The meridian systems are used in most Chinese medicine as points that will help to heal. They are most often used in acupuncture and massage that is practiced through professional practitioners of Chinese medicine. These particular points, when measured scientifically, are known to be like pressure points that affect other parts of the human system.
Currently, Western science does not recognize the existence of discrete “energy vessels” in the body that are analogous to blood vessels; but to the Chinese the meridians that carry Qi are actual anatomical structures that can be palpated and treated. The function of meridians is to transport Qi and Blood, connect the internal organs, and provide pathways between the inside and outside of the body.
The meridian system consists of twelve principal meridians which correspond to the five Yin and five Yang organs, plus the Pericardium (Yin) and Triple Burner (Yang). So there is a meridian for the Heart, Lungs, Liver, Spleen, and Kidneys (Zang), and for their paired organs, the Small Intestine, Large Intestine, Gall Bladder, Stomach, and Urinary Bladder (Fu). There are also eight “extraordinary” meridians, a system of tendino-muscular meridians close to the surface of the skin, a system of “divergent” meridians, and “luo” channels that connect paired Yin and Yang meridians.
Through the meridians, every part of the body is connected to the whole: the internal organs communicate between themselves and have access to the surface of the body; the skin, muscles, and extremities have networks of secondary meridians that circulate energy on the surface and also tap into deeper levels. Each principal meridian is associated with a group of symptoms that appear when the meridian is not functioning properly. For example, cough, dyspnea, asthma, sore throat, and a feeling of fullness in the chest are associated with Lung meridian dysfunction.
The meridian system is used in several ways in the diagnosis and treatment of disease. Sometimes the problem is with the meridian itself, as in the case of simple tendonitis, muscle strain, or an atrophied area of tissue. These are generally viewed as local problems, and are treated locally to the injury. In other cases, the problem is an imbalance or disease of an internal organ, and the meridian system is utilized as an avenue to the seat of the problem. For example, a digestive problem would be treated by using acupuncture points along the Spleen and Stomach meridians, since these meridians connect directly to “their” organs.
Chinese medicinal herbs and foods are also tied into this system because they are classified by taste (Five Phase theory), property (Yin/Yang theory), and by which meridians they enter (and therefore which internal organs they affect).
By: Paul Hata
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