Gallbladder in classics
In acupuncture the Gallbladder channel is used frequently for wide variety of symptoms. The most common mental association are with anger in case of excess or timidity and indecisiveness in case of deficiency. These ideas of Gallbladder (mental) pathologies originate from Sùwèn and Língshū.
Sùwèn explains that Gallbladder is linked to anger (ch. 23) and also explains how a hot gall and indecisiveness are linked to throat and bitter taste in mouth (ch.47).
Língshū tells that weak, dull and fearful mind are part of Gallbladder pathologies (ch. 4). In dreams the Gallbladder can produces themes of fighting, blaming and self cutting (ch. 43: “則夢鬥訟自刳”). The chapter 50 explains how courage of soldier is linked with abundance of Gallbladder qì, strength of liver, heart and Sānjiāo.
But why Gallbladder is associated with decision and judgement? Why does the big gall mean great courage?
The Sùwèn 8 says: “The Gallbladder is official of exact and correct, decision and judgement stem from it.” (膽者中正之官決斷出焉)
中 means center, central, exact and for example in archery hit to the center.
正 means just, correct, upright and correct
決 means to decide, conclude and judge. It also means to execute a person.
斷 means to cut apart, sever and to decide. It also means to put an end to something.
The Gallbaldder is a fǔ organ and its zàng pair is liver. The liver is said to be the general of the imperial army, who is responsible for plans and vision of the situation. But even its decision depends on the gall. In fact Sùwèn 9 states that “All 11 organs obtain their judgement from Gallbladder”.
One of the easiest ways to understand this is by meridians. The gall belongs to Shǎoyáng. The Shǎoyáng is composed of two meridians, one being the gall and other being Sānjiāo. The Sānjiāo (as three burners/jiāo and not just the channel) has its beginning in the space between kidneys or Mìngmén. The much debated Nánjīng chapter 66 explains how the influence of the Sānjiāo stems forth and forms the source of all meridians. Its influence can be found from source or yuán (原) points of every meridian. The Sānjiāo is sometimes thought as a prime mover and a link between the earthly manifestation (of elements/organs and meridians) and the formless Heaven.
The Gallbladder is also one of the six extraordinary fǔ, others being brain, marrow, bones, channels/blood vessels and womb. These extraordinary fǔ are formed of Earthly qì and they function like Earth by storing the essences. The Sānjiāo and these extraordinary fǔ-organs form the structure of essence cultivation and transformation. The Gallbladder has close relation to other extraordinary fǔ-organs. Therefore it is said “the qì that is born within the Gallbladder is the source of 10 000 transformations”. (膽中生氣為萬化之元也)
The Gallbladder once also had its own Shén called Blaze of the Dragon or Lóngyào (龍耀).
In Xīuzhēntú there is a paragraph about Gallbladder:
The Gallbladder is the essence (jīng) of Metal and Qì of the Water
Its color is blue-green (Qīng)
As small sack it is attached under the Liver
Gallbladder is the courage and sureness
When Gallbladder is big one does not fear or be frightened
Its Shén is called Blaze of the Dragon (Lóngyào)
Its function is to be Majestic Brightness (Wēimíng)
Its form is like mixture of the turtle and snake
Gallbladder looks like a hanging sack
It weights three liǎng and three zhū (about 115g)
It is the Fǔ and is like it were grabbed by liver
Gallbladder should not be counted to five Zàng, it belongs to six Fǔ
Gallbladder receives Qì of Water and with Kǎn (坎 ☵) it collects the Tao
So it is not similar as others of the six Fǔ
And it could therefore be counted as Zàng
Together with the Urinary bladder it governs the hair
Huáng Tíng Jīng says:
(Gallbladder) governs all the Qì and strength (Lì)
It directs the strategy of attacking tigers
It has outer relationship to gazing, pupils
And the root of the nose between the eyes
It supports the brains, hair and also everything that is bright
(Its Shén has) nine colored bright cloak and green glorious hems
The quote in the end is from Huángtíngjīng. In Huángtíngjīng just before the quote reads that:
“Within the palace of Gallbladder is the essence of six fu.
At the center is Young child (like) glorious Majestic Brightness.”
The text later continues:
[Gallbladder] is able to store Majestic Brightness and ascend with the blessed cloud.
Serving as delegation between 10 000 shén and three origins (sānyuán or three pure ones).
With these pieces of information it becomes clear that the courage is born out of qualities associated with clarity and brightness. With Sānjiāo the Gallbladder is connected to Heaven and Tao and can bring down their perspective and clarity to other Shéns. With this clarity and vision the plans (Liver) can be made, the decisions of heart can be firm and found, the fear of kidneys transform to alertness and reaction speed, 7 pòs remain lightened and yì is steady. This is when the true courage is born.
These mental aspects of Gallbladder are treated in classics with GB 40 Qiūxū (丘墟) as it is the yuán (原) point of Gallbladder. Many modern authors seems to use more GB 13 Běnshén (本神). Běnshén being also excellent because it has connection to root of all shéns, Yuánshén (元神) residing in the brains. It also gathers all the shéns and rises the essence to fill the brain.
Following points are have also proven clinically excellent even as they are less known and used in modern practice:
GB 18 – Chéng líng (承靈)
Gallballder in communication with Líng or Heaven.
GB 23 – Zhéjīn (輒筋)
This point was once called 神光 (shén guāng – Shéns brightness) and 膽募 (dǎn mù). It was considered mù point of Gallbladder. Currently the following point rì yuè (日月) is held as mù-point.
GB 27 – Wǔshū (五樞)
The name could be translated as the Axis of five (shéns). It also has connection to Girdle vessel.
GB 28 – Wéidào (維道)
This point reflects the function of Gallbladder to store and collect Tao with the lower jiāo (坎 ☵).
GB 42 – Dìwǔhuì (地五會)
This is the point of Earthly meeting of five shén. The Heavenly meeting is at St 9.