This bronze figure showing acupuncture meridians is a reproduction of one cast in 1443 AD, in the Ming Dynasty.
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:
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.
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:
The other two are not named after a primary organ but are functional. They are the:
The Tri-Heater works with the transfer of energy and its proper use in the body.
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.
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:
Thanks to Dr. Cook for this very informative page on the acupuncture meridians.
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