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Why are the Extraordinary Vessels fundamental to work in cancer?

I first discovered the Extraordinary Vessels through my work with maternity clients since they are the most strong and palpable at that time. However, over the years I have realised that they are such a fundamental part of shiatsu, that shiatsu no longer has sense for me if it only includes work with the 12 meridians.

Working with the Extraordinary Vessels and Cancer:

They are particularly important when working with diseases, such as cancer, which while may affect one specific organ, but which are essentially due to abnormal changes happening in the cells. The reasons that cells become abnormal are multifactorial, but include genetic factors, lifestyle, exposure to certain substances such as cigarettes, bacteria and viruses. We could also include shock, trauma and unresolved emotional conflict. Of course we also know that often cancer metastasises: ie the abnormal cells spread to other parts of the body and this is the cause of the majority of deaths.

It clearly makes sense that no one meridian of the 12 can be involved and further, that it is a breakdown of overall regulation, particularly on a cellular level. This is essentially the role of the Extraordinary Vessels: they are the overall regulators of Qi. However they also regulate the Jing, our ancestral energy, our energetic DNA and basic cellular energy as well as being the overall regulators of Blood and the Heart (especially Chong Mai).

There are 8 Extraordinary vessels and they work together as a group, sharing many qualities. In this sense they are not as separate from each other as the 12 channels and some of their points and pathways overlap. I divide them into two groups: the Core Four: Du, Ren, Chong and Dai , which regulate more the energies of the centre/midline and the Outer Four (Yin and Yang Qiao and Wei) which regulate the connection to the outer body through the arms and legs.

There are the first energies which are present in the body, from the moment of conception; even, some might argue, before. They exist before the 12 channels form and indeed the 12 channels arise out of them from the 3 germ cell layers of the endo (CV) ecto (GV), mesoderm (PV). This means that they are more fundamental in regulating basic cell function.

Unlike the 12 meridians, they do not simply relate to one organ each, but share the three fundamental organs of the Brain, Kidneys and Reproductive Organs. The Brain and the Reproductive Organs do not feature in the 12 meridian system; they are so fundamental to our being that they have their own special meridians: the Extraordinary Vessels. The Brain clearly has a vital importance with cancer as well as overall regulation. If the cancer is related to the reproductive system, then we would need to work the Extraordinary vessels, especially the Core Four.

Each of the 8 Extraordinary Vessels regulates specific energies, but I am going to consider the group as a whole and why they are so important to include.



Consider the following attributes of the Extraordinary Vessels

1. They act as reservoirs of energy in relation to the 12 channels which are compared to rivers.

This relates to the fact that they are in fact the core of our energy. When the 12 channels are not able to fulfil their functions correctly then they are supported by the Extraordinary vessels. In a disease such as cancer which affects our body in many ways, we need to draw upon our reserves of energy to support our capacity to recover.

2. “Classic of difficulties” ch 27 “When there are heavy rains, canals and ditches are full to the brim…similarly the Extraordinary Vessels are left out of the channel system so that they can take the overflow from the 12 channels..”

They can take the strain from the 12 channels, they are needed to support them. Clearly this is important when one, or more of the 12 channels is highly challenged. It is not sufficient simply to work with that channel.

3. They can both absorb energy from the 12 channels and transfer energy to them when needed. This happens in case of shock

Some people claim that shock (eg Dr Hamer) is a key part of cancer, whether emotional or physical. Whether it is a cause, or effect of cancer, it is on the level of the Extraordinary Vessels that deep shock can be processed.

4. They all derive their energy from the Kidneys and all contain the Essence which is stored in the Kidneys

Genetics and our energetic DNA (Jing) are factors in cancer. By working with the Extraordinary Vessels, we can directly support the Jing. We know that while fixed in quantity, its quality is able to be influenced. We can not change who are parents are, but we can change our relationship to them. Further, Jing is potential and we can support that potential. Deep healing may occur at both a physical and emotional level.

5. They circulate the Essence around the body thus contributing to integrating the circulation of Nutritive Ki with that of Essence

The inherited Jing is constantly interacting with what we are taking in on a day to day basis from the Food Qi and the Air Qi and the 24 hour regulation of energy through the 12 channels. To support our energy, which is always a combination of Jing and QI, we need to work with the Ex Vessels alongside the 12 channels.

6. For this reason the extraordinary vessels are the link between the Pre Heaven and the Post Heaven Ki in so far as they are connected to the main channels and circulate the Essence all over the body. They represent a deeper level of treatment related to the Pre Heaven Ki and the basic constitution of an individual.

This is the deeper level of work which is vital for cancer clients and is why the Extraordinary Vessels are so relevant in work with cancer.

7. Du, Ren and Chong circulate defensive Qi which protects the body from exterior pathogenic factors.

Again this aspect of support with our defensive Qi is vital

I hope I have given a flavour of the importance of the 8 Extraordinary Vessels and their importance in working with cancer.

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  1. Jessica Johnson on 03/06/2015 at 9:33 am

    Great article Suzanne. As you know I am a great fan of the Extraordinary Vessels and use them in virtually every treatment. As you suggest, they are profoundly implicated in our embryology so to work with them is accessing our primordial qi, our template of health, reminding clients at a subliminal level that the health is always present. This brings back more coherence into their system, more resonance. After all is not cancer really a condition of incoherence at a cellular level?

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