Cultivation of the Qi of Five Organs, Part II

Ann Wang, Ph.D., L. Ac

The qi of the five organs is very essential to ones health, as was described in Part I. Qi can also
be cultivated through diet, exercise, emotional management and herbal remedies.

There are five elements of flavor in food. They are sour, bitter, sweet, spicy, and salty. Each of
these flavors has a close relationship with one of the five organs. Generally speaking, sour
flavors regulate the qi of the liver. Sour foods like vinegar, black plum and lemons may help
control or lessen mood swings caused by imbalances of the liver. Bitter flavors neutralize inner
fire, characterized by anxiety, heart palpitations, irritability, and strong odors in the mouth.
Controlling inner fire can improve the function of the heart. Choosing bitter foods, such as bitter
melon, grape fruit, and rhubarb, aids in regulating heart qi. Sweetness can nourish the spleen,
reduce spasms, and regulate digestion. Honey, fructose, licorice, and dates all have sweet flavors
that alleviate with deficiencies of spleen qi. Eating red pepper, ginger, scallions, black pepper,
mustard is advantageous for people who get sick easily and have a tendency to be cold. Spicy
flavors alleviate deficiency of lung qi. Chinese medicine believes that spiciness has the effect of
increasing energy and blood circulation, dispelling coldness and strengthening yang energy.
Seaweed, carp, seafood and other salty foods are used to reinforce kidney qi and also to reduce
size of masses.

In conclusion, sour flavors cultivate the liver, bitterness cultivates the heart, sweetness cultivates
the spleen, spiciness cultivates the lungs and saltiness cultivates the kidneys. However, one must
not take in too much of any one flavor to avoid damaging the organs. Eating too much sweets
will slow digestion and metabolism, weaken spleen functions, cause water retention or obesity.
Too much spicy foods will irritate the lungs, causing chronic coughing. Excessive salty foods
increases the burden on the kidneys, possibly causing swelling.

According to Chinese medical teachings, the liver controls ligaments, the heart controls blood
vessels, the spleen controls the muscles, the lungs controls skin, and the kidneys control bones.
Regular exercise such as jogging, walking, aerobics, tai chi and yoga can enhance the functions
of the liver, kidneys, heart and spleen.

Skin exercises are an effective way of strengthening and increasing the capacity of the lungs, and
improving the body’s defense mechanisms. There are two simple methods of doing skin
exercises. One is to take cold water showers regularly and another is to practice a combination of
lung and skin breathing excersizes. When you inhale, try to visualize the pores of your skin
opening. Visualize that air does not only enter your body though the respiratory system, but also
though your skin. When you exhale, visualize the pores closing. Do this exercise regularly,
especially in the winter and the spring.

Emotion Management

Chinese medical teachings state that anger impairs the liver, anxiety impairs the heart, worry
impairs the spleen, sadness impairs the lungs, and fear impairs the kidneys. Reducing anger and
controlling the temper is helpful to prevent some illnesses related to the liver. Common medical
conditions like depression, caused by stagnation of liver qi, and hypertension, caused by
excessive liver yang, can be relieved by controlling emotions of anger. Reducing anxiety,
keeping a calm and peaceful mind can prevent heart problems. Many conditions related to the
heart, such as heart attacks and arrhythmia, are all caused by excessive anxiety. Over worrying
and over thinking can slow the metabolism, weaken the spleen functions, and cause digestive
disorders or fatigue. Fear impairs kidney energy. Some kidney related conditions from Chinese
medicine are sexual dysfunction, infertility, frequent urination and night wetting. These can all
result directly from excessive fear.

Herbal Remedies
Chinese herbal remedies have been a part of Traditional Chinese Medicine for over 4,000 years.
They have played an important role in preventing and treating diseases, enhancing body
functions and promoting health. Chinese herbal remedies are commonly used in carefully

prepared combinations. There are three ways to beneficially use combinations of herbs.

    1.  A combination of two or more herbs in one prescription creates a stronger effect.

    2.  Certain herbs are used to reduce or eliminate side effects of other herbs.

    3.  Each herb influences different parts of the body or different organs. Remedies are used to create more

         balance in the body.

The most popular classical formulas for cultivation of each of the five organs are:

Calming Essence for Liver
Indication: For stagnation of the liver Qi with deficiency of blood, manifested as depression,
mood swings, irritability, headache, dizziness, mental weariness, distention in the breast,
irregular menstruation, or PMS.
For PMS take 10 days before menstruation and throughout the cycle.
For mood swings, take for 1 week at a time, and for depression take for about 3 months.
Comments: This formula has been proven clinically and experimentally to invigorate the spleen,
nourish the blood and strengthen the stomach to promote digestion. It has been shown to soothe
the liver, combating feelings of depression and tranquilizing the mind
Ingredients: Bupleurum, Chinese Angelica Root, White Peony, Hoelen, White Atractylodes,
Roasted Ginger , Mentha, Processed Licorice, Natural Orange Tangerine Flavor.
Source: Prescriptions of Traditional Chinese Medicine

Spirit Essence for Heart
Indication: For deficiency of heart Qi and Yin due to loss of body fluids manifested as general
debility, shortness of breath, disinclination to talk, thirst with profuse sweating, or palpitation
and fatigue.
Take as needed or for general weakness take periodically for a 2 week period with a 3-5 day rest.
Comments: Clinically and experimentally, it has been proven that this formula is effective for
reinforcing the function of the heart, promoting digestion and absorption, strengthening the basic
functions, inducing diuresis, arresting sweat, maintaining body fluids, and nourishing the organs
to consolidate the constitution
Ingredients: Ginseng, Ophiopogon Root, Schizandra, Natural Raspberry Lemon Flavor.

Source: Prescriptions of Traditional Chinese Medicine

Qi Booster for Spleen
Indication: For deficiency of energy or weak spleen Qi manifested as low energy, weak muscles,
lack of concentration, poor memory, loose stool, pale complexion, or low and weak voice.
Take as needed or for general weakness take periodically for a 2 week period with a 3-5 day rest.
Comments: Modern studies have confirmed that this combination is effective for stimulating the
central nervous system, facilitating functional activities, promoting metabolism, digestion and
absorption, regulating gastrointestinal functions, arresting diarrhea, relieving swelling, and
inducing diuresis.
Ingredients: Codonopsis, White Atractylodes, Hoelen, Processed Licorice, Natural Raspberry
Lemon flavor.
Source: Prescriptions of Traditional Chinese Medicine

Defense Enhancer for Lungs
Indication: For failure of superficial-qi to protect the body against pathogens marked by
spontaneous perspiration, excessive sweating, susceptibility to the common cold, pale
complexion, or stable stage of allergies or asthma.
Take periodically for 4 weeks at a time then rest for 1 week.
Comments: Modern research has proven that this formula has the effects of improving blood
circulation and the nutrition of skin, regulating the functional activities of the sweat gland, and
strengthening immunity. This formula is not suitable for people with night sweat due to interior
heat caused by deficiency of yin.
Ingredients: Siler, Astragalus, White Atractylodes, Natural Tangerine Orange Flavor.
Source: Prescriptions of Traditional Chinese Medicine

Vital Energy Tonic for Kidneys
Indication: For people of mature age with deficiency of vital essence and Qi of the kidney
manifested as weakness, low sexual energy, soreness of the waist and knees, vertigo, tinnitus,
deafness, night sweat, emission, feverish sensation in the palms and soles, dry mouth and throat,
hot flashes, vaginal dryness, insomnia, or irritability .
Can be taken for a long period of time.
Comments: Clinically and experimentally, this formula has been proven to have the effects of
nourishing the body, consolidating the constitution, inhibiting hypercatabolism, reducing
excitement of the brain, adjusting endocrine functions and vegetative nerve functions, lowering
blood pressure and blood sugar, inducing diuresis, improving the function of the kidneys,
improving the epithelial hyperplasia of the esophagus, and preventing cancer.
Ingredients: Processed Rehmannia, Cornus, Dioscorea, Alisma, Hoelen, Moutan, Natural Orange
Tangerine Flavor.
Source: Prescriptions of Traditional Chinese Medicine

In addition to diet, exercise, emotion management and herbal remedies, seasonal cultivation of
the organs is also important. Spring is the season of wood. Liver imbalances tend to act up in the
spring. Spring is a time when one must be concerned about the liver. Summer is the season of
fire. High temperatures can cause excessive inner fire, damaging the heart. Place special
attention on the heart in the summer. Mid-summer is the season of earth. Dampness can effect digestion as the stomach and the spleen are vulnerable at this time. Fall is the season of metal.
Fall dryness can weaken the lungs in general. Winter is the season of water. Coldness can
damage kidney functions. One must tonify the kidneys in the winter season. Adjustments in
one’s environment must be reflected in our lives.

The foundations of cultivation of the qi of the five organs are based on this principle of unity
between humans and the rest of the universe. This is crucial in order to be in harmony with
nature. One must manage emotional changes to maintain inner peace. One must eat and act
sensibly to enhance body mechanism and to prevent illnesses. In this way the qi of the five
organs can be cultivated, and in this way is the secret to health of Traditional Chinese Medicine.