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Within Chinese Medicine, the Eight Extraordinary Meridians represent the body’s deepest level of energetic structuring. These meridians are the first to form in utero and are carriers of Yuan Qi—the ancestral energy which corresponds to our genetic inheritance. They function as deep reservoirs from which the twelve main meridians can be replenished, and into which the latter can drain their excesses. Other names for these Eight Extraordinary Meridians include the Eight Curious Vessels, the Eight Marvelous Meridians, and the Eight Irregular Vessels.
The specific meridians belonging to the “Eight Extras” family are:
Du Mai (Governing Vessel)
Ren Mai (Conception Vessel)
Chong Mai (Penetrating Vessel)
Dai Mai (Belt Channel)
Yang Chiao Mai (Yang Motility Channel)
Yin Chaio Mai (Yin Motility Channel)
Yang Wei Mai (Yang Regulating Channel)
Yin Wei Mai (Yin Regulating Channel)
In the context of acupuncture, the Eight Extras are typically used in pairs: Ren with Yin Chiao, Du with Yang Chiao, Chong with Yin Wei, and Dai with Yang Wei. Of these eight meridians, only the Ren and the Du have their own acupuncture points; the other six utilize points belonging to the twelve main meridians.