To differentiate between western or eastern concepts of organs the first letter is capitalized (Liver, instead of liver, Spleen instead of spleen). Because Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) is wholistic, each organ cannot be explained fully unless the TCM relationship/homeostasis with the other organs is understood. TCM also looks at the functions of the organs rather than fixed areas and, therefore, describes different organs that are not actually physical, like the Triple Burner (San Jiao). This also leads to controversy about the validity of TCM, which comes a lot from the difficulty of translating and lack knowledge about TCM concepts and Chinese culture. So, to avoid conflict and to keep an open mind, please realize that these notions evolved in a different culture and are a different way of viewing the human body.
Zang-Fu translates roughly into "solid organ-hollow organ". It is a concept within traditional Chinese medicine and part of the TCM model of the body. There are five zang (臟 pinyin zang1 心、肝、脾、肺、腎) and six fu (腑 pinyin fu3 胃、小腸 、大腸、膀胱、膽、三焦).
This theory treats each of the Zang organs as organs that nourish the body. The Zang systems include organs, senses, emotions, and the musculoskeletal system--essentially, the entire person divided into five categorical systems. Zang organs are also known as yin organs, and each has a Fu partner, a yang organ (see Yin Yang). Fu organs can be viewed as hollow organs that aid in digestion. In addition to bodily functions, each Zang organ is the home of an aspect of the spirit.
With a thorough understanding of the Zang Fu organs, practitioners can achieve therapeutic results accordingly. The theory is always in service of practical, therapeutic application, with the goal of an "elegant" treatment. An elegant treatment uses the least amount of force for the greatest therapeutic benefit, and requires true mastery of the art of traditional Chinese Medicine.
The five elements are associated energetically with the following Zang-Fu organs
- Wood: Liver, home of the Hun (Ethereal Soul), paired with the Gall Bladder
- Fire: Heart, home of the Shen (Aggregate Soul) paired with the Small intestine (and secondarily, the San Jiao or Triple burner and Pericardium)
- Earth: Spleen, home of the Yi (Intellect), paired with the Stomach
- Water: Kidney, home of the Zhi (Will), paired with the Bladder
- Metal: Lung, home of the Po (Corporeal Soul), paired with the Large Intestine
- Five organs site (http://www.itmonline.org/5organs/5organs.htm)