The Pericardium In Chinese Medicine

Written By Ray Ford.

In ancient Chinese culture Imperial court ministers were appointed to think about and manage different aspects of society.

In Chinese medical thought, the different organs are analogous to ministers or officials: Lung is seen as the Prime Minister, Liver the General, Stomach the Minister of Granaries, etc. The Heart (HT) is seen as the Emperor that rules over all others organs. The relationship between the HT and PC allows the PC to act as the ambassador of the heart, spreading joy and happiness.The HT is the container for the shen (spirit) but it is the Pericardium(PC) that does the beating of the heart.

The Ling Shu (spiritual pivot) says, “Pathogenic factors that will attack the heart must first attack the pericardium(PC).”The PC is seen as the HT/Emperor’s protector or “civil servant” and as such, has the role of protecting the HT both from external pathogens (viruses) and from internal or emotional damage.

The PC as the emotional protector, screens and protects the consciousness from being overwhelmed by the sensory and emotional overload that can happen in relationships or in the external world.When there is a problem with either, we can treat using acupuncture. Points along the PC channel address either physiological problems or pain such as angina as well as emotional issues such as anxiety or sadness. Chinese medicine describes anxiety as “fullness under the heart”, this reflects the understanding that anxiety can be felt as pressure under the diaphragm that may be caused by a number of issues: digestive problems and chronic stress being two of the main ones.Points on the PC channel are often used for these types of problems.

The physical anatomy of the PC consists of two layers of connective tissue, which surrounds the HT, as an external covering keeping it in place and actually anchoring it inside the chest.

An interesting point is that Neiguan (inner gate) a point on the inside of the wrist, known as PC6 in the west, was the point of choice when Chinese Doctors back in the 60’s and 70’s used acupuncture anaesthesia for open heart surgery and other operations.

The point could literally numb the pain of surgery when stimulated strongly (usually with electro-acupuncture), which indicates the incredibly powerful effect some points can have on the body.

At the moment in the world there is a strong focus on opening our hearts to others and keeping an open heart generally.

Although having an open HT/PC is important, a constantly open heart to everyone and everything can be damaging, just as damaging as being closed.

When a person’s PC is strong they will instinctively know when to be open and when to protect the HT by closing the PC. A healthy PC functions like a well-oiled door, it is able to swing open and shut easily as and when it becomes clear that it is the right thing to do.

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