The Small Intestine: Multidimensional Discernment

The Small Intestine: Multidimensional Discernment

As the Yang organ-meridian system that’s partnered with the Yin energetics of the Heart, the Small Intestine plays a crucial role in metabolic, energetic, and emotional health. The Small Intestine can be understood as protective, for it helps safeguard our permeability by sorting nourishment from contaminants—physically, emotionally, and mentally. Though the Heart and the Shen that resides there are widely understood as governing our emotional state, the Small Intestine also aids us in discerning what is supportive for us… and what isn’t. 


Metabolically, the Small Intestine is responsible for separating the pure from the impure when it comes to nutrients and waste through the digestive process, rendering it fundamental to the building of Qi (life force energy). Through yet another beautiful meeting point that perfectly illustrates the multifaceted nature of every bodily function, we remember that in TCM emotions are actually seen as a form of Qi. Thus, the Small Intestine’s role in promoting abundant and free-flowing Qi on the physical level is not only foundational to overall vibrancy, but directly supports our body’s ability to process emotions. 


The physical discernment facilitated by the Small Intestine also has an inherently psychospiritual component, promoting clear energetic boundaries that nurture emotional balance and mental health. In an era when we are constantly influenced through overexposure to information, opinions, and even manipulations, the Small Intestine helps us distinguish between self and other, clarifying our perceptive capacity. Just as this organ-meridian system holds the intelligence to extract nutrients from our food while eliminating waste, it is able to filter through confusion that can otherwise overwhelm us and contribute to poor judgement. As such, it aids in preserving personal integrity, mental acuity, and the ability to make decisions aligned with our own beliefs. 


We can support the optimal function of the Small Intestine on all levels by honoring its various domains. In TCM, every action has a multifaceted reaction and, because of the foundational interconnectedness that this tradition highlights, every healing action has the power to initiate a cascade of healing reactions. Through mindful consumption of food, herbs, and information, we can support the Small Intestine in its implementation of multidimensional discernment. 


Pro-metabolic eating: 

  • Eat seasonally for balanced energetics (nature is intelligent!)
  • Prioritize cooked foods to minimize Qi blockages and promote Digestive Fire
  • Avoid hyper-processed foods that confuse the Small Intestine
  • Support proper elimination by eating plenty of fiber


Practicing discernment: 

  • Avoid overconsumption of information
  • Consciously choose who’s able to influence you
  • Set boundaries to help prevent emotional overload and reduce the absorption of stress from others


Tonic herbs:

  • Chaga - a powerful ally for the Small Intestine, indicated for a wide variety of digestive issues (e.g. gastritis, ulcers, IBS, and Chron’s). It’s also extremely nutrient-dense and even contains digestive enzymes!
  • Lion’s Mane supports optimal nutrient absorption and has rich antioxidant stores that help prevent and relieve the oxidative stress caused by poor nutrition + exposure to toxins.


Acupressure Points:

  • SI-4: On the wrist bone below the pinky finger, stimulating regulates the Small Intestine and strengthens its capacity to discern between pure and impure on all levels. It also activates the parasympathetic nervous system (“rest and digest”) and peristalsis. 
  • SI-5: Located just below SI-4 along the same Small Intestine channel, this point promotes digestion, nutrient absorption, clarity, and calmness. It also helps clear excess Fire and Dampness from the body.