Zangfu and Bioclock

Zangfu and Bioclock

ZangFu theory is the theory of the Yin (also called Zang) and Yang (aka, Fu) coupled organs, their interactions, and how they affect the body. While this is largely an herbal theory, it can be used in acupuncture practice as well to understand, diagnose, and balance health.

Zangfu means both “internal organ” and “hide.” That’s a pretty apt description because the internal organs are indeed hidden in the inside of the body. 

Another term meaning “zangfu” is zang xiang. Zang xiang means both “image” and “signs and symptoms.” How is that term appropriate? Cutting into the body or doing invasive procedures to find out what is wrong is not what Chinese medicine is about. In the Chinese culture from which Chinese medicine sprang, it is shameful and disrespectful to do this to the body. This is why the methodology in TCM is to get to know internal organ functions by looking at signs and symptoms on the superficial body.

Without opening and examining the body, external signs will reveal with is internal. That’s the image part. The signs and symptoms* part is a bit of a duh, I suppose. The image is the most important thing in Chinese medicine and reflects the condition of the internal organs.

*Symptoms are what the patient describes or reports to you. This is subjective and you can’t verify it by looking at your patient. A symptom might be, “I feel nauseous” or “My head hurts here.” A sign is something that you as the practitioner can observe and measure such as a fever, a wiry pulse, a red face, or a limited range of motion. 

The whole purpose of Zangfu theory is to discuss internal organ functions (physiological functions), pathological changes, and the interrelationships of the twelve internal organs through the signs and symptoms (image) showing from the superficial areas.

So let’s take a look all the fun stuff that’s involved in Zangfu theory.

Zangfu Basics

The six zang, six fu, and the extraordinary organs as well as the common functions of each of those.

Zangfu Organs

Each of the zangfu organ pairs and what they do in the body.


Heart/Small Intestine


Lung/Large Intestine


Pericardium/San Jiao (aka Triple Burner or Triple Heater)