In a previous post I said that many of the problems scientists are running
into with cloning reads like a list of Jing Deficiency symptoms. Here is an
intro to Jing, aka Essence, for readers new to TCM.
Most people have a far easier time understanding the concept of Qi, Yin,
Yang, and even Shen than that of Jing. Jing is translated as Essence.
When two people come together for sex, there is an exchange and blending of
sexual energies. When a man and a woman have sex and conception results,
the sexual energy blends to form "Pre-Heaven Jing" in the newly conceived
individual. Both the father and the mother supply Jing.
The developing embryo and fetus has no independent Jing of its own. It's
totally dependent on the Pre-Heaven Jing supplied by the mother and father
and on nourishment from the mother's Kidneys. (Maciocia, Foundations, p. 38)
One of the functions of Jing is it acts like a blueprint and master
control. It turns things on an off during development. In Western terms,
think heredity and DNA, though like so many TCM terms, Jing cannot be
reduced to Western concepts. Jing includes many of the functions of DNA and
the laws of heredity but isn't limited to these.
After the baby in born, the baby starts to manufacture its own Jing. This is
called Post-Heaven Jing. The Pre-Heaven Jing comes from the parents at
conception and before birth; the Post-Heaven Jing is made by the individual
after birth. "The Pre-Heaven Essence origninates from the parents, the
Post-Heaven Essence originates from food." (From "The Golden Mirror of
Medical Collection", cited in Foundations, Maciocia, p. 38). As one
probably can tell from the quote, the Stomach and Spleen plays a major role
in rather or not an individual is going to have enough Post-Heaven Jing.
Post-Heaven Jing is a general term to indicate that made by the individual
Kideny Jing is a more specific term, and this is the one to remember. It's
derived from both the Pre-Heaven and Post-Heaven Jing. It's both hereditary
and can be replenished. The Kidney Jing is stored in the Kidneys, but a lot
of it also is in the 8 Extraordinary meridians, including the Governor
Vessel which runs up the middle of the back and the Conception Vessel which
runs up the middle of the front of the body.
Kidney Jing Deficiency (and problems with the Kidneys storing Jing)
frequently have many of the symptoms of Kidney Yang and Kidney Yin
Deficiency PLUS problems having to do with development and maturity. For
example the bones don't develop properly, there may be premature aging, the
mentrual cycle may be messed up (though Jing disorder is not the only
possible cause of this), the hair may be prematurely gray, there may be
congngenital retardation, the genitals may fail to develop properly, there
may be hereditary enzyme problems, birth defects, and a host of other
What's happening with cloned animals are things are various developmental
abnormalities. Things like enlarged hearts, lungs that fail to develop
properly, and enormous obesity once the animals reach a certain age.
But there's another aspect of Jing which appears to have relevance to
cloning. Jing governs major developmental cycles in individuals. In human
females, Jing follows 7 year cycles, and in human males, Jing follows 8 year
cycles. (Or, at least it did until we started fooling around with Mother
Nature so much and doing things like loading cattle and chickens up with
antibiotics and various hormones.) Jing cycles mark changes in development
through our lives. Things like the loss of the baby teeth and the adult
teeth coming in, the loss of adult teeth in old age, sexual maturity, the
time of the greatest physical strength, the decline of old age, etc.
In cloning, sexual energies from a male and female do not combine. Instead
of the sperm from the male uniting with the egg of the female, the nucleus
of the female's egg is scooped out and a fully formed cell from an
individual is placed in the egg. The egg is then implanted in a female's
womb. If the process is successful, an exact replica of the individual
animal from which the cell was taken is produced.
Humans have 23 pairs of chromosomes (46). The mother provides 23 single
strands, and the father supplies 23 single strands of chromosomes.
(Chromosomes contain the genes.) These unite into 23 pairs.
Reproduction is not as simple as a special cell in the female dividing into
two egg cells, and a special cell in the male dividing into two sperm cells,
each with 23 single strands of chromosomes. Remember meiosis from high
school biology? This is the process by which the spermatogonium in the male
and the primary oocyte in the female become sperm and egg. Meiosis occurs
in two stages. In the male the original spermatogonium becomes 4 sperm, each
with 23 single strands of chromosomes. In the female, if fertilization
occurs, meiosis results in one fertilized egg with 23 single strands of
chromosomes and 3 non-functioning polar bodies. A great deal of shuffling of
genetic information occurs during meiosis.
The cell created by the union of sperm and egg is called a zygote. The
zygote has 23 pairs of chromosomes - half from each parent. If everything
goes well, this cell divides into 2 identical cells. These two cells divide
into 4 cells. The 4 cells divide into 8, the 8 into 16, and so on. The
morula (solid ball of cells) begins to grow. After a few days, the morula
becomes a blastocyst (hollow ball of cells). There is an inner cell mast
that becomes the embryo proper.
Then, for reasons and processes unknown to Western science, cells begin to
differentiate. First they start to differentiate into layers, and then
cells in each of the layers start to differentiate into various parts of the
body. For example, ectodermal cells start to become the nervous sytem,
hair, nails, glands of the skin, etc. Mesodermal cells start to become all
types of muscle cells, bone tissue, blood, lymph vessels, kidenys. The
endodermal cells start to differentiate into the epithelial linings of the
repiratory tract, the urinary bladder, etc. In time, head and limbs start
to appear. The eyes begin to form.
A cell in a human body (or an animal body) contains ALL of the genes the
organism has. But for some reason, something starts to switch genes on and
off. For example, the genes that determine eye color get switched on in the
cells that become the irises of the eyes but not in the cells that become
blood or the kidneys. Western science has yet to figure out a mechanism or
why certain things happen at certain times. TCM would say these are
manifestations of Jing.
In reading the part of the article that talks about Western theories as to
why there are so many problems associated with cloning, keep in mind both
the stages of meiosis and the TCM concept of Jing, particularly the part
about Jing having to do with stages of development.
"No one knows how the egg reprograms an adult cell's genes, but that,
scientists think is the source of the cloning calamities that can occur.
The problem, they say, seems to be that an egg must do a task in minutes of
hours that normally takes months or years."
In other words, instead of an egg and a sperm uniting to become a zycote
(about 24 hours after fertilization), the zycote becoming a morula, the
morula that becomes a blastocyst that implants itself into the wall of the
uterus at about 6 days or a week, the blastocyst becoming an embryo after a
couple of weeks, and the embryo becoming a fetus after about 8 weeks, the
process is starting out with a fully formed adult cell instead of with a
zygote. A cell which is already differentiated has to first become somewhat
undifferentiated and produce other cells that then start to differentiate.
What's turing genes on and off in in normal pregnancies or in cloned
pregnancies? What's determining when stages of maturation begin and end in
normal pregnancies or cloned pregnacies?
Here is the link to the NY Times article by Gina Kolata