What is meridian system in acupuncture?

The meridian (also called channel) is a path through which the life-energy known as "qi" flows, in traditional Chinese medicine. Like a network of rivers nourishing a landscape, the meridians are the channels through which qi flows, to nourish and energize the human body. These channels exist within the subtle body – you won’t find them on the operating table! They also act as a network of communication between the physical and the more subtle energetic bodies.


Classification of Meridians

The Meridian System has 12 principal meridians that correspond to the yin and yang organs and the pericardium. (Yin organs are usually those without an empty cavity, and include the liver, heart, spleen, lungs, and kidneys. Yang organs are organs with an empty cavity such as the gall bladder, small intestine, stomach, large intestine and bladder. In TCM, yin and yang organs are physiological functional units that incorporate a much broader meaning then common western thinking.) Meridians linked with yin organs are known as yin meridians; if they are linked to yang organs, they are known as yang meridians. In addition to the12 principal meridians, there are eight extra meridians and smaller network-like luo meridians. Among the eight extra meridians, the Governing Vessel and the Conception Vessel are considered the most important channels, because they contain acupuncture points which are independent of the twelve principal meridians.


Eight extraordinary meridians:These eight extra meridians are different to the standard twelve organ meridians in that they are considered to be storage vessels or reservoirs of energyand are not associated directly with the Zang Fu or internal organs.

The eight extraordinary vessels are ,

  • Conception Vessel (Ren Mai)
  • Governing Vessel (Du Mai)
  • Penetrating Vessel (Chong Mai)
  • Girdle Vessel (Dai Mai)
  • Yin linking vessel (Yin Wei Mai)
  • Yang linking vessel (Yang Wei Mai)
  • Yin Heel Vessel (Yin Qiao Mai)
  • Yang Heel Vessel (Yang Qiao Mai)

Acupuncture Meridian Pathways

1.Lung Meridian (LU) The Hand Greater Yin (Tai Yin) of the Lung has 11 points

The Lung Meridian begins in an area called the middle burner, which is near the navel.

It goes down to the large intestine and then up through the lungs to the collar bone where it splits into two branches with one going down each arm. Once it reaches the hand, it splits into two more branches with one going to the tip of the thumb and the other going to the tip of the index finger where it connects to Large Intestine Meridian

Acupuncture points in this meridian are used for gynecological, genital, kidney, lung, and pharynx (throat) diseases. They are also indicated for symptoms associated with the pathway of the meridian.


2.Large Intestine (LI) The Hand Bright Yang (Yang MIng) of the Large Intestine 20 points

The large intestine is called the 'Minister of Transportation'. It controls the transformation of digestive wastes from liquid to solid state and transports the solids onwards and outwards for excretion through the rectum. It plays a major role in the balance and purity of bodily fluids and assists the lungs in controlling the skin's pores and perspiration.

Coupled with the lungs by Metal energy, the large intestine depends on the lungs for movement via the expansion and contraction of the diaphragm, which works like a pump to give impetus to peristalsis by regulating abdominal pressure. Thus sluggish bowels may be stimulated and constipation cured by deep diaphragmic breathing and by tonifying lung energy. Conversely, congested lungs and clogged bronchial passages may be cleared by purging the bowels.


3.Stomach Meridian (ST) The Foot Bright Yang (Yang MIng) of the Stomach 45 points

The stomach is called the 'Minister of the Mill' and is also known as the 'Sea of Nourishment'. Because it is responsible for providing the entire system with postnatal energy from the digestion of food and fluids, it is regarded as the 'Root of Postnatal Life'. In addition to digesting bulk foods and fluids and moving them onwards to the small intestine for extraction and assimilation of nutrients, the stomach also extracts pure postnatal energy from foods and fluids, and in coordination with spleen energy it transports this food energy through the meridian system to the lungs, where it combines with air energy from breathing. This is a function of the stomach not acknowledged in Western medicine, which focuses only on the biochemistry of digestion and does not recognize the bioenergetic aspect.




4.Spleen Meridian (SP) The Foot Greater Yin (Tai Yin) of the Spleen 21 points

In TCM, the Spleen-Pancreas system (also commonly just referred to as the Spleen) encompasses all the other organs of digestion, including the stomach and small & large intestine.

Eastern medical theory describes the Spleen as being like the Earth – just as the earth provides food for our nourishment, so the digestive system produces the energy and nourishment needed by the rest of our bodies. Because of this, it plays a central role in our overall health – if we have a strong and healthy Spleen system, we usually have a greater ability to recover from sickness. the Spleen is also important in controlling how fluids are distributed throughout the body. Symptoms such as abdominal bloating, fluid retention, edema, and heaviness of the body, phlegm and mucous buildup in the respiratory system are all signs of an imbalance in the Spleen.

In Traditional Oriental Medicine, the Spleen controls our mental ability to think and concentrate.. With an imbalance in the Spleen system, people often experience things such as difficulty to focus, feeling foggy-headed (especially after meals), and a tendency to over-think & over worry.

Some conditions often related to the Spleen: nausea,colic ,irritable bowel ,fatigue ,bloating ,water retention ,over thinking ,anxiety ,worry


5. Heart Meridian (HT, HE) The Hand Lesser Yin (Shao Yin) of the Heart 9 points

The heart is called the 'King' of the organs. The Internal Medicine Classic states: 'The heart commands all of the organs and viscera, houses the spirit, and controls the emotions.' In Chinese, the word for 'heart' (hsin) is also used to denote 'mind'. When the heart is strong and steady, it controls the emotions; when it is weak and wavering, the emotions rebel and prey upon the heart-mind, which then loses its command over the body.

Physiologically, the heart controls the circulation and distribution of blood, and therefore all the other organs depend upon it for sustenance. Thoughts and emotions influence the function of various organs via pulse and blood pressure, which are controlled by the heart, where emotions arise. Internally, the heart is functionally associated with the thymus gland, which is located in the same cavity and forms a mainstay of the immune system. Extreme emotions such as grief and anger have an immediate suppressive effect on the immune system by inhibiting thymus function, a phenomenon that has long been observed but little understood in Western medicine.


Externally, the heart is related to the tongue, to which it is connected by the heart muscle. The color and texture of the tongue thus reflect the condition of the heart. Speech impediments such as stuttering and mutism are often caused by dysfunction or imbalance in heart energy. Facial complexion, which is a direct reflection of blood circulation, is also a major external indicator of heart function. Fire energy makes the heart the dominant organ of summer, during which season the heart must increase circulation to the surface in order to dissipate excess body heat.

6. Small Intestine Meridian (SI) The Hand Greater Yang (Tai Yang) of the Small Intestine 19 points

Known as the 'Minister of Reception', the small intestine receives partially digested food from the stomach and further refines it, separating 'the pure from the impure', then assimilating the purified nutrients and moving the impure wastes onwards to the large intestine for elimination. Associated with the heart by Fire energy, the small intestine controls the more basic emotions, as reflected in the Chinese term duan chang ('broken intestines'), which is equivalent to the English term 'broken heart'. Its energy meridian runs into the head, where it influences the function of the pituitary gland, the 'master gland' whose secretions regulate growth, metabolism, immunity, sexuality, and the entire endocrine system.





7. Bladder Meridian (BL, UB) The Foot Greater Yang (Tai Yang) of the Bladder 67 points

The Urinary Bladder Meridian begins at the inside edge of each eye and goes up over the top of the head to the back of the neck where it splits into two parts. One branch goes down through the bladder while the other one runs along the spinal cord to the knee where the two branches intersect. They then go near the Achilles Tendon where they meet the Kidney Meridian. From here, the Bladder Meridian continues to the tip of the little toes. Blockage in the Urinary Bladder Meridian often manifests itself as incontinence or other urinary disorders.





8. Kidney Meridian (KI) The Foot Lesser Yin (Shao Yin) of the Kidney 27 points

In the case of the child, the Kidney system is still in development while for the older person, a weakening Kidney function is just a progression of the natural aging process:

  • bald / balding
  • no teeth / loosing teeth
  • bed-wetting / incontinent
  • weak back & legs / hunched back
  • soft bones & open fontanel / brittle bones
  • undeveloped memory / poor memory
  • undeveloped reproductive organs / declining sexual function
  • Eastern view of the Kidney system involves many other parts of the body as well:
  • urinary system ,reproductive system ,hormones ,growth & development ,bones & marrow, especially the spine ,brain function & memory
  • According to Traditional Oriental Medicine, the Kidney is also in charge of controlling the Fluid metabolism throughout the body and could be thought of as the coolant system that prevents things from overheating. For example, a condition commonly treated with acupuncture is the typical menopausal woman where the Kidney system is not doing its job of cooling the body. As a result, this extra heat rises up and collects towards the top of the body, producing symptoms such as hot flashes, night sweats, shoulder pain, and insomnia.

    In addition, the Kidney is regarded as a measure of strength of a person’s constitution, similar to what Western medicine might refer to as hereditary and genetic factors.

    In the case of the Kidney, its emotions are associated with fear, shock, and willpower. An obvious example of this would be someone who gets a sudden scare and loses control of their bladder. Another less common example could be someone who experienced a traumatic event and seemed to age overnight as a result.

    Some conditions often related to the Kidney:back pain ,knee & foot pain ,fatigue ,diabetes, menopause / hot flashes ,hypothyroid / hyperthyroid ,urinary problems ,insomnia ,poor memory ,lack of willpower

9. Pericardium Meridian Pathway & Point Locations The Hand Terminal Yin (Jue Yin) of the Pericardium 9 points

Known as the 'King's Bodyguard', the pericardium is the heart's protective sack. it is regarded in Chinese medicine as a Fire-energy organ whose special function is to protect the heart. Not only does the pericardium provide the heart with physical protection, its energy also protects the heart from damage and disruption by excessive emotional energies generated by the other organs, such as anger from the liver, fear from the kidneys, and grief from the lungs. In the Chinese system of health, extreme outbursts of the Seven Emotions are regarded as powerful disruptors of internal energy balance and major causes of disease. Without the pericardium to protect it, the heart would be subject to injury from the radical fluctuations in energy caused by every emotional up and down of the day.

The pericardium also helps regulate circulation in the major blood vessels that run in and out of the heart. Emotionally, pericardium energy is related to the loving feelings associated with sex, thereby linking the physical and emotional aspects of sexual activity. It does this by moderating the raw sexual energy of the kidneys with the all embracing love generated by the heart.


The Pericardium has a powerful influence on the patient's mental and emotional states. Its goal is to "create feelings of joy and/or pleasure for the emperor (Heart)." Note: The Pericardium Meridian is also commonly referred to as the "Heart Constrictor" Meridian and the "Circulation-Sex" Meridian

10. Triple Warmer Meridian Pathway & Point Locations (TW, TB, SJ) The Hand Lesser Yang (Shao Yang) of the San Jiao 23 points

The triple heater meridian is a yang meridian and is paired with the pericardium yin meridian. The triple heater meridian gets its name from having 3 heating sections. The upper section is in the head and neck area, the middle section is in the chest area and the bottom section is in the navel area. The job of the Triple Heater Meridian is to regulate the flow of energy in these three regions

Important Triple Heater Meridian points-

  • TH3 Central Islet – This point is frequently used for disorders in the ears such as tinnitus and deafness.
  • TH5 Outer Pass – this is a very important point for many general imbalances such as migraines, common colds, fevers and arthritis
  • TH6 Branch Ditch – this point can be used for chest pain and to relieve extra heat in the lower region that can lead to constipation.
  • TH8 Three Yang Connection - this is an important point for treating various types of chest pain.
  • TH14 Shoulder Bone Hole – this is an important point that can be used to help shoulder problems and pain
  • .
  • TH17 Wind Screen - this point is frequently used to treat ear conditions such as aches, infections and ringing.

11. Gall Bladder Meridian Pathway & Point Locations The Foot Lesser Yang (Shao Yang) of the Gall bladder 44 points

Known as the 'Honorable Minister', the gall bladder is in charge of the 'Central Clearing Department'. It secretes the pure and potent bile fluids required to digest and metabolize fats and oils, and its energy provides muscular strength and vitality. It works with the lymphatic system to clear toxic by-products of metabolism from the muscular system, thereby eliminating muscular aches and fatigue. In the Chinese system, the common tension headache is caused by obstruction in the gall-bladder meridian, which runs up over the shoulders and back of the neck to the top of the head and forehead. Hence such headaches are usually accompanied by neck and shoulder tension.

The gall bladder governs daring and decisiveness. In Chinese, the word for 'daring' is da dan ('big gall'). The English language also acknowledges this psychophysiological relationship with the phrase 'a lot of gall'. An old Chinese adage states: 'The gall bladder is daring, the heart is careful', which reflects the stimulating generative influence of Wood to Fire.



12. Liver Meridian Pathway & Point Locations The Foot Terminal Yin (Jue Yin) of the Liver 14 points

In "General" the liver is responsible for filtering, detoxifying, nourishing, replenishing and storing the blood. The liver controls the peripheral nervous system, which regulates muscle activity and ligament elasticity. The liver function is reflected externally in the condition of fingernails and the eyes. The liver in the wood element governs growth and development, drives and desires ambitions and creativity. Obstruction of the liver energy can cause intense feelings of frustration, rage and anger.The body needs to rest while the liver works hard, cleaning up after the daily intake of food and drink.

The distal points along the liver meridian are used in eye disorders, liver and gall bladder disorders and headaches.




Conception Vessel Meridian Pathway & Point Locations The Directing Channel has 24 points

This is used in Chinese medicine and acupuncture to help your body improve its Yin qualities. It's not just a meridian. Its name suggests that it's also a reservoir - for yin. In particular, the Conception vessel, being the sea of yin, has the capacity to absorb excess yin energy. Because its pair is the Governing meridian, very often both are needed when either yin or yang is in excess. But the more common use of the Conception Vessel is to enhance Yin qualities to enable pregnancy to occur.

The master point for the Ren meridian is Lung 7, which is coupled with Kidney 6, on the yin qiao mai channel. The Conception Vessel relates to responsibility for, or fostering of, the process of birth, whether it be that of a child, a creative idea, or an endeavor.

The Ren receives and transports the qi of all the yin meridians, and therefore regulates the uterus, menstruation, menopause, pregnancy, etc. Since the master point is on the Lung channel, it is associated with respiratory syndromes, e.g., childhood asthma.

The pairing of ren mai and yin qiao mai, with its attendant Lung/Kidney relationship, energetically affects the lungs, chest and throat, and is very useful in a clinical situation, especially in addressing breathing imbalances.


Governing Vessel Meridian Pathway & Point Locations The Governing Channel has 28 points

The master point of the Du Mai is Small Intestine 3; this meridian governs the qi of all the yang meridians. It is coupled with the yang qiao mai, whose master point is Bladder 62. This meridian pair is effective in treating stiffness in the shoulder, neck and back, and also regulates the inner canthus of the eye. When this coupling of meridians is utilized in treatment, the entire spine is addressed. It also nourishes the brain, and treats dizziness and tinnitus. On an energetic level, the Du relates to transformational cycles, survival issues, and groundedness in the world. Psychospiritually, issues of becoming "upright" and independent, as well as risk-taking, are relevant.





Chong Mai: Penetrating Vessel

The master point of the Chong is Spleen 4, which is combined with Pericardium 6 on the yin wei mai channel. This pair affects the heart, chest and stomach. This "vital passage" regulates the flow of qi and blood in the 12 regular meridians, and is significant in gynecological disorders, digestive issues, prolapses, and problems with the heart. Energetically, it relates to intergenerational patterns, issues arising from abuse, and cellular memory. Psychospiritually, an imbalance in the Chong meridian negatively impacts our self-acceptance and self-love.

Weis: Linking Vessels

The yin and yang wei mai function as connecting or networking vessels. They also help to maintain the balance of the body's yin and yang. Because of this, they relate to the transitions involved in the aging process, and the accompanying transformation of yin or yang energies.

Yin Wei Mai

The yin wei mai is paired with the Chong Mai, as previously stated. This combination permits energetic access to the Neiguan, the inner gate to the self. Psychospiritually, this vessel is concerned with the meaning that we derive from life, and helps us to respond to life with clarity and compassion.

Yang Wei Mai

The opening point of the yang wei mai is Triple Heater 5, which is coupled with Gall Bladder 41 on the Dai Mai. This combination dominates the exterior of the body, and is relevant in conditions of chills and fever. Energetically, it regulates our old habits and patterns, and the release of these pre-established modes of behavior that prevent us from evolving. Psychospiritually, since the yang wei mai represents the last stage of defense before the body is penetrated by an invading pathogen, this meridian can be used to treat issues of terminal illness, such as cancer or AIDS.

The Qiaos: Heel Vessels

The qiao vessels originate on the inside/outside of the heel, add agility to the body, and govern motion, especially that of the lower limbs.

Yin Qiao Mai

This channel is paired with the Ren Mai; with energetic imbalances in this meridian, manifestations include left/right imbalance, inversion of the foot, pain in the eyes, somnolence, etc. Psychospiritually, there are issues of self-trust, abandonment, depression, and feelings of unworthiness.

Yang Qiao Mai

The yang qiao mai is paired with the Du Mai; syndromes include a sensation of "walking on a slant," excessive thinking, and a generalized feeling of being overwhelmed and out-of-control. Conditions such as insomnia, epilepsy, facial paralysis and Bell's palsy (related to wind in the face) are relevant.

Dai Mai: Belt Meridian

The master point of the Dai Mai is Gall Bladder 41, paired with Triple Heater 5 on yin wei mai. This combination impacts the retroaurical area, the cheek, and the outer canthus of the eye. Energetic issues involving the Dai Mai, or zuling, can manifest in a person "near to tears" from frustration, indecision or low self-esteem. Psychospiritually, this meridian is a repository for unexpressed emotions and psychological complexes that require transformation. The repression of these shadow aspects of the personality may give rise to dampness of body/mind/spirit.

Acupuncture points

Acupuncture points (acupoints) are locations on the body that are the focus of acupuncture, acupressure, sonopuncture and laser acupuncture treatment. Several hundred acupuncture points are considered to be located along meridians (connected points across the anatomy which affect a specific organ or other part of the body). There are also numerous "extra points" not associated with a particular meridian.

Acupoints used in treatment may or may not be in the same area of the body as the targeted symptom. The Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) theory for the selection of such points and their effectiveness is that they work by stimulating the meridian system to bring about relief by rebalancing yin, yang and qi (also spelled "chi" or "ki"). This theory is based on the paradigm of TCM and has no analogue in western medicine.

Body acupoints are generally located using a measurement unit, called the cun, that is calibrated according to their proportional distances from various landmark points on the body. Acupoint location usually depends on specific anatomical landmarks that can be palpated.[3] Many of these basic points are rarely used. Some points are considered more therapeutically valuable than others, and are used very frequently for a wide array of health conditions.

Points tend to be located where nerves enter a muscle, the midpoint of the muscle, or at the enthesis where the muscle joins with the bone.[4] Location by palpation for tenderness is also a common way of locating acupoints (trigger point). A total of 360 points are generally recognized, but the number of points has changed over the centuries. Roughly 2/3 of the points are considered "yang", while the remaining 1/3 are considered "yin".

How to find the block in the meridian pathway?

The blockage in the meridian pathway can be diagnosed by a computerized digital meridian imaging system is “ACUGRAPH”. With the help of Acugraph equipment, we can analyze and document the energetic status of the Acupuncture meridians. The acugraph system allows measuring and analysing the energy balance of each acupuncture meridian with the availability of this equipment in modern acupuncture, diaganosis and treatment became better.


Disruption Of Meridian System Function Via Man-Made EMF's

Increasingly, we live in a sea of man-made EMF's, produced by our various electrical and WiFi devices. If we naturally have a strong constitution, or through our qigong practice have developed a strongly-balanced energy-body, then we may remain largely unaffected by the electromagnetic currents of our computers, cell phones and AC electrical grid in our homes.

But for most of us, the field of man-made EMF's has disruptive, and potentially very harmful, effects upon our body's meridian system -- which is the "analog nervous system" that keeps our bodymind's self-healing mechanisms functioning properly. Instead of resonating -- via the acupuncture meridian and dantian/chakra systems -- with the Earth's electromagnetic field, we begin to resonate with various man-made EMF and WiFi devices, which interrupts the natural intelligence of our body's own electrical system,thus causing dearrangement of various body functionss leading to diseases.