The Triple Burner Organ-Energy System

The Triple burner organ-energy system, which is not acknowledged in Western physiology, is known as the ‘Minister of Dredges and Dykes.’ It governs the transformation and movement of various fluids and solids throughout the system and for the circulation and production of protective energy (wei chi) and nourishing energy (ying chi). The Triple burner is not a single self-contained organ, but is instead a system of functional energy involved in the regulation of the activities of other organs. It is made up of three parts, called ‘burners’, each related with one of the three main cavities of the body: pelvis, stomach, and thorax. According to an ancient Chinese medical document, “the Lower Burner controls elimination, the Middle Burner controls transformation, and the Upper Burner controls intake”.

The Lower Burner starts from the pyloric valve, the anus and the urinary tract. It is responsible for absorbing nutrients, segregating the pure from the impure products of digestion, and eliminating liquid and solid wastes. It brings into harmony, the functions of the small intestines, large intestines, bladder, kidney, and liver and also regulates reproductive and sexual functions.

The Middle Burner starts from the entrance to the abdomen all the way down to its exit at the pyloric valve. It is responsible for digestion by harmonizing the functions of the pancreas, spleen, and stomach. The Middle Burner is responsible for drawing out nourishing energy from fluids and foods and distributing them through the meridian system to the lungs and other parts of the body.

The Upper Burner starts from the base of the tongue to the entrance to the abdomen and controls the intake of fluids, food, and air. It brings into harmony the functions of the lungs and heart, and regulates the allocation of protective energy to the external surfaces of the body, and controls respiration.

Western researchers believe that the Triple Burner is related to the hypothalamus, the area of the brain that normalizes blood pressure, heartbeat, body temperature, fluid balance, digestion, appetite, and other basic autonomous functions.


Related organ: Pericardium
Peak Hours: 9pm-11pm
Color: orange red
Functions: normalizes transportation and transformation of bodily fluids,
Physical Branches: facial complexion, sweat, throat, tongue, blood

Sanjiao is made up of two Chinese words, ‘San’ means three, ‘Jiao’ means ‘burn’. Originally, it is referred to as the ‘Triple Burner’, but ‘Triple Heater’ and ‘Triple Warmer’ are also commonly used.

Psycho-Emotional Aspects of the Triple Burner

The Triple Burners are deemed to be “intermediaries” or Ambassadors for the Yuan (Original) Chi of the body. In psychological terms, they can be used to move Chi and cure depression resulting in Liver Chi stagnation. When the Triple Burners, that normalize the consciousness, are full, the Mind’s intent becomes kindhearted and benevolent and the consciousness becomes stable. People also link the Triple Burners with the Pericardium and Heart which are impacted by the emotion of joy. When the heart’s energy is pure, guiltless, and strong, and the thoughts and urges of people are at peace, then the energy of the sexual essence or Jing of the boy will spread into the Triple Burners, and the Blood may flourish within the vessels of individuals. If you fail to allow to heat your “fire of desire” and combine with the Triple Burners’ energy, your sexual essence will overflow, combining itself with the Mingmen energy and may leave the body through the reproductive tissues and organs. This may result in depletion of Chi and Jing.

The Triple Burner Internal Trajectories, Acupuncture Points, and Channel Pathway

Starting on the ring (fourth) finger, by the outside corner of the nail, the channel of the triple burner passes between the fourth and fifth fingers’ knuckles to the wrist. From there it rises between the forearm‘s two bones (the ulna and radius), through the elbow’s tip, and up the arm’s back to the shoulder. It joins the governing vessel channels and small intestine behind the top of the shoulder. Then it ascends over the shoulder to the region of the collarbone, internally goes down to the pericardium, and then to the middle and lower burners and abdomen. Re-appearing at the collarbone from the chest, the channel rises around the back of the ear to the side of the neck. One branch internally ascends to meet the forehead where the gallbladder channel is located, then goes down to join the channel of the small intestine on the cheek. The cursory branch continues to the ear front and across the eyebrow’s outer corner, where it meets the channel of the gallbladder once again.

The Triple Warmer Meridian’s Internal Trajectories

After passing the arms’ lateral aspect from the ring finger, the triple warmer meridian travels to St 12:

[It] enters ST-12, then down to CV-17, diffuses into the chest, and goes down into the pericardium. The Triple Warmer then goes down over the diaphragm, permeates and rounds down through the triple warmers. A branch beginning at CV-17 reaches up to St 12.

The meridian is like a pervasive spray when it “diffuses” into the chest. The stream becomes less dense and widens, the scenario is one of rain moistening and covering instead of a river passing through. One can also observe that the meridian does not wrap the pericardium spirally. Instead, it goes down as it is filtered through after diffusing into the chest in CV-17.

This concept assists us to observe the relationship of the breathing process to the triple warmer. Probably, this connection to the movement of breath and breath itself goes down into the belly button is associated with the action of “diffusion into the chest.” Upon inhalation, air is sucked into the lungs; air then mingles with the triple warmer pathway once its inside the chest (inside the lungs), which is diffusing into the chest. Then, it is filtered down into the pericardium. From there it may circle downward through the triple warmers. This downward motion via the triple warmers may well be the means by which the Chi of breathing travels underneath the umbilicus where it is a vital ingredient in the nourishment of the source and the creation of the source Chi.

Dr. Hailing Fu is a doctor or Oriental medicine and the founder of Ling’s Acupuncture, Inc., in Orlando, FL. She has also served as professor and clinic director at the Florida College of Integrative Medicine in Central Florida.

This entry was posted in Acupuncture. Bookmark the permalink. Both comments and trackbacks are currently closed.