The Large Intestine is located in the abdomen. The upper end of the Large Intestine connects to the final section of the Small Intestine, called ileum. The lower end of the Large Intestine ends in the anus.
The function of the Large Intestine is to receive waste material that is sent down by the Small Intestine, absorb its fluid content, and form with what is left feces for secretion. The role of this body organ is essential as it helps eliminating waste from the body thus protecting the body from accumulation of toxins. Therefore according to traditional Chinese medicine the Qi of the Large Intestine needs to constantly move forward in order to move the waste down for excretion. Thus on a mental level a healthy Large Intestine may represent ones ability to let go of the past move forward in life.
The partner organ of the Large Intestine is the Lung. The Qi of the Lung also needs to move downward. It is the uppermost organ of the torso, and as such it sends Qi down to the remaining organs for nourishment.
Since the Lung and the Large Intestine work in partnership they are codependent on each other. If the Lung Qi is deficient it ceases to move downward, thus the Qi of the Large Intestine will eventually also become deficient, resulting in constipation (not enough energy to forward the waste). Vice versa – if the Large Intestine ceases to forward waste the Lung may become “blocked”, the descending of the Lung Qi will cease, and there may be breathlessness. (1)
“Dryness” is also typical Lung/Large Intestine partnership pattern. Together with the Spleen and the Kidney the Lung is in charge of the body's water metabolism. The Lung receives refined fluids from the Spleenand distributes them to the body’s skin and body's mucus membranes. Chronic unhealthy habits such as smoking and living in hot and polluted areas, “dry” out the Lung. This “dryness” gets eventually transferred to the partner organ Large Intestine, resulting in constipation (not enough fluids to nourish the Intestine and move forward the waste).
The opposite pattern - "dampness" – is also possible. "Dampness" can be viewed as fluid retention resulting in phlegm in the Lung, and loose stool and diarrhea in the Large Intestine. The cause for this syndrome is either living in a damp environment or imbalance in the healthy water metabolism, governed by the Lung, Spleen and Kidneys.
The symptoms of “dryness” and “dampness” in the Lung/Large Intestine partnership do not always manifest in both organs simultaneously. Nevertheless it is important to always take in account both organs even if only one manifests disbalance. Often stimulating the partner organ together with the imbalanced organ gives quicker and better results.
(1) Maciocia, Giovanni (1989). The Foundations of Chinese Medicine. Nanjing: Harcourt Publishers Limited
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