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Keep informed on current news in the world of Traditional Chinese Medicine.

Home > Newsletters > April 2003

Zangfu Theory & Cellular Memory

By Attilio D’Alberto


The Huang Dei Nei Jing is the oldest and most important medical book to originate from China. Its author and origin is unknown, but is thought to have been written during the Warring States period (475-221 B.C.) by numerous authors (Yanchi 1995, p2).

From this ancient classic comprised of two books; the Suwen ‘Plain Questions’ and the Lingshu ‘Miraculous Pivot’, came the basic foundations of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). It introduced the five-element theory, Yin & Yang, causes of disease, the pathology and physiology of the Zangfu organs, interaction of Blood and the channel system. All subsequent texts built upon the foundations laid down by the Huang Dei Nei Jing.

The theories of the Huang Di Nei Jing still lay at the core of clinical practice today. In this essay, we shall look at the importance of Zangfu theory and its application in orthodox medicine and society, notably cellular memory.

Cellular memory is defined as the cells of living tissue having the capability to memorize characteristics of the human they relate to. Over the past half-century, advances in orthodox medicine have allowed us to perform organ transplants. Recently recipients of donated organs have begun to report newfound memories, thoughts, emotions and characteristic preferences perceived to be those of their donor.

In orthodox medicine, it is mainly the heart, lung, liver and kidneys that are transplanted, all of which are Zang (Yin) organs according to Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM).

Can the theory of the Zangfu within the Huang Dei Nei Jing shed a new light upon this modern finding known as cellular memory? The aim of this essay is to answer that question.


The Zangfu consist of five Yin (Zang) organs and five Yang (Fu) organs. Each Yin organ has a function, associated organ, taste, emotion, spirit, tone, planet, animal, season, element, colour, etc and are categorized in appendix A. In this essay, we will be concerned with each organ’s emotion and spirit in relation to cellular memory. See Table 1.

Zang Organ Emotion Spirit
Liver Anger Hun (Ethereal Soul)
Heart Joy Shen (Mind)
Spleen Pensiveness Yi (Intellect)
Lung Grief Po (Corporeal Soul)
Kidney Fear Zhi (Will)

Table 1. The Zang emotions and spirits.

TCM is a holistic medicine that views the body and mind as one and is based upon the theory of Yin and Yang as introduced medically in the Huang Dei Nei Jing. Within this theory, everything is made up of two opposing forces, each containing the seed of its opposite. Therefore, everything contains the essence of the whole. As the Su Wen states in chapter 5:

Yin and Yang are the guiding principles of all things. In the mutual victory or defeat of Yin and Yang, the situation will be of numerous varieties, so, Yin and Yang are the parents of variations” (Wu and Wu 1997, p31).

The theory of Yin and Yang is the same as its modern western equivalent -- the holographic principle -- and is the basis of cellular communication with the body-mind in dynamic interplay. As Gerber (1996, p48-9) points out, the holographic principle is that ‘every piece contains the whole’ and can be seen in the cellular structure of all living bodies. Every cell contains a copy of the master DNA blueprint. From these two identical theories, we may conclude that although each Zang organ contains its own function, emotion, spirit and so forth, each organ also contains the functional essence of all the characteristics of the Zangfu organs and the body as a whole.

Looking selectively at the spirit and emotion of the Zang, we can see that each organ ‘houses’ its own respect spirit and emotion. Based upon the theory of Yin and Yang each Zang organ also houses the essence of all the other organs’ emotions and spirits within the body. For example the heart in TCM, ‘houses’ the Shen (mind) and is the organ that controls all the Zangfu. This is because it also ‘houses’ the seed or essence of the rest of the Zangfu and the body as a whole. The Su Wen chapter 8 stated that:

“The heart is the sovereign of all organs and represents the consciousness of one’s being. It is responsible for intelligence, wisdom, and spiritual transformation” (Ni 1995, p34).

Since the seed (cell) contains components of the whole then we need to look closer at what actually makes up the cells of the Zangfu. The word ‘cell’ derives from the Latin ‘cellula’ meaning ‘small chamber’. Every cell is 99.999% empty space with sub-atomic bundles of energy travelling through it at the speed of light ( 2002).

As Gerber (1996, p69) points out at the quantum level of subatomic particles, all matter is literally frozen, particularized energy fields (i.e. frozen light). Complex aggregates of matter (i.e. molecules) are really specialized energy fields. Just as light has a particular frequency or frequencies, so does matter have frequency characteristics as well. The higher the frequency of matter, the less dense, or subtle the matter. Yin and Yang are in essence light. They make up everything that is matter, i.e. the physical cells, when light vibrates at a lower frequency and everything non-matter, i.e. the emotions and spirits, when light vibrates at a higher frequency. The emotions and spirits metaphorically trickle down from the non-physical to the physical cells via the transportation of light.

When an organ i.e. the heart is transplanted, the energy or cellular memory housed in the cells of the tissues also carries the higher frequencies of light (energy held within the forces of Yin and Yang). This can be attributed to Einstein’s infamous equation, E=mc2. This viewpoint sees the human being as a multidimensional organism made up of physical/cellular systems in dynamic interplay with complex regulatory energetic fields (Gerber 1996, p68). If each cell contains 99.999% energy then the cell is in essence light. This allows the cell to contain the seed of the whole organism. Each of the Zang spirits can also contain the seed of each other and are able to communicate with each other at a higher frequency of light. Therefore, if a heart is transplanted, the memory at the cellular level and at the spiritual level, the Shen, will be moved with the donated organ. In addition, the cellular essence or seed of the remaining Zang organs and their relative spirit will also be transplanted with the heart. Literally, the seed of the Hun, Yi, Po and Zhi from the donor will be transported to the recipient of the donated organ. The Shen of the heart is the sovereign of consciousness and in essence is made of higher frequencies of light and is reiterated in Chuang Tzu’s ‘The Fasting of the Heart’, (cited in Diebschlag, 1997):

“Look at this window; it is nothing but a hole in the wall,
but because of it the whole room is full of light.
So when the faculties are empty, the heart is full of light.
Being full of light it becomes an influence
by which others are secretly transformed”.

Orthodox research has shown a theory of how the Zangfu’s emotion and spirit can be related to cellular memory. Pert (1999, p141) states that peptides and other informational substances are the biochemicals of emotion. This theory is further supported by Pearsall, Schwartz and Russek. Pearsall et al. (2002, p191-192) suggest that the recurrent feedback loop of energy exists in all atomic, molecular and cellular systems and store information and energy to various degrees.

Supporting evidence appears in the findings of Miles Herkenham (cited in Pert, 1999, p139) that less than 2 percent of neuronal communication actually occurs at the synapse. If so then the communication of various parts of the organism to other parts of the body is conducted by the release of emotions that are stored in the body via the release of neuropeptide ligands, and that memories are held in their receptors (Pert 1999, p147). Neuropeptides are found all over the body; the heart, lung, brain, etc. When a receptor is flooded with a ligand, it changes the cell membrane in such a way that the probability of an electrical impulse travelling across the membrane where the receptor resides is facilitated or inhibited, thereafter affecting the choice of neuronal circuitry that will be used (Pert 1999, p143).

Further supporting evidence appears in the study by Schwartz and Russek (1997, 1998a, 1998b) (cited in Pearsall et al. 2002, p192) that the rejection process seen in organ transplants, might not only reflect the rejection of the material comprising the cells, but also the cellular information and energy stored within the cells. As Pert (1999, p141 and 192) states, emotional expression is always tied to a specific flow of peptides in the body, repressed traumas caused by overwhelming and chronically suppressed emotions (especially those involved in the traumatic experience of death) result in a massive disturbance of the psychosomatic network and can be stored in a body part.

All of the following are reports taken from donor’s relatives and recipients who have undergone heart transplants. The first report comes from a 19-year-old donor who was killed in an automobile accident. The recipient was a 29-year-old woman diagnosed with cardiomyopathy secondary to endocarditis. The donor’s mother reported that before her daughter died she kept saying how she could feel the impact of the car hitting them. The recipient reported that she could actually feel the accident that her donor had been in (Pearsall et al 2002, p198). This report corresponds to Maciocia’s (1993, p11) theory that the mind (and therefore the heart) can ‘feel’ emotions. From a holographic perspective (Yin and Yang) all the Zang related emotions and spirits of the donor, especially the strong final emotions of her injury that lead to her death, will be transplanted with the cells of the heart. Maciocia (1993, p11) goes on to explain that the emotions affect all the other organs too, but it is only the mind that actually recognizes and feels them. Only the heart can feel it because it stores the mind, which is responsible for insight. This is an accurate account of the heart, yet viewed from the holographic/Yin and Yang perspective, the heart contains the essence of all emotions housed within the body. The heart transplant will also bring about the transplant of the other Zang characteristics, just as much as if a kidney was transplanted with its prevailing emotions and spirit. The importance of the heart is reiterated in chapter 8 of the Su Wen:

“As the heart is the monarch in the organs, it dominates the functions of the various viscera.” (Wu and Wu 1997, p56).

The second report comes from a 34-year-old donor who was a police officer and was killed while trying to arrest a drug dealer. The recipient was a 56-year-old college professor diagnosed with atherosclerosis and ischemic heart disease. The donor’s wife reported that her husband was shot in the face by a man with long hair and a beard. The last thing he must of seen was a terrible flash. The recipient reported that he began to have dreams a few weeks after receiving his donated heart. He would see a flash of light right in front of his face that began to feel really hot and would burn. And just before that time he would get a flash of a man that looked like Jesus (Pearsall et al 2002, p202). Again, we can see that the heart transplant brought some of the donor’s memories. Could it also be that the Hun (ethereal soul) ‘housed’ within the liver has a portion of itself within the heart and that the traumatized ethereal soul unable to express its suppressed emotion (due to the death of its host) will express it within the body, the Shen of the recipient?


With the unveiling of cellular memory, the medical world has concluded that the use of immunosuppressant drugs and the stress of surgery have lead to these findings. I disagree. The idea of organs having emotions and therefore memories is not a new one and has been with us for thousands of years. It seems to be taking humankind longer than that to believe it can be true.

A few questions arise from this essay. Can TCM assist the recipient in the second report with his disturbed sleep and release or balance the unexpressed emotion of his donor? Moreover, could TCM help overcome the rejection of donated organs?


Diebschlag, F. Psychospiritual Aspects of Traditional Chinese Medicine. [online]. 1997. Available from: [Accessed 23 April 2002]

Gerber, R. (1996). Vibrational Medicine. Santa Fe: Bear & Company.

Huang Ti Nei Jing Su Wen. (1995). The Yellow Emperor’s Classic of Chinese Medicine. (1st ed. c.100BC). Boston: Shambhala.

Maciocia, G. (1989). The Foundations of Chinese Medicine. Edinburgh: Churchill Livingstone.

Maciocia, G. (1993). ‘The Psyche in Chinese Medicine’, The European Journal of Oriental Medicine, 1, (1), p10-18.

Ni, M. (1995). The Yellow Emperor’s Classic of Medicine-A New Translation of the Neijing Suwen with Commentary. Boston: Shambhala.

Pert, C. (1999). Molecules of Emotion. London: Simon & Schuster UK Ltd.

Pearshall, P. & Schwartz, G. & Russek, L. (2002). ‘Changes in Heart Transplant Recipients That Parallel the Personalities of Their Donors’, Journal of Near-Death Studies, 20, (3), p191-206.

What Is Cellular Memory Release (CMR)? [online]. (2002). Available from: [Accessed 15 February 2002].

Wu, N. L. & Wu, A. Q. (1997). Yellow Empero’s Canon Internal Medicine. Beijing: China Science & Technology Press.

Yanchi, L. (1995). The Essential Book of Traditional Chinese Medicine. New York: Columbia University Press.


Appendix A

  Wood Fire Earth Metal Water
Season Spring Summer None Autumn Winter
Direction East South Centre West North
Colour Green Red Yellow White Black
Taste Sour Bitter Sweet Pungent Salty
Climate Wind Heat Dampness Dryness Cold
Stage of Development Birth Growth Transformation Harvest Storage
Number 8 7 5 9 6
Planet Jupiter Mars Saturn Venus Mercury
Yin – Yang Lesser Yang Utmost Yang Centre Lesser Yin Utmost Yin
Animal Fish Bird Human Mammals Shell-covered
Domestic Animal Sheep Fowl Ox Dog Pig
Grain Wheat Beans Rice Hemp Millet
Yin Organ Liver Heart Spleen Lungs Kidneys
Yang Organ Gallbladder Small Intestine Stomach Large Intestine Bladder
Sense Organ Eyes Tongue Mouth Nose Ears
Tissue Sinews Vessel Muscles Skin Bones
Emotion Anger Joy Pensiveness Sadness Fear
Spirit Hun Shen Yi Po Zhi
Tone Jue Zhi Gong Shang Yu
Sound Shouting Laughing Singing Crying Groaning

Appendix A. The characteristic aspects of the Zangfu (Adapted from Maciocia 1989, p21).

This Month's Articles

April 2003
Volume 1, Number 4

A T'ai Chi Primer: T'ai Chi Ch'uan Explained

A Cure for PMS

Zangfu Theory and Cellular Memory

Ask The Doctor


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