So, you heard us talk to you about your meridians but now you’re wondering what it all means. What are meridians? How do we know about them? What is qi? What do the acupuncture points do?
Don’t worry, I’m here to answer all your questions about meridian theory. Something not covered? Feel free to ask us in your next session or send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org!
What are the meridians?
The meridian system, know as the Jing-Luo, is made up of routes and networks within the body that circulate qi and blood. It is a complex system similar to arteries and veins in that they connect all parts of the body with the rest of the body. There are 12 regular meridians (one for each main organ) which are the channels the acupoints are located on, 8 extra meridians (connecting and promoting correct function of the 12 organs), a number of smaller collateral meridians as well as various muscle and cutaneous regions which also host qi.
What is qi?
Qi is often translated to ‘energy’ or ‘life-essence’. These translations are as close as we can get for a singular word/phrase replacement. The concept of qi is more complex than that and there are many different types of qi but basically, everything in the universe is a result of the movements and changes of qi.
The qi in our bodies has many different functions, the main ones are; moving the blood, protecting us from external pathogens, making us grow and develop, and keeping our organs warm so they can perform their own functions.
Where are the meridians?
The 12 regular meridians are laid out in a full circuit throughout the body and qi always travels in one direction through them in a particular order: Lung Large Intestine Stomach Spleen Heart Small Intestine Bladder Kidney Pericardium San Jiao Gallbladder Liver Lung again.
The lung meridian starts in the middle jiao where it connects with the large intestine and then the lungs (these organs are closely related in Chinese medicine). The meridian continues into the axillary region (arm pit) and travels down the medial part of the arm to the radial side of the thumb nail (Acupoint LU 11)
The large intestine meridian starts in the radial side of the index fingernail and travels up the radial aspect of the arm onto the outer portion of the upper arm before continuing over the shoulder, up the neck and over the upper lip to the opposite side of the nose, terminating at the acupoint LI 20 which is located at the ala nasi of the nose.
The stomach meridian starts at the ala nasi of the nose and travels up the bridge of the nose to the inner canthus of the eye. It travels under the eye and then around the mouth before going up to the forehead and hairline. It then travels back down, into the neck and down the chest past the nipple. It continues down the abdomen before extending to the outer aspect of the thigh. From here it travels down the lateral aspect of the leg until it terminates at ST 45 found on the lateral side if the tip of the second toe.
SP 1 is found on the medial side of the big toe and marks the start of the spleen meridian. From there it travels up the medial aspect of the leg and into the abdomen where it connects with the spleen itself. It travels through the chest and terminates in the mouth (Don’t worry! We won’t be needling in there!).
The heart meridian begins in the heart, passes through the lung and emerges at HT 1 found in the axilla. From the axilla it travels down the posteromedial border of the biceps and continues down the ulnar side of the arm to the palm. Once it reaches the palm the heart meridian travels straight up into the little finger and terminates at the tip of the little finger on the radial side (acupoint HT 9).
The acupoint SI 1 marks the start of the small intestine meridian and is found at the tip of the little finger on the ulnar side. The small intestine meridian travels along the dorsum of the hand and up the ulnar side of the arm into the shoulder joint. Multiple small intestine points are found around the back of the shoulder as the meridian does a zig-zag before continuing up the neck and into the face ending at the inner canthus of the eye.
This (the inner canthus) is where the bladder meridian begins. From the inner canthus it traves up to the forehead and over the head before continuing down the neck. The bladder meridian then travels down the back a set distance from the spine. After passing through the buttocks, the bladder meridian continues down to the back of the knee (acupoint BL 40). A second branch starts in the neck and travels down the back twice as far from the spine as the first branch. This branch meets the forst at BL 40 and then continues down the back of the leg before diverting to the lateral part of the foot, around the lateral malleolus and finally terminating at the lateral side of the small toe (acupoint BL 67).
The Kidney meridian joins with the bladder meridian at BL 67 but first emerges at the acupoint KI 1 which is found on the sole of the foot. The kidney meridian then travels along the medial side of the foot and loops around the medial malleolus. It travels up the medial aspect of the leg and into the thigh before travelling to the coccyx and connecting internally to the kidney and bladder. It then remerges close to the midline of the abdomen and travels up into the chest, the final acupoint being KI 27 found just under the clavicle.
The pericardium meridian starts in the chest and connects the pericardium to the diaphragm. It surfaces at PC 1 which is found in the fourth intercostal space. It enters the axilla before continuing down the medial aspect of the arm and through the cubital crease to the ulnar side of the forearm. The pericardium meridian then travels through the palm before terminating at the tip of the middle finger (acupoint PC 9).
The san jiao (or triple energiser) meridian starts at the ulnar side of the ring finger, travels down the dorsal aspect of the hand (in between the fourth and fifth metacarpal bones). It enters the wrist and travels up the dorsal aspect of the forearm between the ulnar and radius. It continues up the upper arm and into the shoulder before traveling up the neck and around the back of the ear before terminating at the lateral end of the eyebrow (acupoint SJ 23).
The outer canthus of the eye (acupoint GB 1) marks the start of the gallbladder meridian. From there it travels to the intertragic notch and in front of the ear to the forehead and hairline. It travels back towards the ear then up towards the top of the head before continuing down to the neck and across the top of the shoulders. From there it travels down to the chest, along the side of the abdomen and hip. It continues down the lateral aspect of the thigh, leg and foot before terminating at acupoint GB 44 (found at the lateral side of the fourth toe).
The liver meridian starts at LR 1 on the lateral side of the big toe. It travels in between the first and second metatarsal bones, along the top of the foot, passes in front of the medial malleolus and up the medial aspect of the leg. It continues up the inner thigh to the groin and passes internally to the liver and gallbladder before emerging near at the end of the free rib. It travels externally to the last acupoint (LR 14) in the chest and from there continues internally to the top of the head.
As you can see, the meridians carry your qi all over your body and acupoints can be found in lots of different places and be related to different organs you might not originally expect.
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Thanks for reading,
<3 Dr Eve (TCM)