What is "Jing" & "Essence" in Chinese Medicine?

by Dr. Eric Karchmer, PhD, MD (China), LAc |

What is "Jing" & "Essence" in Chinese Medicine?

Traditional Chinese Medicine theory has long recognized the importance of the concept of jing or "essence", in maintaining health and vitality. Jing refers to the essential life force that is responsible for growth, development, and reproduction. It is believed to be stored in the kidneys and is essential for the proper functioning of the body and mind.

The Connection Between Jing & Essence

The concept of Jing is closely related to the concept of "essence" in Chinese Medicine. Essence refers to the basic material that forms the body and is responsible for its growth and development. This includes everything from the building blocks of our DNA, to the nutrients we consume.

According to Chinese Medicine theory, essence is critical for the proper functioning of all of the body's organs and systems.

One of the key principles in Chinese Medicine is the preservation and cultivation of Jing.  This is done through a variety of practices, including diet, exercise, and herbal medicine.

For example, foods that are rich in nutrients such as iron, calcium, and zinc are believed to nourish the kidneys and help to preserve Jing and essence. Similarly, exercises like Qigong and Tai Chi are believed to help to cultivate and balance the body's energy, promoting the proper flow of Jing and essence.

The Aging Process and Jing: Herbs to Help

In Chinese Medicine theory, it is believed that the depletion of Jing and essence is a natural part of the aging process. However, factors such as stress, poor diet, and illness can accelerate this depletion, leading to a variety of health problems. Some of the symptoms of Jing and essence depletion may include fatigue, weakness, poor concentration, and a decreased ability to handle stress.

Fortunately, there are a variety of ways that we can support and cultivate Jing and essence in our bodies. One of the most important is through the use of herbal medicine. There are a number of herbs that are believed to be particularly beneficial for the kidneys and the cultivation of Jing and essence. These include ginseng, rehmannia, and deer antler velvet, among others.

In addition, Reishi (Lingzhi) is considered an herb that can help "boost your essence", and in so doing, assist with the aging process (see this article on how Reishi can help "supplement your essence" and in so doing, help with the longevity process).  

In addition to herbal medicine, other practices such as meditation, acupuncture, and massage can also be helpful in promoting the proper flow of energy and the cultivation of Jing and essence. By working with a qualified acupuncturist, you can develop a personalized treatment plan that incorporates these and other practices to help you achieve optimal health and vitality.

Further Reading

To better understand the role of Jing in women's health, and the way it evolves throughout her life, California-based Acupuncturist Kris Gonzalez explains more.

Dr. Eric Karchmer is a practicing Chinese medical doctor, medical anthropologist, and co-founder and Chief Doctor of Chinese Medicine for DAO Labs. From 1995-2000, Eric studied at the Beijing University of Chinese Medicine and today is both a licensed acupuncturist and professor at Appalachian State University. Eric can be reached at drkarchmer@mydaolabs.com.

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