General Functions of the Eight Vessels

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Serve as Qi Reservoirs. Because the eight vessels are so different from each other, it is difficult to generalize their characteristics and functions. However, Bian Que in his Nan Jing specified one of the most common characteristics of the eight vessels. He reported that the twelve organ-related Qi channels constitute rivers, and the eight extraordinary vessels constitute reservoirs. The reservoirs, especially the Conception and Governing Vessels, absorb excess Qi from the main channels, and then return it when they are deficient.

You should understand however, that because of the limited number of traditional documents, as well as the lack of modern, scientific methods of Qi research, it is difficult to determine the precise behavior and characteristics of these eight vessels. The main difficulty probably lies in the fact that they can be taken at different levels, because they perform different functions and contain every kind of Qi such as Ying Qi, Wei Qi, Jing Qi, and even blood. Click to learn how Chinese medicine treats Frozen Shoulder.

When the twelve primary channels are deficient in Qi, the eight vessels will supply it. This store of Qi can easily be tapped with acupuncture needles through those cavities, which connect the eight vessels with the twelve channels. The connection cavities behave like the gate of a reservoir, which can be used to adjust the strength of the Qi flow in the rivers and the level of Qi in the reservoir. Sometimes, when it is necessary, the reservoir will release Qi by itself. For example, when a person has had a shock, either physically or mentally, the Qi in some of the main channels will be deficient. This will cause particular organs to be stressed, and Qi will accumulate rapidly around these organs. When this happens, the reservoir must release Qi to increase the deficient circulation and prevent further damage.

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