By Thomas Kouo, L.Ac.
So I was thinking......admittedly, this is a stretch, but during one morning wake up routine in my half awake / half asleep state of morning hypnosis, I was suddenly awoken by the cold sting of my spray-on deodorant in my underarms. I thought to myself, ‘why do they have to make this stuff so cold?
The voice in my head was slightly annoyed, albeit barely coherent, at that early hour. Later that day, in one of the many mind musings that pop into my head, I recalled my earlier jolting experience and thought how funny it was that my Shen could be so affected by my deodorant. Then it hit me like a sledgehammer, well, maybe not a sledgehammer...but at least like a seven star needle-this cold stinging affront to my morning routine was a direct strike to the entry point of the Heart meridian at Heart-1 (Ji2 Quan2). Maybe I was tired. Maybe I had gotten too much sun. I knew I was onto something. Chinese medicine had been waiting for four thousand years for this revelation which emanated from the wisdom of my armpits. What is the nature of this assault? What are its implications? Have I just found the missing link to the task of curing cancer? Is this why my neighbor never smiles? Like all well practiced pontificators, I assumed the position (chin resting atop of my right hand with one eyebrow raised) and thought hard upon these questions.....
One thing I knew was that my deodorant was cold. It smelled slightly sweet. It lasted all day (this was the good stuff after all....not the cheap fade-in-an-hour deodorant). What did this mean? Cold is cold. By nature, cold assaults the Yang and in this case is a direct hit to the Yang of the Heart. Heart Yang deficiency, according to Giovanni Maciocia, can result in palpitations, shortness of breath upon exertion, fatigue, spontaneous sweating (which totally negates the use of deodorant in the first place), discomfort in the Heart region, and cold. (Maciocia, 2005, pgs. 466-7.) Of course, there are several confounding factors such as relative strength of the Heart Yang, the type of deodorant used (spray-phlegm, very cold; stick-phlegm, slightly cold), amount of deodorant, quality of deodorant (if you use deodorant and still stink, this must cause some serious stagnation), and overall constitutional factors. Perhaps the nature of this assault on the Yang manifests in the realm of the Shen where this presence of a phlegm covering compounds its effects. The Ling Shu Shaoyin axis is affected, life is affected at its very core. This is a major factor in many mental illnesses and severe diseases of the physical heart. Heart-1 (Ji2 Quan2) is said to directly affect all physical troubles with the heart organ, aid in the movement of Qi, and harmonize the emotions. (Soulie de Morant, 1984.)
This point connects to the Shen, which is divinely connected to the source and pervades everything. It is the line of communication to the sovereign within each of us. A function that I find particularly interesting is its seeming effects on the frontal lobes of the brain. The frontal lobes are our emotional control centers and the home to our personalities. These lobes are involved in motor functions, problem solving, spontaneity, memory, language, initiation, judgment, impulse control, and social and sexual behavior. (Levin et al., 1987) Another interesting characteristic of frontal lobe damage is difficulty in interpreting feedback from the environment. From a Chinese medical perspective, this can be also be accomplished by a phlegm covering clouding the Shen trying to take in the world though Heart-1 (Ji2 Quan2).
In one way it is remarkable how we let our arms hang down to protect the most precious of points and at the same time cover the point with phlegm and cold for the sake of a more pleasant fragrance. This begs another question: is deodorant a form of external phlegm? We are not taught in traditional Chinese medical schools that external phlegm exists. Why not? Have you ever had a friend dump all of their problems on you in a matter of minutes leaving you feeling worn out, sluggish, heavy, and depressed? This is external phlegm. You just got slimed. I saw Ghostbusters, I know that external phlegm exists. Some may argue that the point Heart-1 (Ji2 Quan2) is not located on the surface of the skin, but in the depression at the center of the axilla deep to the surface. This is true. However, just as we utilize the acupuncture needle to access and activate the point by sending Qi through the point's door at the surface of the skin, any cloudy covering at the surface will, in turn, block light going in and out of the vortex underneath. Heart-1 (Ji2 Quan2), home to the personality, wears glasses with lenses smeared with butter.
The more I thought about this, the more I realized that I could take this further and further. It also made me realize something I was very happy about: I don't have that much free time. I encourage you to consider exactly what you are doing tomorrow when you go through your morning routine. To the many Chinese medical scholars and purists, I offer an apology. I mean no disrespect to this medicine, which I both respect and love. I thank you for allowing me this opportunity to share one of my many musings. Whether or not you agree with any of the aforementioned ramblings, the moral of this story is that w is all around us if we choose to see it. Open the eyes of the Shen in every cell of your body and experience life to its fullest potential. Smile, take a cleansing breath, and be happy that we live in such an amazing world...and that's the stinkin' truth.
Deadman, Peter, et al. (1998). A Manual of Acupuncture. East Sussex, England: Journal of Chinese Medicine Publications.
Levin et al. (1987).
Magnetic resonance imaging and computerized tomography in relation to the neurobehavioral sequelae of mild and moderate head injuries. Journal of Neurosurgery, 66, 706-713.
Maciocia, Giovanni. (2005). The Foundations of Chinese Medicine Second Edition. London: Churchill Livingstone. Soulie de Morant, George. (1984). Chinese Acupuncture. Brookline, MA: Paradigm Publications.