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Addendum to "The Neti Pot":
A Chinese Medicinal Perspective

This addendum is an extract from the original "The Neti Pot" article. The article was on the voluminous side and since this material stands well on its own, it seemed apt to set them somewhat apart.

The vast level of holism and interconnectedness of Chinese physiology fully supports that use of the Neti Pot offers system wide benefits, across the body/mind/spirit. Let's take a good look at how that’s possible.

The function of Lung is a great place to begin the conversation. Its physical influence begins at the nostril and encompasses the nasal cavity, throat, trachea and the lungs themselves. Lung is known as “the tender organ” due to its vulnerability to external influences. Inhalation though, provides the “pure qi” necessary for life, and gives Lung governance over numerous functions. Because “qi rules blood,” blood wouldn’t move (circulation) or know where to go (vessels), if it weren’t for qi. Lung also regulates the “transformation and transportation of fluids,” assuring the descent of the heavy, turbid and impure, while the pure arise to where they “mist the exterior,” providing nourishment to the skin. They ultimately get sweated out, salivated and cried away. Lung further provides that our defensive forces or “wei qi” are circulating the exterior, always ready to fight off any nasty invaders. On a psycho-spiritual level Lung grants us the capacity to receive heavenly influence as inspiration. It upholds the essence of our spiritual life and our connection to the sacred. Day to day, Lung is experienced as our ability to acknowledge and accept what is, and honor and keep precious that which we truly value. It’s all good stuff; and it all begins at our nostrils.

Lung is only one of the 12 organs, or energies, within Chinese physiology. I use the word “organ” reluctantly. It suggests structure, and although “Lung qi” ultimately manifests into a physical pair of lungs, as you see, it’s wholly more a matter of its functioning, or sphere of influence. When all 12 spheres exist together, what manifests is every aspect of a living being with body/mind/spirit. Every cell in our bodies, every thought and experience “is” the qi of all 12 organs. They’re everywhere, all the time.

There are 6 Yin and 6 Yang organs. The Yin/Yang relationship is that of the intertransformation, interdependency, and mutual consumption of opposites. Like the cycles of days and nights, all of life is fundamentally governed and maintained by the principles of Yin/Yang. Yin is deeper, darker, cooler and less active, while Yang is more superficial, brighter, warmer, and busier. The Yin organs oversee the manufacturing and deep storage of “precious substances.” Yang organs transport and transform the raw nourishment we take in through food and life, and either deliver the rarified “pure” to the Yin organ storehouses, or eliminate the impure as waste.

Looking through a different, overlapping lens – one that offers the acupuncturist the ability to access the qi of the 12 organs, we have the 12 primary Meridians. Meridians are the rivers of energy that course through the landscapes of our bodies. Acupuncture points are situated along these rivers. As with their corresponding organs, there are 6 Yin and 6 Yang, all in extensive relationship and communication with one another. The superficial Yang meridians bring our perceptions of life experience deep into their precious Yin sisters. The quality of who we are and how we function is nourished and defined by the quality of what gets stored in our Yin organs. Yang, by its more superficial and apparent nature, brings that quality out into the world, while continuing to nourish and help define the Yin via the internalization of our perceptions and experiences. The Yin meridians converge at the torso at their respective Yin western organs. Yin organs are considered “most important,” and are anatomically tucked up behind our ribs for protection. The Yang meridians converge upon the face and head, at the sensory orifices.

Through the lens of The 5 Elements, each Yang meridian/organ, is paired with a Yin sister. For example, Lung(Yin) is paired with Colon(Yang). Together they constitute the Metal Element, and its dynamic of inspiring heavenly influence while letting go of, or eliminating that which is unnecessary as waste. As the Lung meridian begins at the chest and flows down the arm to the thumb, Colon begins at the index finger and flows up the arm to the face where it terminates next to the nostril and extends into the nose and throat. Neti Pot, anyone?

Another relevant Element when discussing the face is Earth, comprised of Spleen (Yin) and Stomach (Yang). The termination of the Colon meridian at the nose is actually a transformation into Stomach qi throughout the face. The Stomach meridian itself begins just below the eye, encompasses the sinuses, and flows down the face, neck, body and legs to the 2nd toe. It then transforms into the Spleen meridian at the big toe. The dynamic within the Earth Element is one of taking in and giving back nourishment. We take in nourishment from food and from life via Stomach, whose physical influence aptly begins at the mouth. This raw material is brought to Spleen where it’s cooked down, digested, and assimilated. The purest essences from this transformation arise to become another important aspect of our qi, and are then distributed throughout the body/mind/spirit, thus given back as nourishment.

When it comes to nourishment, it all originates where Stomach begins (at the mouth) and terminates where Colon ends. This dramatic polarization creates another Yin/Yang pair, known as Yang Ming. Don’t worry about the name; just know that of all the Yang meridians that converge upon the face, Stomach and Colon are the most relevant, as the mouth, nose and eyes are directly associated, and where on a meridian level, Colon transforms into Stomach. Yang Ming thusly is understood to “govern the face.” So, grab your Neti Pots and get to it!

While we’re on a roll, I might as well mention the fact that Spleen makes qi from raw materials, and Lung receives qi from the heavens. Here we have yet another Yin/Yang pair known as “Tai Yin” representing the unrefined/heavenly origins of “acquired qi.” The assimilation process belonging to Spleen yields both “the pure and the impure.” Lung’s descending function pushes down the impure to be either further processed, or eliminated by the Colon, while Spleen brings about “the arisal of the clear,” or pure essences from raw material provided by Stomach. I might add that “pure” is relative to that particular transformation. There are numerous more rarifying processes that qi goes through before we can even begin to exist. I’ll also remind you that the functioning of Tai Yin, or Spleen/Lung, begins and ends with Stomach/Colon, as Yang Ming, and its convergence upon the face. How then can Neti Pot not benefit the functions of digestion and assimilation, qi production, pathogen destruction, water regulation, and elimination? It just can’t.

Of the 12 organs I’ve only mentioned 4. It’s important to recognize that the other 8 play critical roles in every aspect of all the functioning we’ve discussed. Further, there are numerous additional functions “primarily” associated with other organs, which are utterly hinged upon the quality of Stomach, Spleen, Colon and Lung. Every aspect of our being is a function of all 12 organs working together to maintain a homeostatic balance across the body/mind/spirit.

For our purposes though, the simplest, most linear way to assimilate the holistic Neti Pot conversation is by knowing that all Yang meridians converge upon the face and head. All have primary associations with sensory orifices, and are influenced by the quality of the nasal cavity. By clarifying and appropriating the functioning of the nasal cavity, we’re clarifying and appropriating the functioning of the Yang, and the quality of the Yang defines the quality of the Yin.

June 2014


Back to The Neti Pot.

Oil Pulling: Wash your mouth out with oil. Your whole body will love it.
(the relationships discussed above, similarly apply to the oil puling conversation as well.)

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