Everything that exist is made up of energy. From the trees, to your phones, and you! Yes you are made of energy. Different followings have over the years called this by different names. In Chinese medicine, it is known as Qi (Chi) whereas in yoga is call Prana. It has also been know as life force, breath or just energy. In all living things this energy is like water that flows through channels. In humans these channels are called Meridians and act like rivers. The Qi flows through each meridian and the point where they join are call chakras. There are 7 main chakras that act like swirling vortexes which join the rivers together. When our Qi (energy) is flowing freely through our channels, our body is in harmony or balance and able to create, repair and heal. When blockages occur within our meridian, it is like a dam forming in a river. The Qi or water cannot pass or is limited creating stress in the body, that can appear as pain, discomfort, ill thoughts, sickness or disease. Meridians can be mapped throughout the body; they flow within the body and not on the surface, meridians exist in corresponding pairs and each meridian has many acupuncture points along its path.
The term ‘meridian’ describes the overall energy distribution system of Chinese Medicine and helps us to understand how basic substances of the body (Qi, blood and body fluids) spread throughout the whole body. The individual meridians themselves are often described as ‘channels’ or even ‘vessels’ which reflects the notion of carrying, holding, or transporting qi, blood and body fluids around the body.
Practitioners of Chinese Medicine must be as knowledgeable about these meridian channels as the Western Doctor is about anatomy and physiology of the physical body. Without this thorough understanding, successful acupuncture treatments would be difficult. A practitioner of Chinese Medicine must know how and where to access the qi energy of the body to facilitate the healing process.
There are twelve main meridians throughout the body in which the Qi or energy flows. Each limb is traversed by six channels, three Yin channels on the inside, and three Yang channels on the outside. Each of the twelve regular channels corresponds to the five Yin organs, the six Yang organs as well as the Pericardium and San Jiao. These are organs that have no anatomical counterpart in Western medicine but also relate to processes in the body. It is also important to remember that organs should not be thought of as being identical with the physical, anatomical organs of the body.
The 12 Main meridians are:
- Lung Meridian
- Large Intestine Meridian
- Stomach Meridian
- Spleen Meridian
- Heart Meridian
- Small Intestine Meridian
- Bladder Meridian
- Kidney Meridian
- Pericardium Meridian
- Triple Heater/Warmer(San Jiao) Meridian
- Gallbladder Meridian
- Liver Meridian
Each meridian is a Yin Yang pair, meaning each Yin organ is paired with its corresponding Yang Organ: the Yin Lung organ, for example, corresponds with the Yang large intestine.
Qi flows in a precise manner through the twelve regular meridians or channels. First, Qi flows from the chest area along the three arm Yin channels (Lung, Pericardium, and Heart) to the hands. There they connect with the three paired arm Yang channels (Large Intestine, San Jiao and Small Intestine) and flow upward to the head. In the head they connect with their three corresponding leg Yang Channels (Stomach, Gall Bladder and Bladder) and flow down the body to the feet. In the feet they connect with their corresponding leg Yin channels (Spleen, Liver, Kidney) and flow up again to the chest to complete the cycle of Qi.
In addition to the twelve regular meridians there are ‘Extraordinary Meridians’, two examples that are shown below are the Conception Vessel (Ren Meridian) and the Governing Vessel (Du Meridian). Although these eight meridians are not directly linked to the major organ system they do have various specific functions:
- They act as reservoirs of Qi and blood for the twelve regular channels, filling and emptying as required
- They circulate jing or ‘essence’ around the body because they have a strong connection with the Kidneys
- They help circulate the defensive Wei Qi over the trunk of the body and, as such, play an important role in maintaining of good health
- They provide further connections between the twelve regular channels
Energy flow along the meridians is not one way. It includes both inward and outward flow. There is flow between yin and yang as well as flow between the arm and leg energies. Keep in mind that energy flow along and between the meridians includes both blood and nerve conduction as well as changes in the body’s electrical fields. Explorations of the flow of chi took many generations of trial and error. By preventing blockages within this internal flow, the body is able to heal itself.
Acutherapy uses meridians to alter the health outcomes in their patients. These pathways are located throughout the body and connect the various organs and organ systems. In general, the meridians follow the course of major nerves that conduct electrical impulses throughout the body.
The meridian system of the human body is a delicate, yet intricate web of interconnecting energy lines. If a person masters an understanding of this meridian system they will know the secrets of the flow of Qi energy in the body. This is a brief introduction to the Meridians, further study can be obtained by completing an Acupressure or Acupuncture Course.