Gallbladder (Chinese medicine)

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Distinct from the Western medical concept of gallbladder, the concept of the Gallbladder (Dan) in Traditional Chinese Medicine is more a way of describing a set of interrelated parts than an anatomical organ. (See Zang Fu theory.)

To differentiate between Western and Eastern concepts of organs the first letter is capitalized (e.g. Gallbladder instead of gallbladder, Spleen instead of spleen). Because Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) is holistic, 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 from the difficulty of translating and lack of knowledge about TCM concepts and Chinese culture. So, to avoid conflict and to keep an open mind, one must realize that these notions evolved in a different culture and are a different way of viewing the human body.

The Gallbladder is a Yang (Fu) organ; its paired Yin (Zang) organ is the Liver. The pair is associated with the element of Wood.[1] While the Liver is associated with the emotion of anger, the Gallbladder is associated with indecision or decisiveness.[2]


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