Your body has an amazing communication network - the acupuncture meridians that transport chi and blood to every cell in your body. The meridians are responsible for regulating yin and yang in your body.
The meridians system lies at the heart of Traditional Chinese Medicine. Understanding the meridian system is as important to a doctor of traditional Chinese medicine as understanding anatomy to a western doctor.
There are two main schools of thought as to how knowledge of the meridian system developed.
According to the first school, knowledge of meridians evolved as a result of clinical practice. In other words, doctors and healers in China noticed that applying needles to certain points, and certain sets of points, produced predictable health-giving effects.
Over time the combined knowledge of these practitioners – who were always careful to record the results of their treatments – formed into a coherent theory…which we know today as meridian theory.
The second school of thought suggests that many thousands of years ago, qigong masters, who were skilled in the arts of meditation and advanced breathing techniques felt and saw the paths that chi followed as it flowed through their bodies, and the bodies of others.
Their special skills allowed them to ‘see’ and compare how the body’s energy behaved during illnesses. Over many years, clinical experience confirmed their knowledge into the meridian theory we know today.
To understand how we use the meridians to treat illnesses, you need to know a little about their functions. However rather than trying to explain every function of the meridians in Chinese medicine here, I’ll focus on the functions which make medical acupuncture and related treatments effective.
As you may well know by, each of your regular meridians corresponds to a major organ in your body. Stimulating an acupuncture point on a particular meridian – by needle, moxibustion or any other means – works to regulate the chi flow to the associated organ.
This is one of the most important clinical effects of acupuncture. However…
Many acupuncture points have links – via the complex meridian network – to organs other than the organ they’re named after, as well as different parts of the body.
For example, there is a point on your lower leg, about ten centimetres below your knee and just to the outside of your the tibia bone, called Zusanli. This point lies on your stomach meridian, so it goes without saying that stimulating it with acupuncture improves your stomach function. However Zusanli is also one of the most important points for improving spleen function.
What’s more, stimulating Zusanli is useful for nausea, poor appetite, depression, chills and fever and knee pain, to name a few of its aplications. All these effects are possible thanks to your intricate network of acupuncture meridians.
Let’s face it, unless you’re studying the subject, you’re probably not going to loose much sleep over how the meridians were discovered!
But what does matter to you is the fact that meridian theory gives us the ability to treat all sorts of illnesses with acupuncture, massage and other techniques.
Even western medicine – which is notoriously resistant to ‘alternative’ ideas – accepts acupuncture as a clinically effective way of treating all sorts of conditions.