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Sweater on? Sweater off? - Homeostasis and The Triple Heater (Education Series)

Sweater on? Sweater off? - Homeostasis and The Triple Heater (Education Series)

by Grace Ganel

With the recent fluctuations in temperature (snow?! In March?!), I don't know about you, but I can't seem to get the layering right this month. When I'm struggling to regulate my temperature, I think of the Triple Heater and its role in homeostasis. (Read to the end for an acu-tip to help you weather temperature changes!)

The triple heater is one of those odd channels in Chinese Medicine that doesn’t line up with any Western organs. When learning about triple heater, it becomes clear how different the development and philosophies of Chinese and Western medical thought have been over the years.

The triple heater regulates and opens the “water ways” of the body. It helps to maintain homeostasis and keep the environments in which all the channels function comfortable so that the body can operate optimally.

Emotionally, the triple heater is likened to a social hostess. She is tasked with keeping eleven not-so-like-minded Officials happy and thriving in this party called life. Lung likes it dry, Stomach likes it wet, and your diet and lifestyle choices throw curve-balls at Triple Heater all the time! When you drink a big slushy, your taste buds may be happy, but Triple Heater rushes into action to warm up the region in which Stomach, Liver, Gall-Bladder, and Spleen reside.

Triple Heater can be thought of as the cavities in the body. The thoracic cavity, the abdominal cavity, and the pelvic bowl make up the “three burners” (san jiao). Each of these has a particular “climate” - the Upper burner (thorax) is like a mist - it keeps the sinuses and bronchi gently moisturized; the Middle Burner (abdomen) is like a marsh - it’s warm and soft and bubbly with the activity of the Stomach churning away at the food to form the basis of Blood and Qi; the Lower Burner (pelvis) is like a drainage ditch, the bladder and the intestines sending waste down and out of the body through the lower orifices.

This compartmentalizing, keeping-everybody-happy skill set applies to emotional and mental climates as well. A person with a strong Triple-Heater channel is able to get along with a wide variety of people and has strong networking skills. They may be good at resolving communication issues, and they may be able to maintain a light-hearted, positive mindset even while others are struggling with pessimism and resentment. As one of the Fire element channels, Triple Heater corresponds with connection, joy, and laughter.

Conversely, when Triple Heater is not doing so well, the individual can feel isolated, and may behave inappropriately in a failed attempt to seek out connection. And, when Triple Heater isn’t doing so well, it will not be able to regulate temperature very well.

This is why, in clinic, we joke that rooms 1-3 need to have their Triple Heater Channel treated! With the recent fluctuations in weather, it seems like Mother Earth could use a Triple Heater touch-up, too...

If you're struggling to adapt to the weather these days, internally or externally, try rubbing the back of your wrist, in line with your 4th finger. This point, Yang Pond, regulates fluids in the body by soothing the Triple Heater.

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