Zang - Fu Organ Theory

Classification of Organs

Zang Fu

Five Zang Organs

Six Fu Organs

Six Extra-ordinary Organs


Zang Organs


Paired Fu Organs


  • Governs blood and controls blood vessels
  • Stores Shen (spirit, mind)
    - responsible for mental activity, memory, consciousness, and sleep
  • Related to happiness and joy
  • Opens into the tongue
  • Manifests in facial complexion
  • Controls sweat
Small Intestine
  • Controls the receiving & transforming
  • Separates the fluids from food
    - sends food to the Large intestine and fluids to the Urinary bladder


  • Governs smooth flow of Qi
  • Governs the tendons
  • Stores Hun (Ethereal soul)
    - responsible for finding direction in life, visions, and planning
  • Related to anger
  • Opens into the eyes
  • Reflects in the nails
  • Controls tears


  • Is the only Fu organ that does not receive food and water and does not communicate with the exterior
  • Stores the bile
  • Controls judgment and decision
  • Controls the joints


  • Governs Qi and respiration
  • Governs the exterior for protection from external pathogens
  • Descends and disperses Qi throughout the body
  • Governs the skin
  • Stores Po (Corporal soul)
    - responsible for growth and physiological functions
  • Related to grief and sadness
  • Opens into the nose
  • Reflects in the body hair
  • Controls phlegm and the nasal discharge

Large Intestine

  • Controls excretion of the rotten food


  • Governs transportation and absorption of food and drink
  • Is the source of production and mutual transformation of Qi and Blood
  • Controls raising function
  • Keeps internal organs in place and contains  the blood inside the blood vessels
  • Governs muscles and limbs
  • Stores Yi (thought, intent)
    - responsible for clear thinking
  • Related to worry
  • Opens into the mouth
  • Manifests in the lips
  • Controls thick saliva


  • Controls the ripening and rotting of food
  • Controls the transportation of Food Qi
  • Is the origin of fluids
  • Controls descending function, compared to the Spleen


  • Often considered as "Root of Life" or "Root of the Pre-Heaven Qi
  • Governs birth, growth, reproduction and development
  • Stores essence
  • Produces the marrow which fills the brain
  • Control opening and closing of the lower orifices (spermatic duct, urethra and anus)
  • Governs bones
  • Stores Zhi (will power)
    - responsible for motivation
  • Related to fear
  • Opens into the ears
  • Manifests in the hair
  • Controls saliva

Urinary Bladder

  • Removes water by Qi transformation, with the help of the Small Intestine and the San Jiao
  • Imbalance of the Urinary Bladder will provoke jealousy, suspicion and long-standing grudge


  • Closely related to the Heart
  • Protect the Heart from external pathogens

San Jiao (Triple Burner)

  • Refers to three area of the body cavity
    -Upper burner: relates to organs in the thorax and the breathing function
    - Middle burner: relates to the organs around the Stomach and the digesting function
    - Lowe burner: relates to the organs below the abdomen and the urogenital functions
  • Plays important role in transporting fluids throughout the body


Five Organ Systems of the Body

Zang OrgansLiverHeartSpleenLungKidney
Fu OrgansGallbladderSmall intestineStomachLarge intestineUrinary bladder
TissueTendonsBlood vesselsMusclesSkinBones
FluidTearsSweatThick salivaPhlegmSaliva



Extra-ordinary Organs

Brain (Sea of Marrow)

  • Controls intelligence, memory, and the five senses
  • Is controlled by the Kidneys - the Kidneys produce marrow to fill the brain
  • Related to the Heart - the Heart stores Shen (spirit) and controls mental activity
  • Related to the Liver - the Liver helps smooth flow of emotions



  • Is controlled and produced by the Kidneys
  • Nourishes the brain and the spinal cord through essence (Jing)
  • Produces the Bone 



  • Is controlled by the Kidneys, produced by the Marrow
  • If the Kidney Essence and the Marrow are deficient, the Bones lose nourishment, cannot sustain the body and there will be inability to walk or stand.



  • Controls reproduction and menstruation
  • Is controlled by the Kidneys and closely related to the Liver, the Heart, and the Spleen
    - The uterus requires a rich supply of Qi, Blood, and essence for its function.


Blood Vessels

  • The Heart controls the movement of blood through the Blood vessels
  • The Spleen keeps the Blood in the Blood vessels.



  • Is classified as both Fu organ and extra-ordinary organ because it does not receive food and water like other Fu organs and does not communicate with the exterior
  • Stores bile


NOTE: The names of organs are capitalized when referring to the entire, functional organ systems in TCM perspective: Liver, Blood, etc. The names of organs are lower-cased when referring to the distinct, biomedical organs: liver, blood, etc.