The Lower “Burner”
“In Chinese Medicine,” Emily began, “we have this concept called jiaos (jee-ows) that mean more or less burners – like grills. They are upper, middle, and lower. The lower burner is three things. One: it is everything below your
umbilicus (belly button). Secondly, it is also the contents of your lower abdominal cavity, some of which we just talked about. And finally, it is the waste removing portions of your cells, because the membranes and transport aspects of the cells do on a microscopic level what the San Jiao channel does on a macroscopic level.”
Arty nodded thoughtfully as though he understood. “And this is important I suppose…?”
Emily laughed, “Yes, what I was going to say is that waste disposal is vital to your health, and the San Jiao is often a great indicator of your waste management. Take a look at the back of your arms, Arty. See those liver spots?”
He nodded as he rubbed them, “Had these for years…”
“Not all at once, though, right? They started in your what… 40s and grew.”
“30s,” Sclerosa piped in. Arty eyeballed her.
“What’s it mean?”
“Well, we have these in between layers in the body where fluid is supposed to travel back and forth, carrying nutrients and poisons out of the body. also, our cells store things in these places to protect us. When there is a backup one of two things – or both – can happen. One is we cna see the backup of these deposits in the flesh and under the skin. Like jaundice for example. Or Gout. The other thing is that because the channel is hot, it will slowly cook these fluids and make brown spots, and they’ll sit there. Especially if you’ve used your arms a lot, you will have more tension blocking the flow of the channels on the arms. But the interesting thing is that people with skin issues often also have colon issues.”
“Right!” Sclerosa blurted out, “Like your cousin Connie. She has colitis and eczema.”
“They never seemed related to me,” Arty frowned, “But then again I always thought she had a constipated personality!” he laughed uproariously.
Sclerosa shook her head, “Doctor,” she said cordially, “what are you trying to get at?”
“Well, Rosa, I am more or less trying to bring up the conversation about your overall health, and bowel movements.”
“Well, doc, I tell ya… I have to watch what I eat a lot, and everything upsets my stomach. My energy seems affected by it, too. Although mid-day it always drops off anyhow. And I may go several days between BMs.”
“And as for me,” Rosa said, “I get these really foul, loose stools, sometimes undigested.”
Emily nodded, “Both symptoms of different forms of Qi deficiency. In one case there isn’t enough metal or colon Qi to move the bowels. In the other case there isn’t enough earth or “spleen” Qi to digest the food nor enough water or kidney Qi to hold them in. One is stoppage, the other is falling out. Both reflect a prolonged state of dis-ease within the abdomen. And they are certainly related to your other conditions…”
“Right, before we were about to talk about my… female problems. How’d you get onto this topic?”
“Well female reproductive systems are also reflected in the Lower Burner. Your case involves some amount of what is termed ‘turbidity’ [lit: dirtyness] or damp-heat pouring down, literally. It is excess, because it isn’t supposed to be there. I imagine you’re having menstrual issues before that?”
“Well, yes. I had trouble starting menses, didn’t start till I was older like 17. Then I had too long a flow, then too short, then it was all over the place so they put me on a birth control pill, but I had to stop because a couple years in I started having pains. Then they told me I had endometriosis and uterine fibroids, then we barely had kids because I might have had some cysts… about then is when the discharge started and I noticed my bowels started becoming kind of loose too. I went to the doctor and they checked me for colitis but I was fine. Truth is, they don’t know what’s going on, I’ve been on anti-biotics and anti-fungal douches, but nothing makes a lasting impact. I was also on steroids for a little bit and the discharge was whiter, but once I stopped it was more yellow and greater in volume.”
Emily sighed. “Yes, in your case, the Qi deficiency has gone from inherited, to bad to worse, and now there is very little immune Qi to fight off the infection. I’m afraid we’re going to need to apply external herbs to get rid of infection and internal herbs to restore Qi and regulate menstruation, and we’re going to have to do moxa as well to the abdomen to restore your Earth or ‘Center’s Qi.'”
“What does that mean?”
“It means that you have too much coldness and damp [lit: humidity] within your center where the Sea of Qi is – your energy source – and this is generating heat below the navel. Your channels are so full that it is now leaking out of your cells and into your pelvic cavity. Meanwhile, no doubt you need internal herbs to restore your Kidneys, meaning your adrenals. Is urine ok?”
“Oh yeah, it’s too much, to tell you the truth. But my low back is always cold and I’ve had a couple stones.”
“Well what about bones?”
“I’ve been diagnosed with osteomalacia, mother had osteoporosis. I get a lot of knee, hip, and back pain. Doctor told me it was my weight, but to tell you the truth I always felt ‘uncomfortable’ even back in high school.”
“Well then we should have another endocrine panel and CBC/diff run to screen for a few possible western diagnoses that should not be missed. Especially hypercalcemia.”
“I might have those…”
“You should bring them in your next visit since you forgot them today…”
“You say Kidneys, I’m guessing in Chinese Medicine that means more than in Western?” Arty asked.
“Oh yes, the Chinese KI actually includes the genitals, adrenals, most of the endocrine system, including the portion that regulates your blood pressure. The Kidneys also govern the ears and essence. Essence is like your bank account your parents give you, and you add or subtract from as you age.”
“So if I have kidney issues… it’s related to my ED?”
“Absolutely. In our medicine there is another concept called the “Minister’s Fire” also known as the Ming Men or “life gate”. Basically what we’re talking about is the renin-angiotensin and DHEA-S and ACTH/Cortisol relationship. Of course, all you guys care about is your Testosterone and Adrenaline (Epinephrine) … because you think that burns out first and then the KI Qi is weak. Actually it’s too much use of those and the others start to fail and you cannot make enough.”
“Well not me, I just thought I was getting old and lazy!” Arty smiled.
“Well you laugh now, but in our medicine we call the testes the ‘external kidneys’ not only because they look that way but because the entire endocrine system is a very intricate yin/yang axis that goes from the testicles (or ovaries) up to the glands inside your head. Your diabetes and thymus (immune) function and especially cardiovascular health are stuck in between the waning of your Kidney Fire and the lack of Qi flow to and from your upper Jiao. All because of your middle jiao’s issues. Which we’ll get to in a moment.
“Hold on, doc,” Arty said, “How come no one ever told me this before? I mean that all sounds biomediciny enough to me. Seems like they’d know all this…”
“Arty up until the last 15 years the western community has had a very mechanical view of the body. And that’s fine for sickness, saving lives, surgery, etc… but is not very useful for living healthily in a world that is intricately connected. Everything around us has an influence on our health. The air, water, food we consume, the sleep we get – or don’t – the films and music we take in, the type of news and events we read, how passionate or dispassionate we are about life or tragic parts of life usually. Even our emotions, everything. Before people get sick with the flu, they don’t need to catch the flu, they are usually already carrying it. All they really need is a series of mishaps to weaken their bodies and then BAM!” she gesticulated wildly, “They’re sick. We don’t notice the connections, but they’re there. What you eat goes through your portal return system, gets filtered by the Liver – angering it or making it happy, usually angry – and then to the heart where it is distributed everywhere. It isn’t just your pancreas that receives the assault of hyperglucemia, the brain, kidneys, and yes, testicles feel it too. And compensation is what the body is built to do – up to a point – and then, point in fact research has shown… it’ pre-programmed for early cell termination.”
And on that bombshell, they dove into the subject of the abdominal cavity’s health and disease.