TCM understands gender variation in physiology and disease development, as it is necessary for these differences to be understood to understand the characteristics of women's diseases.
Generally, men and women's organs, meridians, blood and qi (vital energy) have similar activities but women have special physiological structures like the uterus that affect menstruation, pregnancy, childbirth and lactation. These organs especially need blood and qi (vital energy) to function with the meridians acting as communicating channels. As a result, the physiological functions are dependent upon the promotional effects of the organs, meridians, blood and qi (vital energy) working together.
The Extra Eight Meridians
Normal physiological functioning also depends on the proper regulation of the standard nomenclatures of the eight meridians. Because the majority of uterine qi and blood travels within these meridians, the relationship of the uterus and the extra meridian network is extremely close.
The extra eight meridians include the Governor Vessel, Conception Vessel, Thoroughfare Vessel, Girdling Vessel, Yin Link Vessel, Yang Link Vessel, Yin Heel Vessel and Yang Heel Vessel. Unlike the twelve regular meridians, these eight vessels are not distributed regularly but are situated in a rather complex pattern among the regular meridians. Their main function is to strengthen the links between the twelve regular meridians and to regulate qi and blood circulation. They have special relationships with the liver, kidney, uterus, brain and marrow and thus influence these structures physiologically and pathologically. These vessels do not possess direct connections or interior-exterior relationships with the zang organs and fu organs.
The Governor Vessel (du mai) originates from the perineum just before the anus, runs in the midline up along the spinal column and reaches the head finally. This meridian meets all the Yang meridians, thus is called the "sea of the yang meridians." It is responsible for governing the qi for all the yang meridians of the body. This vessel has close relationships with the brain, spinal cord and kidney respectively. Since it communicates with the brain, it can be regarded as a link similar to the pituitary-adrenal axis in Western medicine. In women, this vessel makes blood exit the body during menstruation.
The Conception Vessel (ren mai) originates from the perineum, runs along the anterior midline of the abdomen, passes through the cheek and enters into the eye socket finally. It meets all the yin meridians, and thus is called the "sea of the yin meridians." It is responsible for receiving and bearing the qi of the yin meridians. In women, this meridian is thought to originate in the uterus where the fetus is nourished, thus there is a saying that "the Conception Vessel dominates the uterus and pregnancy." It provides yin substances for all women's physiological activities.
The Thoroughfare Vessel (chong mai) originates in the pelvic cavity and runs alongside the kidney meridian up to the thorax. It is regarded as the “sea of blood," which is the place for the twelve regular meridians to converge and where it helps regulate the qi and blood inside them. This vessel influences the supply and proper movement of blood in the uterus, and is closely related to the menses. The main difference between the Thoroughfare Vessel and Conception Vessel in relation to menstruation is that the Conception Vessel controls qi and can be used to tonify and nourish, where as the Thoroughfare Vessel controls blood, and is used to move qi and blood and to remove obstructions.
The Girdling Vessel (dai mai) originates below the rib side, runs down along the lateral side of loin and encircles the waist. It passes through the uterus like a girdle. The Girdling Vessel retains the meridians of the entire body, promoting their interconnected relationships. In women, it also takes charge of nourishing and lubricating the uterus and controls vaginal discharge.
These and other Traditional Chinese practices all form part of TCM, each adding a little to the history and methodology of Acupuncture and Herbs and their ability to help with Infertility.
Eca Brady is a fully licensed physician of Traditional Chinese Medicine BSc(Ac) MBAcC, focusing on Female Infertility with Acupuncture and Chinese Herbs from Harley Street, London.
Make an appointment for an acupuncture or Herbs treatment and we can discuss how we can help you if you suffer from Infertility, to read more about Eca click here or to read more about TCM and increasing your chances fertility click here.