Acupuncture Meridians

This bronze figure showing acupuncture meridians is a reproduction of one cast in 1443 AD, in the Ming Dynasty.


We have talked about Acupuncture and we have talked about the massage technique of Shiatsu, which uses the same meridians, but we have not specifically explained what they are.

To understand or comprehend the basis of acupuncuture meridians as well as the benefits derived by using them, there are a few principles that need to be understood. These include:

  • Life Force. There is within the body a life force which is called chi. When it is present, life and normalacy is enhanced. When it is absent, one moves towards death.
  • Chi. The two parts of Chi are Yin and Yang. These are two opposing but interrelated aspects of the meridian systems. Chi, the life force energy, resides in and flows throughout the body in channels called meridians. These channels connect with the major organs of the body and ultimitely with each other.

    In Western Medicine there are no anatomical pathways that chi follows (or even chi for that matter), but from an oriental concept it is understood that these pathways, or acupuncture meridians, are real.

    To help you understand it, think of it as physiological in nature. Just because it cannot be seen physically does not mean that it does not exist.

    We talked more about Yin and Yang on our "Acupuncture" page.


  • Balance. The human body is capable of maintaining a balance in all things. Internally this is called homeostasis. Homeostasis is defined as the obtaining and maintaining of optimal levels within the body.

    We talked about homeostasis on our "Benefits of Drinking Water" page.

  • Imbalance. Interference in optimal body conditions results in an imbalance in chi energy and in the acupuncture meridians and this in turn results in deficiencies and excesses of chi in various parts of the body. When this happens disease and other bodily malfunctions become evident.
  • Contributing Factors. These imbalances can happen as the result of being exposed to external environmental factors such as adverse weather conditions, exposure to entities like bacteria and viruses and from injury to any part of the body.

    It can also be affected from exposure to internal factors such as stress, relationship pressures, and from many other internal malfunctions.

  • Measurability. The imbalance of chi energy in the acupuncture meridians can be determined, measured, assessed, diagnosed, and treated.
  • Restore. Utilizing various methods of acupuncture, including chinese acupuncture, the interference caused from imbalanced chi energy can be worked with and balance can be restored to the body with the resultant disappearance of the disease or the malfunctions.
  • Methods. Balancing chi in the acupuncture meridians can be achieved by utilizing any of the acupuncture methods such as:

    • needling
    • acupressure
    • electricity
    • herbs
    • nutrition
    • tapping, or other types of stimulation
  • Treatment. Treating acupuncture meridians is not a cure all approach to health - nothing is. It can be a primary treatment or it can be used with any other type of treating approach to enhance the results.


In Zhen Jiu Da Cheng compiled in 1601 nine kinds of needles and their various clinical applications are recorded.


With the above understanding one can begin to grasp the concepts involved in working with acupuncture meridians. Utilizing these concepts, there appears to be a two-way communication between internal organs and areas on the skin called acupoints.

There are a number of acupoints along each meridian and each has been identified, numbered, and assessed as to how they are related to and how they affect or are affected by the body and its various functions or malfunctions.

It is believed that a malfunction or disease process anywhere in the body produces a reflex effect at one or more of these points on the acupuncture meridians.

By producing a correct and appropriate stimulus at these points by using one of the methods listed above, the malfunctions and disease processes can be helped and even reversed.


Acupuncturists have developed a chart which helps us understand the general flow of chi energy. It is entitled, "The General Circulation of Energy."

The chart demonstrates that there are twelve main channels (acupuncture meridians) through which chi flows. Each of these consists of right half and an identical left half and are found on the right and left sides of the body respectively.

Chi travels along each meridian and travels into the next meridian in an unbroken fashion so that the energy travels through each meridian and ultimately throughout the body.

The outside loops of the chart shows flow of energy from one meridian to the next - showing entrance and exit points, for example, LV-14 to LU-1 (see above).


Ten of the twelve acupuncture meridians are named after a major organ and each affects a particular organ with its functions along with other activites of the body. They are:

  1. Lung (LU) with 11 acupoints (3-5 AM)
  2. Large Intestine (LI) with 20 acupoints (5-7 AM)
  3. Stomach (ST) with 45 acupoints (7-9 AM)
  4. Spleen (SP) with 21 acupoints (9-11 AM)
  5. Heart (HT) with 9 acupoints (11 AM-1 PM)
  6. Small Intestine (SI) with 19 acupoints (1-3 PM)
  7. Bladder (BL) with 67 acupoints (sometimes referred to as Urinary Bladder (UB) (3-5 PM)
  8. Kidney (KI) with 27 acupoints (5-7PM)
  9. Gallbladder (GB) with 44 acupoints (11 PM-1 AM)
  10. Liver (LV) with 14 acupoints (1-3 AM)

The other two are not named after a primary organ but are functional. They are the:

  1. Tri-Heater or Triple Heather (TH) with 23 acupoints (9-11 PM)
  2. Heart Constrictor (HC) with 9 acupoints (7-9 PM)

The Tri-Heater works with the transfer of energy and its proper use in the body.

  • The upper 1/3 is concerned primarily with the chest area and helps control the exchange of gases in the lungs.
  • The middle 1/3 is concerned with the abdominal area and deals with energy production and digestive activities.
  • The bottom 1/3 affects the pelvic area and deals with urinary and genital activities.
  • The other acupuncture meridian that deals with function, the Heart Constrictor, protects the heart and helps to control the action of the heart, circulatory system, the reproductive system, as well as the mental processes of the brain and body.


    Chi energy flows through these twelve meridians in a constant and orderly fashion always in the same direction. This pattern forms a biological clock and is named the "horary cycle."

    During each 24 hour day, each meridian has a two hour time at which it peaks in energy. The meridian on the opposite side of the clock is at its lowest point during that time.

    So when you go to an acupuncturist and he asks you what time of day the symptoms are greatest you will understand how the energy works.


    In addition to the 12 bilateral channels, there are two midline acupuncture meridians.

    1. The one on the front of the body is known as the Vessel of Conception (VC) with 24 acupoints.
    2. The meridian on the back midline of the body is the Governing Vessel (GV) with 28 points.

    These two meridians are not connected with a particular organ or function of the body. They instead act as reservoirs to store and control chi energy.

    The Conception vessel controls the Yin meridians and the Governing Vessel controls the Yang meridians. They help the other meridians work together.

    There are also six extra meridians. They connect the body horizontally and act as reservoirs for chi. They have no acupoints of their own but serve to connect the major acupuncture meridians.

    In addition, such areas as the ear and the hand are mapped out for the whole body and can be stimulated utilizing acupuncture concepts to affect what ever part of the body that one may wish to stimulate.


    Hopefully, this is helpful in understanding how acupuncture meridians work. We talked more about chi, yin and yang, and some history of acupuncture on our "Acupuncture" page.

    To understand more about this phenomenal approach to achieving and maintaining optimum health, watch for the following pages:

  • The Five Elements and How They are Related to the Sheng, Ko, and Luo Cycles
  • Locating Acupuncture Points in the Meridians
  • Thanks to Dr. Cook for this very informative page on the acupuncture meridians.


    Go from Acupuncture Meridians to Five Chinese Elements


    Return from Acupuncture Meridians to Namas Natural Remedies home page


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