Mystery of the Heart-Uterus Meridian
While studying shiatsu, I was introduced to the Heart-Uterus. A meridian that ran from the heart to the uterus, like a thick cord down the midline, its border extending to include the Kidney meridian, and useful in the treatment of female reproductive issues. This meridian was outside the twelve main meridians and the two, of eight, extra-ordinary meridians that we focus on in Zen-Shiatsu. Unsatisfied not knowing the full extent of this meridian I recently decided to question my acupuncture colleagues at Woodland Herbs on the subject.
My colleagues were not sure what the Heart-Uterus was, as it’s not a term they use. This is not unusual as we often use different terms for the same concept, even though acupuncture and shiatsu utilize the same traditional Chinese medical theories. In shiatsu terms are translated from Japanese and my acupuncturist colleagues use terms translated from Chinese. For instance in shiatsu we use the term “meridian” where as in acupuncture “channel” is more commonly used. However, it sounded from my description of its use and effect, as though it could be The Penetrating vessel or to give it its Chinese name the Chong Mai.
As it was not certain, that the Penetrating vessel was the same as the Heart-Uterus, I decided to look for references on-line for both. Searches brought up some informative articles including:
- A journey in exploring the importance of the Heart-uterus, Kidney-uterus and Penetrating Vessel meridians in maternity care and beyond, by Suzanne Yates
- The Heart Channel, by Giovanni Maciocia
Suzanne made reference to Bob Flaws book 'The Path of Pregnancy' (Blue Poppy Press) and Giovanni Maciocia’s book 'Obstetrics and Gynecology in Chinese Medicine ' (Churchill Livingstone). In Suzanne’s article I again find a link with the Penetrating vessel as well as discover that the Heart-Uterus meridian is referred to as the Uterus vessel (Bao Mai) and that there is also a Kidney-Uterus meridian referred to as the Uterus channel.
Between Giovanni’s book and article I find that the uterus in Chinese medicine is known by many names including Baby’s Bao (Zi Bao) and Bao Palace (Bao Gong) and that the equivalent in men is known as the Room of Sperm, also called Bao and that a simplified translation of Uterus is often used for both male and female. The Uterus is located in the Dan Tien (Lower Elixir Field or Hara) and connects to both the Heart and the Kidneys via the Uterus vessel or Bao Mai (Heart) and the Uterus channel or Bao Luo (Kidneys). Although I find diagrams showing these relationships I find no diagrams showing the actual meridian pathways even though there are meridian diagrams for the Penetrating vessel.
Not having access to a copy of Bob’s book 'The Path of Pregnancy' I take to Google books and find an on-line copy of ‘A Compendium of Chinese Medical Menstrual Diseases’ (Blue Poppy Press) by Bob Flaws. Bob translates Bao Mai as the “wrapper vessel” and he describes the connection of the Bao Mai as being between the Pericardium and the Uterus, the Pericardium acting on behalf of the Heart. Bob Flaws also discusses debate as to whether the Bao Mai and the Chong Mai are one in the same or different. He regards them to be the same.
I am now happy to reguard the Heart-Uterus as an aspect of the Penetrating Vessel. Both the knowledge that others have debated the link, as well as not finding any actual diagrams of the meridian pathway, has convince me that references in Chinese medical texts are more about the relationship between the Heart and Uterus than describing a separate and distinct meridian.
It is good to know that there is also a connection between the Kidneys and Uterus via the Bao Luo. References to the Bao Luo describe it as being ‘many connections’ or ‘a series of channels’ that feed the Uterus from the Kidneys. Again the term describes the relationship between the Uterus and Kidneys rather than an actual meridian. It is worth noting that the Penetrating vessel (Chong Mai), Conception vessel (Ren Mai) and Governing vessel (Du Mai) all originate from between the Kidneys and travel through the Uterus. These three vessels are often considered as one until they separate at Ren 1 (First point on the Conception Vessel). I am sure there are other pathways between the Kidneys and Uterus that also contribute to the term Bao Luo.