The small intestine is responsible for absorbing nutrients from the food we ingest. It receives the processed food from the Stomach which is already broken down into a liquid. As this liquid flows across the inner surface of the Small Intestine nutrients within the food come into contact with the many small blood vessels, which surround the Small Intestine. This blood then leaves the Small Intestine, carrying away nutrients, water electrolytes, vitamins, minerals, fats, and medications to the entire body.
The Small Intestine also governs the separation of fluids. After the fluids are passed down to the Small Intestine from the Stomach, they are separated into “clean” fluids, which are reabsorbed by the Large Intestine, and “turbid” fluids, which are send to the urinary bladder and excreted as urine. (1)
In traditional Chinese medicine the Small Intestine is the partner organ of the Heart. It is quite peculiar why both organs work in partnership as their physiological functions are completely dissimilar. The reason for that may be the mental manifestation of both organs.
In traditional Chinese medicine the Heart houses the mind. It is responsible for virtually all mental activities, including emotions, consciousness, memory, thinking, and sleep. These mental activities all rely on the ability to make clear judgment, which is governed by the Small Intestine.
Since the Small Intestine on a physiological level is responsible for separating clear fluids from turbid fluids, on a mental level it governs the mental ability to separate what is right from what is wrong. This ability to have clear judgment is essential to carry out our mental activity. Vice versa – the ability to distinguish what is right from what is wrong depends on our mental capacity. Thus the Small Intestine and the Heart coexist in a partnership. People with healthy Small Intestine have the ability to distinguish relevant issues with clarity while people with imbalanced Small Intestine have difficulty to recognise available options and make a right choice. (1)
(1) Maciocia, Giovanni (1989). The Foundations of Chinese Medicine. Nanjing: Harcourt Publishers Limited
Herbs that calm the spirit and clear heat in the Heart
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