In my last blog post, I explained that the organs of Chinese medicine are divided into two groups: Yin and Yang. The Yin organs hold more significance in our medicine, but the Yang organs are also important. We discussed the organs of elimination previously (the Small Intestine, Large Intestine, and Bladder), and today's blog is going to cover the Gallbladder. In Western medicine, the gallbladder contains bile and aids in digestion. In our medicine, the physical functions are similar. The Liver and Gallbladder have a very close relationship; if the Liver is doing its job of making the qi flow smoothly,the Gallbladder will store and discharge bile as it is supposed to. If the Gallbladder is not functioning properly, it isn't able to assist the Liver in sending its qi to the Stomach and Spleen. Then you have your symptoms of either belching, nausea, and vomiting (if the Stomach is affected) or alternating diarrhea and constipation (if the Spleen is affected.)
Physically, the Gallbladder also controls the sinews. People who get tight tendons can benefit from having Gallbladder points added to their treatment. The Gallbladder channel runs up the sides of the body, so tight IT bands are a Gallbladder issue. Headaches in the temples, or on the sides of the head, usually relate to problems in the Gallbladder meridian.
From a mental standpoint, the Gallbladder controls decisiveness. If the Gallbladder energy is weak, it will be difficult to make decisions. It also plays a role in giving us courage and initiative. So, someone who needs work on their Gallbladder might come across as indecisive, timid, and as someone who gives up easily when things aren't going smoothly.
The Gallbladder also assists in sleep. A deficient Gallbladder might result in an early riser who can't get back to sleep. On a sidenote, I find it interesting that one of the symptoms of an imbalanced Gallbladder is "dream-disturbed sleep." I have worked in restaurants for years, and one aspect of waitressing that I loathe with a passion is the infamous "waitressing dream." I'm sure there are variations depending on your career, but basically it is the nightmare of reliving some boring task of the day, over and over. My dream usually consists of filling water for customers, only to realize that there is no water in the pitcher. Then I look for water, and I can't find any. At that point the dream becomes not only boring but stressful, and it goes on and on. When I finally wake up, I'm tired from "working" all night, and I'm irritated and agitated. The worst part is, I feel like I never left work at all. Now, after all these years, I finally know that my Gallbladder is to blame for this misery. At least now I know which acupuncture point to use to prevent it!