What is the Meridian System?
Updated: Jun 9
If you have been in my treatment room, you have seen my model on the counter with the meridians all over it. A lot of the time people will think that the meridians are actually the
nervous system, and thats why I get the common question ‘so you are hitting the nerve, right?’. Actually no, not at all. If I hit the nerve with an acupuncture needle it would be quite uncomfortable. I needle along the meridian system.
But what exactly are meridians?
The word ‘meridian’, as used in Chinese Medicine, is roughly translated to “to go through”, “a net”, or “something that connects or attaches”. Meridians are channels or pathways that carry Qi (Energy) and Blood through the body. It is important to keep in mind that even though meridians carry Blood, they are not vessels. They are an invisible system that links the body together. The simplest way to visualize the meridian system in the body is like a highway,
and the cars are Qi. So now that you see a highway on your body, we can move a little bit deeper.
“The Meridians move the Qi and Blood, regulate Yin and Yang, moisten the tendons and bones, benefit joints” Nei Jing.
Meridians connect the exterior of the body to the interior, this is the basis of acupuncture theory.
There are twelve regular meridians in the body. Six of them travel up and down from your toes to your head. Then the other six travel between your fingers and torso/head. The meridians are located all over the body – anterior, posterior, medial and lateral. Meridians flow deep within the body, not just superficially on your skin.
From the twelve regular meridians, there are six yin and six yang meridians. They are divided even further by three of each on each arm or leg. From those six, they are paired with each other. I know this might seem a little tricky so here is an example.
The Large Intestine meridian is yang in nature, it runs from the pointer finger up the arm and neck and ends at the nose. Its paired meridian, the Lung meridian, is yin in nature and runs from the chest to the thumb. So you can see that they travel similar pathways but begin and terminate at opposite sides.
So this is why if someone has back pain, there will likely be needles in your hands and feet along with your back. The points along specific meridians are indicated to help with back pain.
Unfortunately the understanding of the interconnections between fundamental connections, organs and meridians is a couple text books longer than this blog. But hopefully now you have a little bit of insight into what exactly meridians are. Feel free to ask me further questions.
Each meridian is a certain element, but we will dive into elements in the next blog. So stay tuned!
Resources: The Web That Has No Weaver, The Foundations of Chinese Medicine