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What is Jing in TCM -- from the ActiveHerb.com Blog

Got Jing? Your Overall Health Depends On It!

Wondering what “Jing” is in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM)? It’s one of the so-called “3 treasures” and your overall health largely depends on preserving it. Here’s how….

You’re probably familiar with the western concept of “body, mind, and spirit”. The TCM equivalent of this trio is called “The 3 Treasures”. The 3 Treasures are the esoteric substances that nurture the organ systems and keep the mind, body, and spirit in balance.

Qi, one of the 3 Treasures, is the life force that supplies the body with energy. The second treasure is “Shen”, which is loosely means “spirit”. The third treasure is “Jing”.

What is Jing in TCM?

Jing has no exact English translation, although many people attempt to define it as “essence.” In a way, “essence” is an accurate description. Jing is indeed what makes you, well … you, even before you’re born. Which is why some people equate it to DNA. Like the double strand helix genetic blueprints that determines everything from your hair and eye color, it determines your physical and energetic attributes before you’re born. You inherit this treasure from your parents.

Ancient TCM philosophy theorizes that everybody has a set amount of Jing at birth. A healthy newborn has a lifetime of it accrued in an energy savings account. Your essence enters your body and like a network of tree roots, it anchors all the energy you’ll expend in your lifetime.

So why should you care about Jing if there’s nothing you can do about the essence you’ve inherited? Why should you care about it if you’re born with a predetermined amount of it?

Over the course of your life, if you live a life of moderation, you’ll likely keep a good chunk of it stored in your energy savings account. But if you take out too many withdrawals, your ‘financial essence future’ might not be so bright.

Top 5 things that drain your Jing

Here are a few ways that your essence can leak from the body:

  • Excessive sexual ejaculation
  • Lack of sleep and staying up late
  • Anger
  • Chronic stress
  • Drugs and alcohol abuse

Signs that your Jing is leaking excessively

Here are some tell-tale signs that your Jing is draining precipitously:

  • Accelerated aging (looking older than your real age)
  • Looking and feeling tired all day
  • Habitual trouble focusing
  • Loss of hair
  • Loss of purpose

If you waste your essence, in theory, your health can suffer because your immunity will be lowered, and will be more vulnerable to the so-called external pathogenic “6 Evils” such as Wind and Cold (or Wind-Cold). Healthy people who maintain their essence, generally speaking, are able to fight off more effectively  colds, flus, and allergies.

How can you increase your Jing?

So it is disheartening to think that your life essence is consumed virtually every day. Isn’t it? The good news is there are ways you can preserve or even replenish your Jing. You can prevent your inherited Jing bank account from being drained by eating nutritious foods. Some foods that are especially beneficial for supporting Jing include eggs (both poultry and roe, aka fish eggs); organ meats; bone broth; bee pollen; kidney beans; sea vegetables; royal jelly; black rice; and seeds.

Some Chinese herbs, according to TCM theory can actually replenish Jing. You’re probably familiar with at least a couple of these Jing-regenerating herbs such as goji berry and mulberry. There’s also the legendary anti-aging herb, he shou wu as well as shan yao. Our formula, Hairvive, features he shou wu, which may help you maintain a youthful appearance.

Here are some other ways to preserve or replenish your Jing:

  • Refrain from frequent masturbation and sexual intercouse
  • Practice Qi-building therapeutic modalities such as Tai Chi, Qigong
  • Meditation
  • Acupuncture

Jing’s relationship to blood and kidneys

Unfortunately, many people don’t live moderate lifestyles. Too much junk food, not enough exercise, too much stress … this is the normal Jing-leaking lifestyle for far too many people. When your Jing essence leaks, your blood production could become deficient. That’s because, in TCM theory, Jing, which is stored in the Kidneys, travels to the bone, whereby it’s transformed into marrow, which in turn produces Blood.

But let’s get back to chronic stress and examine the link between Jing leakage and western functional medicine. Over the last few years, more attention has been given to adrenal support, or more specifically adrenal fatigue (which is not an official medical diagnosis).

The theory of adrenal fatigue is chronic stress floods the body with cortisol, the stress-regulating hormone. Normal hormonal metabolic pathways become disrupted and diverted under chronic stress in an effort to keep up with the demand to produce cortisol.

And from where is cortisol secreted? The adrenal glands, which rest on top of the kidneys. Remember, the Kidneys are the storage house of Jing. It’s interesting that in both TCM and modern functional diagnostic medicine, stress can wreak havoc on the kidneys.

(This is why it’s important to learn how to manage stress and take all-natural herbal formulas that encourage stress management.)

Sea of the Marrow

Not only is Jing leakage bad for the Kidneys, it can also be bad for the brain. In TCM theory, the brain houses the “Sea of the Marrow”. If you’re leaking too much essence, the Kidneys can become weak, and therefore, the brain may suffer from malnourishment. A malnourished brain can manifest in poor concentration and memory, or feeling confused and foggy-brained.

Another crossover between TCM and western medicine relates to Jing’s role in forming “clear blood,” which in western medicine, translates as “plasma.” Jing produces clear blood in the Liver. In western medicine, the liver plays the major role in producing proteins that secrete into the blood, including major plasma proteins.

For women, menstrual blood can cause major withdrawals of Jing essence. (At ActiveHerb.com, we have all-natural TCM herbs to support menstrual health.)

Jing, Qi and Shen working harmoniously

Jing is the densest, physical matter within the body. Similarly to DNA, it determines our constitution. In fact, according to TCM theory, it nourishes, fuels, and cools the body. When our lifestyles are moderate and we’re eating well, getting enough sleep and managing stress, we support our Qi.

When we contain Jing and don’t let it leak, we possess abundant Qi. Moreover, we feel energetic and vivacious. And when both Jing and Qi are vital, according to TCM logic, our spirit (shen) will also be high.

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  • Laurie Swanson

    This link gives a 404 not found error.
    “(This is why it’s important to learn how to manage stress and take all-natural herbal formulas that encourage stress management.)”

    • Sheldon

      The link is now fixed. We apologize for the inconvenience. Thanks for letting us know!

    • Sheldon Li

      The link is now fixed. We apologize for the inconvenience. Thanks for letting us know!

  • Karim Naufal

    Amazingly interesting article… Thank you!

    • Sheldon Li

      Thank you.