feb. 4, 1977
  • 22:42 Feb. 4, 1988 – 04:26 Feb. 4, 1989
  • 20:40 Feb. 4, 2000 – 02:27 Feb. 4, 2001
  • 18:22 Feb. 4, 2012 – 00:12 Feb. 4, 2013

The Chinese lunar calendar, on the other hand, starts at the first new moon of the year, and each complete moon cycle makes a lunar month. The start of the lunar new year is usually the day of the new moon closest (before or after) to Li Chun. It can fall on any day between January 20 and February 21, and marks the beginning of the celebration of the Spring Festival (春節). It falls on January 23 this year.

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靈芝 Lingzhi (ganoderma lucidum), the Spiritual Herb

The Su Wen identifies mushrooms as ‘spiritual herbs’ 芝, 神草也.* 神農本草經 Shen Nong Ben Cao Jing, The Divine Husbandman’s Classic of the Materia Medica, describes lingzhi this way:

赤芝,  味苦,平。主胸中結,益心氣,補中,增智慧,不忘。久食,輕身、不老、延年、神仙。 一名丹芝。

‘Red mushroom: Bitter in taste, neutral in temperature, red mushrooms treat tightness in the center of the chest, benefit central qi, augment intelligence, and boost memory. When taken long term, they lighten the body, retard aging, prolong life, enlighten the spirit, and bestow immortality. The red mushroom is also known as the elixir mushroom.’

Ganoderma lucidum (photo from Wikipedia)

The Ben Cao was probably written between 300 BC and 200 AD. Tao Hong-Jing reconstructed the text based on several differing versions around 500 AD. Tao was a Daoist; he classified the 365 herbs in the text into three grades in accordance with Daoist principles:

  • Superior herbs that ‘nourish destiny in accordance with heaven: these are not toxic, and can be taken for the long term without harm’ 主養命以應天,無毒。多服、久服不傷人;
  • Middle grade herbs that ‘nourish the constitution in accordance with humanity: these vary in toxicity, and the duration of their use should be determined accordingly’ 主養性以應人。無毒、有毒,斟酌其宜; and
  • Inferior herbs that ‘treat diseases in accordance with earth: these are mostly toxic, and should not be taken for the long term’ 主治病以應地。多毒,不可久服.

Mushrooms are superior herbs that have a spiritual affinity. They are classified according to their colors, but all of them share this property: ‘when taken over the long term, they lighten the body, retard aging, prolong life, enlighten the spirit, and bestow immortality’: 久食,輕身、不老、延年、神仙.

They can be taken for the long term because they are not toxic. They increase strength and vitality so the body feels light. They retard aging and prolong life by building health and warding off disease. These are the physical benefits. ‘Enlightening the spirit’ and ‘bestowing immortality’ (神仙), however, describes a state of spiritual transcendence. It is not immortality in the sense of never dying, but is the attainment of enlightenment achieved by Daoist Immortals (仙, or xian).

Lingzhi has three growth stages: fruiting body, spore, and mycelium. Fruiting bodies are the actual mushrooms. Mature fruiting bodies release spores that are borne by the wind. If they land on a habitable substrate, such as a dead tree trunk, they develop branching, thread-like hyphae called a mycelium. When two compatible mycelia join together, they develop a secondary hyphae that can absorb nutrients from the substrate and eventually give rise to new fruiting bodies. Lingzhi spores are microscopic (5-8 microns in diameter) and invisible to the human eye. Since there are no apparent root systems, the appearance and disappearance of the mushrooms seem magical. This may have prompted the ancient sages to intuit their spiritual properties. The appearance of lingzhi mushrooms was regarded as an auspicious omen, signaling harmony between heaven and earth, and an enduring period of peace and prosperity for man.

Lingzhi is rich in tripterpenes and polysaccharides. Many studies show that it can benefit the circulatory, nervous, and immune systems to prevent and support healing from such diseases as hepatitis, rheumatoid arthritis, and cancer.

*An alternative interpretation is that 芝 (zhi)  only refers to 靈芝 (Lingzhi), and not to mushrooms in general. The Ben Cao describes altogether six 芝, according to their colors. Five of them – red, black, white, green, and yellow – are in accordance to the five elements. The sixth is purple. Interestingly, ganoderma does come in all those color varieties.

 

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The Quest for Immortality

Few things are as certain in life as death. The Elixir of Immortality, or Elixir of Life, is a substance that confers eternal life or eternal youth. All ancient cultures have some myths about it; the search for lasting youth, beauty, and health is a perennial human expression.

After Qin Shi Huang became the ruler of a unified China in 221 BC, he envisioned a perpetual empire that was purely his own. He declared himself the First Emperor, and proceeded to purge the country of the past. He ordered books burned and scholars buried alive. He barricaded the country by building the Great Wall to protect against ‘barbarian’ invasion, but also to prevent the infiltration of foreign ideas. Only his death would stand in the way of fulfilling such an agenda and, after a number of high-profile assassination attempts on his life, he knew he had to do something about it. He sent expeditions overseas in search of the Elixir of Immortality. When those efforts came up empty, he had a Terracotta Army of 8,000 soldiers built to protect him in his afterlife.

Easter Island (Photo from Wikipedia)

In the scientific world, this enterprise is carried out at the molecular level. In the 1960s, a group of Western scientists went to Easter Island. They collected numerous blood samples from the natives and brought back soil samples. In one of those jars were found bacteria that were able to significantly prolong the lifespan of mice. They were named rapamycin, after Rapa Nui, another name for Easter Island. It was found that rapamycin inhibits the expression of a protein named TOR (Target Of Rapamycin), and in so doing retards the process of aging and decay. Although Rapamycin is used in some cancer-combatting drugs, it is not suitable as a longevity substance because it is an immunosuppressant with

mTOR (Image from Wikipedia)

serious side effects. Its importance here is the light it throws on mTOR (mammalian Target Of Rapamycin), a genetic protein that is essential for healthy, normal growth and development of life in its early stage, but also responsible for its degeneration in its late stage. The expression of mTOR mediates the life process. The search now is for safe substances that may inhibit mTOR.

The Elixir of Immortality that the Daoists talk about may refer to several things. First of all, there is the difference between Nei Dan and Wei Dan. Nei Dan is the cultivation of internal elixir by practicing qigong or meditation. Wei Dan is the ingestion of external substances, like minerals and herbs. Cinnabar was a common form of Wei Dan. It was taken in minute amounts to aid meditation. Cinnabar contains mercury and is highly toxic. It killed quite a few Daoists, including several emperors. A different kind of Wei Dan is a group of herbs, many of them mushrooms, regarded as having a spiritual affinity. They can be safely taken for a long period of time. The top three may be ginseng, lingzhi (reshi), and cordyceps. They are regarded as longevity herbs because they build health and protect against diseases. Many studies show that they protect the vital systems and functioning of the body and inhibit tumor growth. They retard the aging process as the inhibition of mTOR seems also to do.

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Natural Remedies for High Blood Pressure

The regime is quite simple and it works all the time:
  • Acupuncture treatments on a regular basis. Acupuncture can lower BP immediately. I have seen a drop of 20 points by needling one single point. Does the BP stay at that level? No, but it teaches the body the relaxation response and there is a cumulative effect over the course of treatments. Acupuncture may be the most costly item in this regime but considering that it is a tonic for body mind spirit, and that related health problems can be addressed in the same sessions, it is a great investment.
  • Breathing or qigong practice is essential to gain voluntary control of autonomic processes including BP.  This is the most important part of my work with patients. Patients learn to regulate not only their BP, but their moods and emotional responses. Fifteen minutes practice twice a day is recommended.
  • A proper low salt diet is essential. Most of my patients are already on a healthy diet. For those who need diet adjustments go with the DASH diet.
  • Many Chinese herbal formulas are useful for lowering BP. One I use often is chai hu jia long gu mu li tang. It is not a one size fits all formula. The choice of herbal formula is based on disease pattern diagnosis. Consult a trained herbalist.
  • For supplements, go with coenzyme Q10 & pycnogenol, which is Mediterranean pine bark extract. Olive leaf extracts & green tea too if you enjoy them. I recommend Tai Chi Green Tea which is prepared from baby tea leaves and is delicious. It will elevate your green tea experience to a new dimension. All diet supplement products in the market are not equal. Don’t buy price. Seek recommendations from a knowledgeable health professional.
  • The rest is exercise & a healthy lifestyle.
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Stone Medicine Along the North Rim

Kaibab, Toroweap, Coconino, Hermit Shale, Supai, the top five layers of rock formations created over 500 million years are readily visible at the North Rim of the Grand Canyon. Look around and you see the same layers in mountains near and far. Each mountain is unique, hewn and polished through millennia by fire, water, and other elemental forces.

North Rim, Grand Canyon. Photo by Lok-Kwan.

But each is created from the same materials and subjected to the same dynamics of change. Understanding the materials and the processes enables understanding of all. One can then imagine and marvel at the unique pressures and stresses that molded each formation. True understanding is more than scientific or technical. True understanding is an intimation of time, of beginning, being, ending, and never ending. Know the stars and you know humanity. Know the mountains and you know man. Just as glorious, just as illusive, and just as impermanent.

Healing can come only from true understanding. Life is potent material subjected to internal and external processes of change. Each person becomes unique but the original material and dynamics of the processes are the same.

Stones are medicine, Igneous rocks vibrate at the yuan constitutional level, metamorphic rocks at the ying nutritive level, and sedimentary rocks at the wei defensive level. However, all stones correspond with essence, the material basis of our life, the deepest part of our psyche. So, regardless of the depth of the disease or imbalance, to the extent that they relate to our basic makeup, stones may be be the most effective treatment.

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Heaven Above, Earth Below

How is the story of Pangu 盤古 separating the yang from the yin to create heaven and earth important?

Humans, unlike most animals,  are blessed with a vertically oriented spine, rooted in earth, but reaching up to heaven. In establishing order, knowing up from down assumes foremost importance. Yang is light, and ascends. Yin is dense, and descends. Yang is heaven above. Yin is earth below. But up/down is only one dimension of yang/yin. When Pangu laid down to rest, his left eye transformed into the sun, his right eye the moon. The left side of the body and the sun are yang. The right side of the body and the moon are yin. The left-yang, right-yin distinction is commonly used in acupuncture. When only one side needs to be needled, men are needled on the left, women on the right. It also explains the placement of liver diagnostic areas on the left side of the cheeks and abdomen, since the liver is a yang zang organ; and the placement of lung diagnostic areas on the right, since the lung is a yin zang organ.

The distinction between clear yang and turbid yin is very important in Chinese medicine. Turbid means thick, or dense. Turbid does not mean dirty or bad. The head is heaven: it is the highest part of the body. It is the most yang part of the body, hence, it should be filled with clear yang. If it is, the brain and senses will function well. The person will be able to perceive the world and communicate clearly, and respond appropriately. If it is not, then we think either a blockage prevented the clear yang from rising, or that the body is unable to descend the turbid yin. Either way, the head is now filled with turbid yin. The senses will be clouded, the head will feel heavy, the person will not be able to think or speak clearly.

Phlegm is a excellent example of turbid yin. It can be in the familiar form that can be seen – thick and sticky or thin, clear or yellow, green, or brown, depended on whether it is associated with cold or heat. But there is also psychospiritual phlegm that has no physical form. Plum Pit Qi is a good example.  It is the emotional or mental blocks that sticks to our sensory organs and confuse their functioning. Phlegm can generate and combine with wind or fire to create headache, dizziness, epilepsy, mania.

Spleen is the organ most responsible for raising the clear yang. A common scenario for the generation of phlegm is like this: Emotional frustration causes liver qi to stagnate, spleen functioning is blocked, spleen can not raise the clear yang and turbid yin can not descend. In time, turbid yin turns into phlegm.

The most important acupoint for getting rid of phlegm is Stomach 40, located at the middle and about an inch on the outside of the shin bone. The two main herbs for raising clear yang are Sheng Ma (Rhizoma Cimicifugae), and Chai Hu (Radix Bupleuri). They are often used together in combination with other herbs. Unlike western herbalism, very few Chinese herbs are ever used singly.

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Pangu 盤古 Created the World

Pangu 盤古 was the first being born out of formless chaos. For 18,000 years Pangu grew in a cosmic egg, working ceaselessly to create order by separating the clear yang from the turbid yin. The clear became the egg white, the turbid the yolk. Out of these he created heaven and earth. Each day heaven rose ten feet, earth expanded ten feet, and Pangu grew ten feet taller. After incubating for 18,000 years Pangu hatched from the egg and and laid down to rest. His breath became the wind, his voice the thunder. His left eye became the sun, his right eye the moon. His limbs and trunk became the mountain ranges. His blood became the rivers, his flesh the fertile soil. His hair and beard became the stars and the Milky Way, his fur the trees and forests. His teeth and bones became minerals and metals. The marrow of his bones became jade and pearls. His sweat became the rain and the dew. And when the wind blew, the fleas on his fur became fish and animals. Thus the world was born.

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Time & Timing in Acupuncture: Zi Wu Liu Zhu Fa 子午流注法

Zi Wu Liu Zhu Fa 子午流注法 is a method of prescribing and needling the five Shu points based on the date and time of treatment. Some of the ideas involved are well-known: for instance, the circadian flow of qi and blood through the twelve meridians. Others, like the sexagenary cycles of days and years, may be obscure. However, the basic rationale for the method is easy to understand. The emphasis is on time and timing. Life advances through cycles of day and night but there are larger cycles of months, seasons, and years, and all these are interwoven with the cycles of yin and yang, and of the five elements. Zi Wu Liu Zhu is a way to understand the energetics resulting from this matrix of influences, and to create change by needling the five shu points.

The way to arrive at the shu points prescription is quite simple and basic. First, the dominant meridian of the day is identified, then the dominant time of needling. (Future installments will cover these aspects. Here we are only concerned with the principle of shu points prescription.) For example, on the day of Jia 甲 (1st heavenly stem, pertaining to yang wood), the Gallbladder meridian is dominant. Those who are familiar with the meridian clock already know the dominant time is 11 PM to 1 AM. The first point to be needled is always the jing-well point of the dominant meridian, i.e., GB44, the Metal point of the GB meridian. From there, we just follow the five element generating cycle to arrive at the next meridian and point. Wood generates fire so the second point will be from a fire element meridian. Since the day of Jia 甲 pertains to yang wood all our points will be from yang meridians for this prescription. The second meridian is therefore Small Intestine (yang Fire). Since Metal (GB44 Metal point) generates Water, the second point is therefore the Water point of the SI meridian – SI2. Fire generates Earth so the third meridian will be yang Earth – Stomach meridian. Water generates Wood so the third point will the the Wood point of the ST meridian – ST 43. Earth generates Metal so the fourth meridian is yang Metal – Large Intestine. Wood generates Fire so the fourth point is the Fire point of the LI meridian – LI5. The fifth point will be the Earth point of yang Water – UB40.

So, the Zi Wu Liu Zhu prescription for the day of jia is:

GB44, SI2, ST43, LI5, & UB40

This is Zi Wu Liu Zhu in a nutshell. In actual practice, there are substitutions and additions to the formula which we’ll discuss in future posts.

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The Five Changes 五變 and the Five Shu Points 五輸

Ling Shu Ch. 44

黃帝曰:願聞五變。歧伯曰:肝為牡藏,其色青,其時春,其音角,其味酸,其日甲乙;心為牡藏,其色赤,其時夏,其日丙丁,其音徵,其味苦;脾為牝藏,其色黃,其時長夏,其日戊己,其音宮,其味甘;肺為牝藏,其色白,其音商,其時?,其日庚辛,其味辛;腎為牝藏,其色黑,其時冬,其日壬癸,其音羽,其味鹹。是為五變。

Huang Di: I would like to learn about the five changes.

Qi Bo: Pathological changes may occur in in the organ, and in color, time, tone, and flavor.

The Liver is yang in nature. Its color is green, its time is the spring season and the day jiǎ yǐ 甲乙 (the 1st & 2nd Heavenly Stems, pertaining to the Wood element), its tone is qiao 角 , and its flavor is sour.

The Heart is yang in nature. Its color is red, its time is summer and the day bǐng dīng 丙丁(the 3rd & 4th Heavenly Stems, pertaining to the Fire element), its tone is zheng 徵, and its flavor is bitter.

The  Spleen is yin in nature. Its color is yellow, its time is the late summer and the day wù jǐ 戊己 (the 5th & 6th Heavenly Stems, pertaining to the Earth element), its tone is gong 宮, and its flavor is sweet.

The Lung is yin in nature. Its color is white, its time is autumn and the day gēng xīn 庚辛 (the 7th & 8th Heavenly Stems, pertaining to the Metal element), its tone is shang 商 , and its flavor is acrid.

The Kidney is yin in nature. Its color is black, its time is winter and the day rén guǐ 壬癸 (the 9th & 10th Heavenly Stems, pertaining to the Water element), its tone is yu 羽 , and its flavor is salty.

黃帝曰:以主五輸奈何?歧伯曰:藏主冬,冬刺井;色主春,春刺滎;時主夏,夏刺輸;音主長夏,長夏刺經;味主秋,秋刺合。是謂五變,以主五輸。

Huang Di: How does needling of the five shu 輸 points relate to the five changes?

Qi Bo: The zang organs store and winter is the season for storage. Needle the jing 井 points in winter to treat the zang organs. Colors flourish in spring. Needle the ying 滎 points to treat changes in color. The energy of all the seasons attains full expression in summer. Needle the shu 輸 points in summer to affect time. The tones govern late summer. Needle the jing 經 points in late summer to treat changes in tone. The flavors relate to nutrition and Autumn. Needle the he 合 points in autumn to treat the digestive.

黃帝曰:何謂藏主冬,時主夏,音主長夏,味主秋,色主春。願聞其故。歧伯曰:病在藏者,取之井;病變於色者,取之滎;病時間時甚者,取之輸;病變於音者,取之經;經滿而血者,病在胃;及以飲食不節得病者,取之於合,故命曰味主合。是謂五變也。

Huang Di: Please explain further.

Qi Bo: When a disease is in the organs, needle the jing 井 points. When a disease changes the color of the skin or complexion, needle the ying 滎 points. When a disease manifests intermittently, needle the shu 輸 points. When a disease changes the sound of the patient’s voice, needle the jing 經 points. When there is blood stagnation, or when the disease is in the stomach, or when a disease results from diet irregularities, needle the he 合 points. Thus the five shu 輸 points are needled to treat the five changes.

黃帝曰:諸原安和,以致六輸。歧伯曰:原獨不應五時,以經合之,以應其數,故六六三十六輸。

Huang Di: Since the yang meridians each has a separate yuan 原 point, that makes six shu 輸 points?

Qi Bo: Alone among the shu points, the yuan 原 points do not correspond with the five seasons. They are used according to the nature of the meridian each is on. Yes, the yang meridians altogether have six times six equals to thirty-six shu 輸 points. (The yin meridians altogether have only thirty because their yuan and shu 輸 points are the same points.)

 

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