What are Acupuncture Meridians? In acupuncture, meridians function as energy pathways in your body. Energy, in Traditional Chinese Medicine, is known as Qi pronounced as Chee. Energy flows all throughout your body through these meridians. The energy flows within you and that means inside your body and not on your skin. These meridians come in pairs. Specific acupuncture points run along the course of these meridians. You can think of meridians as vessels and they carry, hold and transport energy all throughout the body as with blood and other body fluids.

A lot of people confuse meridians with blood vessels since they more or less function the same way. While they may be similar in some aspects, what makes them different is the fact that you cannot physically see meridians unlike blood vessels. You can think of meridians as a network that distributes energy all over the body. It helps to think of it as a process instead of a structure.

All Chinese Medicine practitioners must be well versed in these channels as a medical doctor is on the body’s physical anatomy. If a TCM practitioner doesn’t have a comprehensive understanding of these meridians, acupuncture therapy will never be successful and they cannot be able to deliver the desired results. If you practice Chinese Medicine you must know the specific points to access in order to promote healing.

According to Chinese medicine, the body has a total of twelve invisible meridians where Qi freely flows. Every limb of your body consists of six channels, three channels inside called the Yin and three channels outside called the Yang. Each of these channels are linked to a total of 5 Yin organs while the remaining channels are linked to 6 Yang organs also the San Jiao and the Pericardium.

Energy flows throughout the body in a very systematic manner and it flows through all 12 channels. The energy starts at the chest area and runs along the three Yin channels of the arm where they are linked to the heart, pericardium and the lung down to the hands. They are then connected to 3 Yang channels that are linked to the large intestine, small intestine and the San Jiao. After which, the energy flows upward straight to the head and once the energy gets to the head it then links with 3 leg Yang meridians that correspond to the bladder, gall bladder and the stomach. The energy will continue to follow to the rest of the body down to the feet and once it gets to the feet it will link with the Yin channels of the leg that corresponds to the kidney, liver and spleen and the energy flow is restored when it goes back to the chest to repeat the cycle.

Aside from the 12 meridian channels, acupuncture also has other channels known as the extraordinary meridians. They are extraordinary in the sense that they do not link to any major organ system in the body. However, they carry various functions like acting as reservoirs for energy and blood to fill and empty the meridians whenever necessary and to circulate jing or what we call essence all throughout the body since they are strongly linked to the kidneys. These extraordinary channels also aid in circulating Wei Qui in the trunk area, which is responsible in preserving good health as well as providing connections between all meridians.

An acupuncturist must not only be familiar with these meridians but they have to know them like the back of their hand because the only way to achieve health and wellness is by understanding and knowing what acupuncture points to hit along the meridians.

Dr. Ziki Dekel is a licensed acupuncturist (L.Ac.), nationally certified in acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine. Dr. Dekel has also practiced acupuncture at Saint Vincent’s Hospital. He has a B.A. from Brown University.