Body Fluids

The concepts of yin and yang, the five elements, energy, blood, and body fluids are fundamental to Chinese medical philosophy and are used to understand the relationships among the body's systems, diagnose diseases, and develop treatment strategies. Energy is the motor of all human activities, and all human activities are a function of energy. When energy is disordered, it can cause various types of organ disorders. Conversely, organ disorders can cause energy disorders. The disorders of energy are generally divided into two categories: deficiency and excess. Deficiency means shortage, with symptoms of low functioning and decline. Excess means too much, with symptoms of congestion and blockage.

Body fluids refer to the water in the body under normal circumstances. The functions of body fluids are to water and lubricate internal organs, muscles, skin, hair, membranes, and cavities; lubricate the joints; and moisten and nourish the brain, marrow, and bones. Body fluids can be divided into clear fluids and turbid fluids. Clear fluids are spread in the muscles and membranes to moisten the muscles, skin, and hair, as well as the cavities of the senses, namely the eyes, ears, mouth, and nose. Perspiration and urine are products of clear fluids. Turbid fluids are spread in the internal organs to nourish such organs as the brain, marrow, and bones and to lubricate the intestines and bladder.

The Yellow Emperor's Classics of Internal Medicine provides insight into the interrelationship between the stomach, spleen, and lungs in the production, transportation, and transformation of body fluids. The stomach transmits pure energy to the spleen, which then spreads the pure energy upward to the lungs. The lungs properly regulate the passage of waterways in pure energy, and the energy of water then spreads in various meridians, including the meridians of the five viscera.

The kidneys play a crucial role in the production and metabolism of body fluids, as all the organs involved in body fluids depend on the warming and pushing power of the kidneys, including the stomach, spleen, and lungs. The production and excretion of urine and the metabolism of water throughout the whole body are inseparable from the transforming function of the kidneys.

Insufficient sources and excessive loss and consumption are the two basic causes of insufficient body fluids. The first cause may be due to insufficient intake of water and failure of water to transform into body fluids, while the second may be due to the attack of a "hot" pathogen, excessive perspiration, vomiting, and diarrhea. Failure of water to transform into body fluids with water retention can be caused by such factors as excessive intake of salty or spicy foods, consumption of alcohol, kidney deficiency, and fluid retention.

Diagnosis and differentiation of syndromes involving body fluids are mainly based on the quantity and quality of the fluids, including the ratio of clear to turbid fluids, the condition of the organs and tissues moistened by the fluids, and the causes and pathogenic factors leading to the syndrome. Treatment of body fluid disorders involves nourishing and regulating the organs responsible for production and transportation of fluids, clearing away heat and promoting diuresis, and promoting circulation and removing stagnation. Herbal medicine, acupuncture, and dietary therapy are among the commonly used treatment modalities.

In summary, Chinese medical philosophy takes a holistic approach to health, emphasizing the balance of the body's systems and promoting overall well-being. Understanding the concepts of yin and yang, the five elements, energy, blood, and body fluids is essential in diagnosing diseases and developing effective treatment strategies.