The five senses and how they display the internal organs

The five senses and how they display the internal organs

Chinese medicine considers that the body is connected to each other, externally and internally. This theory is a very important principle used in TCM, based on 5 elements and channel theory. Each single sense which displays a problem will indicate certain internal organ imbalance. TCM uses this principle along with other methods to diagnose and treat conditions which delivers very successful results. To share this knowledge first of all, I wish to list the connection between the 5 sense and their relative internal organs.
Lung — nose and throat.
Liver — the eyes.
Kidneys — the ears.
Heart — tongue.
Spleen — mouth.

Now I will give you examples, for you to understand the connection between the external and internal organs.

1) Lung

Chinese medicine considers that the lung has a defensive function, so if someone where to be attacked by the flu or cold (pathogenic effect such as wind or cold), the lung is the first line of defense but is also the organ to be affected. This will result in symptoms such as sneezing and sore throat indicating that the lungs are trying to fight the pathogen. Those with lung deficiencies, the lung will be weaker on its defensive function and will result in constant flu and cold like symptoms. These people will also quite often have the following symptoms such as lack of energy, short of breath, chronic mild cough, itchy nose and dislike the wind, indicating the lung is not functioning optimally.Quite often in my clinic, we get many people come to see me about constant colds/flu’s which they are unable to get rid of. I will use this method of diagnosis and treatment to balance the lung function and increase lung energy to boost the immune system. After this principle of treatment your body will not be as susceptible to the cold/flu.
Sometimes we use this theory to treat hay fever, which is due to lung deficiency as well.

2) Liver

I remember one lady who came to see me with burning, red and itchy eyes which was present for 3 months. She was treated in a variety of ways but they were not improving. I used traditional 5 element diagnosis to find out that her liver had lots of toxins and heat. Along with the eye symptoms she also experienced depression, vivid dreams, insomnia, difficulty falling asleep, constipation, pain around the side of abdomen area and breasts full and painful before her period. Her pulse was very tight and edge of the tongue was very red. All these symptoms indicate the liver having lots of heat and tension. So I told her what I had found giving her acupuncture treatment and herbal medicine for the liver. After three sessions the eye symptoms all disappeared and her general well-being improved.

3) Kidneys

Chinese medicine considers that the kidneys contain the bodies original essence, which has the opening to the ear and sends Qi and energy to the ear. Generally, adults (18 – 60 years old) have strong Qi from the kidney and the kidney gives the Qi energy to the ears to keep them functioning optimally. However, naturally when people age this Qi gets weaker and weaker, which is why most old age hearing is not as good as younger adults. But if before 60 year old your hearing is not very good, it usually indicates you have a kidney disorder. So it is important to look after your kidneys.

4) Heart

TCM considers the heart and tongue to be connected, imbalances and heat of the heart will present in the tongue with some of the following symptoms such as burning, pain, redness and ulcers on the tongue. Which is due to emotion and stress causing heat to build up in the heart, displaying in the tongue. These people will usually have the following symptoms such as anxiety, vivd dreams, insomnia, red face, easy to perspire on the chest, neck, face and palm.

5) Spleen and ulcer around the mouth (sometimes called cold sore)

Chinese medicine considers the spleen is a very important organ which dominates the digestion system. After eating the spleen should transport the food down along the digestive system on time and help to digest food properly. However if someone has a spleen deficiency, it will result in the spleen unable to dominate digestion which makes food stagnant and cause heat in the digestive system resulting in cold sores around the mouth or lips. For these people, they may have the following symptoms such as bloating in abdomen, constipation or sluggish bowl movement, lack of energy, heavy or puffy legs or arms, bad breath or smelly wind. We use the 5 elements to diagnose and treat the spleen disorder. If the spleen function is not improved, and the causes of the cold sores are not treated, the ulcer around the mouth will very often subside but then return. If you are prone to ulcers around the mouth, this indicates that the spleen and digestive system are needed to be balanced. From this case we can see that TCM not only treats the symptoms on the surface of the body but also the internal imbalances.

The 5 senses principle is fundamental in TCM as the external signals on the outside of the body are not only displaying superficial disorders but is relaying internal organ imbalances. If you use this theory to treat the superficial problems it can help to prevent larger internal organ disorders.

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Dr Ping Wang is the clinic founder and senior practitioner of Ping Ming Health. She has over 30 years of experience in traditional Chinese medicine teaching and practice. Dr Ping especially enjoys sharing her knowledge of Chinese medicine through our popular clinic articles, seminars and clinical training of students and practitioners.