||It has been suggested that Three jiaos be merged into this article. (Discuss) Proposed since May 2010.|
|This article does not cite any references or sources. (January 2009)|
San Jiao is a term found in traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), as part of modelling the workings of the human body attempted by early Chinese medical writers. References to it can be found in the oldest Chinese medical texts available, including the Yellow Emperor's Huang Di Nei Jing.
San Jiao has been translated as "triple heater," triple warmer (or three warmers)," and "triple burner," the latter of which is probably favored because of the involvement of the San Jiao in metabolism. The current WHO standard term is "Triple Energizer" (TE), but many authors still prefer to use San Jiao.
There is no organ in Western medicine which corresponds to San Jiao, but The Triple-Burner is said to occupy the Thoracic and Abdomino-Pelvic cavities:
- Shang Jiao, the "upper burner", is located in the thoracic cavity, above the diaphragm and it includes Fei (lungs) and Xin (Heart). It is associated with respiration, and is said to behave as a "mist".
- Zhong Jiao, the "middle burner", is located in the abdominal cavity, including Wei (Stomach) and Pi (Spleen). It is associated with digestion, and is said to behave as a "foam".
- Xia Jiao, the "lower burner", is located in the lower abdominal cavity and pelvic cavity, below the bellybutton, and includes Gan (Liver), Xiao Chang (small intestine), Da Chang (large intestine), Shen (Kidneys) and Pang Guang (Bladder). It is associated with waste and elimination and is said to behave as a "swamp".
Other Zang Fu organs were not included in the San Jiao model.
The Hand Channel of San Jiao Shao Yang is so called because of its generalized effects across the San Jiao. San Jiao is not an organ. In fact, many Zang Fu organ translations do not directly correspond with their defined Western organ. They more often refer to systems or functions within the body, and are useful to describe the flow of energy, which in turn helps prescribe therapy to disharmony.
The Shao Yang channel is the second shallowest channel in the six divisions of channel theory, and its hand division - San Jiao - starts at the fingernail of the ring finger, travels up the outside center of the hand and arm, encompasses the elbow, continues to the back of the Acromio-clavicular joint (part of the shoulder), meeting with the other Yang channels at the junction of the seventh cervical and first thoracic vertebrae (GV-14 "da zhui"), before travelling up the neck to behind the ear, encompassing the external ear and terminating at outer tip of the eyebrow. Aside from Wai Guan (TE-5), its points' most common clinical uses are for local problems.
In TCM theory, the San Jiao is a yang organ paired with the pericardium (Xin Bao) which is the yin organ associated with it. Yang (Fu) organs are typically hollow, whereas yin (Zang) organs are more solid. The triple burner, however, is said to be primarily energetic and does not have a physical component, unlike all the other organs in TCM. In dissecting a body, one would not be able to find a structure that could be called the San Jiao.
The San Jiao's Hand-Foot partner is Dan (Gall Bladder).
The San Jiao is also said to be a metabolism mechanism similar to an old-fashioned water wheel that is turned by incoming water and creates energy for accomplishing a task, such as grinding grain in the case of the water wheel, or for metabolising and digesting food in the case of the San Jiao. The San Jiao is closely associated with the spleen functions of transformation and transportation, particularly the metabolism of incoming food. The San Jiao is also closely associated with the kidney's function in TCM. The San Jiao, however, is not limited to one metabolism function as the spleen or kidneys are, but is a general metaboliser which can be applied to a variety of metabolism needs.
This dual usage of San Jiao to refer to a specific metabolic function and to refer to the areas of the body is a source of confusion, and care should be taken to make it explicit which is being referred to.
San Jiao is related to the fire element of the Chinese Five Elements.