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Zang-fu is the general term for the organs of the human body, and includes the six zang organs, the six fu organs and the extraordinary fu organs. The heart, lung, spleen, liver, kidney and pericardium are known as the six zang organs. The gallbladder, stomach, small intestine, large intestine, bladder and sanjiao are known as the six fu organs. The brain, marrow, bones, vessels, gallbladder and uterus are known as the "extraordinary fu" organs.
Since the pericardium is a protective membrane of the heart and the "extraordinary fu" organs pertain respectively to the other fu organs, they are generally referred to as five zang and six fu organs. The main physiological functions of the zang organs are to manufacture and store essential substances, including vital essence, qi, blood and body fluid. The main physiological functions of the fu organs are to receive and digest food, and transmit and excrete the wastes.
This description not only describes the functions of the zang-fu organs, but also points out the basic physiological differences between the zang and the fu organs in their physiological functions.
Although the zang organs are different from the fu organs in terms of physiological activities, there is a structural and functional connection by the way of meridians and collaterals between individual zang and fu organ, between the zang and fu organs collectively, and between the zang-fu organs on the one hand, and the five sense organs and tissues on the other.