Jing, Qi, Shen
The Three Treasures–
Jing, Qi, Shen
There is a saying from ancient China, “ the sky has the three treasures of the sun, moon, and stars, and people have the three treasures of Jing (Essence), Qi ( Energy), Shen (Mind-Spirit).”
So what are Jing, Qi, Shen? In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) , Jing, Qi, Shen are actually a summary of a person’s constitution, which is the basic substances, physiological functions, and psycho-emotional state that constitute the human body. The Taoist Medicine believes they are the foundation of life, and health, happiness, vitality, mental stability and clarity all depend on a good supply of these three vital substances and their harmonious interactions.
Jing (Essence) is the origin of life, the foundation of Qi and Shen. It refers to all nutrients in the human body, which can be divided into prenatal and postnatal essence. The prenatal essence is called Kidney Essence, as it is the genetic materials inherited from parents at the time of conception, that is stored in the Kidneys. The postnatal essence is acquired from the food and nutrients digested and absorbed by the human body. As in ancient times, it’s called “water and grain essence”. To maintain sufficient Essence, one has to make sure the nutrients ingested are comprehensive, sufficient, and balanced to meet the needs of body function.
Qi (Energy) is the power of life, the refined energy that nourishes the Jing and Shen. Qi is related to the Lungs. In TCM, Qi not only refers to the breath we inhale and exhale, it also represents the functional power of all the internal organs. For example, Lung Qi circulates the defensive qi on the surface of the body, providing warmth and protection. If Lung Qi is deficient, the immune system is weakened and one is prone to falling sick. Spleen Qi transforms food and drinks into qi and blood, and transports qi, blood and body fluids to the whole body. When Spleen Qi is deficient, one experiences fatigue, poor appetite, weak muscles, fluid retention, weight gain, poor concentration, etc. The factors that deplete qi of the organs include aging, improper diet, overexertion, and emotional imbalances.
Shen (Mind-Spirit) is the embodiment of life, the most refined and immaterial of the three substances. It is related to the Heart. The state of Shen relies on the state of Jing and Qi as its fundamental basis. It draws its nourishment from the prenatal Essence stored in the Kidneys and the post-natal Essence and Qi produced by Lungs, Stomach and Spleen. So if Jing and Qi are strong and flourishing, Shen will be happy, grounded, and alert. If Jing and Qi are depleted, Shen will suffer and likely become depressed, anxious or unstable.
How is Jing Qi Shen Related to Fertility?
Jing in Chinese Medicine is intimately involved in fertility. Jing represents our essence, our genetic makeup. Jing is the essence of the sperm and egg that combine to form life. There are two ways one can become deficient in Jing. Either one is born with less prenatal Jing or the body becomes Jing deficient through illness, stress, overworking, or major Type A behavior. Jing deficiency manifests in women as late menarche (later than 16 years old), underdeveloped sexual characteristics, and low ovarian reserve. In men, Jing deficiency manifests as underdeveloped sexual characteristics, late puberty and extremely low sperm production. In TCM, we support and nourish Jing with proper nutrition, adequate rest, medication, and Chinese herbal therapy. It is a long term strategy due to the need for deeply nourishing the body.
Qi is the energy that enlivens and activates the body. Oftentimes the body is neither severely deficient in Jing nor infertile, but rather just imbalanced. The imbalance is generally due to the use of birth control pills, an unhealthy diet, and stress. These are the cases when Chinese medicine excels. With a proper diet and lifestyle changes as the foundation, acupuncture and herbs work to balance the energy of the body.
Shen is our spirit, which resides in our heart. Anxiety, insomnia and emotional stress caused by not being able to conceive creates energy blockage, can potentially disrupt the HPO (hypothalamus-pituitary-ovary) axis, and interrupt ovulation. We treat Shen disorders with acupuncture, herbal therapy and meditation.
If you are interested in learning how we can help you improve your fertility potential through Traditional Chinese Medicine, please give us a call today to schedule an in depth consultation with our fertility acupuncturist.
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