Chinese Journal of Integrative Medicine

, Volume 25, Issue 1, pp 64–70 | Cite as

Shen-Jing as a Chinese Medicine Concept Might Be a Counterpart of Stem Cells in Regenerative Medicine

  • Yan-bo Ren
  • Jian-hua Huang
  • Wai-jiao Cai
  • Zi-yin ShenEmail author
Academic Exploration


As the epitome of the modern regenerative medicine, stem cells were proposed in the basic sense no more than 200 years ago. However, the concept of “stem cells” existed long before the modern medical description. The hypothesis that all things, including our sentient body, were generated from a small origin was shared between Western and Chinese people. The ancient Chinese philosophers considered Jing (also known as essence) as the origin of life. In Chinese medicine (CM), Jing is mainly stored in Kidney (Shen) and the so-called Shen-Jing (Kidney essence). Here, we propose that Shen-Jing is the CM term used to express the meaning of “origin and regeneration”. This theoretical discovery has at least two applications. First, the actions underlying causing Shen-Jing deficiency, such as excess sexual intercourse, chronic diseases, and aging, might damage the function of stem cells. Second, a large number of Chinese herbs with Shen-Jing-nourishing efficacy had been proven to affect stem cell proliferation and differentiation. Therefore, if Shen-Jing in CM is equivalent with stem cells in regenerative medicine, higher effective modulators for regulating stem-cell behaviors from Kidney-tonifying herbs would be expected.


Shen-Jing Kidney essence Kidney tonifying herbs regenerative medicine stem cells 


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Copyright information

© Chinese Association of the Integration of Traditional and Western Medicine 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Yan-bo Ren
    • 1
  • Jian-hua Huang
    • 1
  • Wai-jiao Cai
    • 1
  • Zi-yin Shen
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.Institute of Integrated Chinese and Western Medicine, Huashan HospitalFudan UniversityShanghaiChina

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