The Bladders of Winter
Well we find ourselves here in the depths of winter and our tour of the internal organ systems of Chinese medicine brings us fittingly to the Bladder. The Bladder along with the Kidneys is part of the Water element cycle, which itself is associated with the season of winter. This connection becomes apparent to us whenever we go out in to the cold and the feeling of needing to go for a wee becomes more urgent!
The physical Bladder itself is nothing more than a storage bag but as ever with Chinese medical theory things are never that straight forward. Its importance lies in the fact that it is paired with the Kidneys and the two work together. For example if Kidney becomes weak, which generally happens as we get older, then the energy of the Bladder will become impaired which can lead to incontinence.
The energetic pathway of the Bladder is of utmost importance. It starts at the inner canthus of the eye, travels back over the head, down the back, down the backs of the legs and across the side of the foot to the little toe. Again a weakness of the Kidney energy will often be felt as pain in the lower back on the pathway of the Bladder channel. So far reaching is the Bladder channel that there is a section of it either side of the spine known as the Shu or transporting points, which can be used to tonify the energy of any organ of the body. This may seem odd at first but when you realise that each intervertebral space has a nerve system that branches off from the spinal column and travels to the corresponding organ, you begin to appreciate just how detailed the anatomical knowledge of the ancient Chinese really was. The points indicated on this diagram all sit along the Bladder channel and are used often in acupuncture treatments.
The spiritual function of the Bladder is also reflected in its meridians’ pathway. As it travels along the most Yang aspect of the body it is seen as kind of energetic shell or shield. It is common for people who are in extreme emotional trauma to curl up in to foetal position, thus expanding the Bladder meridian in a protective manner. For this reason the spiritual aspect of the Bladder correlates to our sense of self-worth or value. A weakness in this organ may lead to a person being insecure or lacking in confidence and self-esteem.
So generally the best advice to have a happy Bladder, especially at this time of year, is to slow down and look after ourselves. The days are short and the nights are long and naturally our energies have come inwards. If we overwork ourselves we will inevitably deplete our Kidneys which will be detrimental to our Bladder energies and our ‘shields’ can become impaired. It’s a good time to sit back, re-stock your energy stores and put off any big jobs till the spring!