Meridians & Points
The theory of the body's twelve meridians, or channels, are the most important teachings in Traditional Chinese medicine. This theory explains the physiological functions & pathological changes in the human body and is used for both diagnosis & treatment in acupuncture. The body's meridian system includes twelve main meridians (six yin & six yang) & eight extraordinary meridians.
The four physiological functions of the meridians are:
1) the connection between the surface & the internal parts of the body, the connection between the upper and lower parts of the body & the binding of the six yin organs; Liver, Heart, Pericardium,
Spleen, Lung, Kidneys to their paired six yang organs; Gallbladder, Small Intestine, Large Intestine. Stomach, Bladder & San Jiao.
2) the meridians provide circulation of vital energy, blood and nutrition of the internal organs to maintain their functional activity.
3) they conduct informational impulses & signals to the internal organs
4) they regulate functional activity of the internal organs.
Acupuncture points or 'biologically active points', are special places of entry & exit on the meridians which are connected to the internal organs. Studies have shown that these points have specific features & conduction. They have a high electrical potential & because the skin has a high temperature, an elevated pain sensitivity & low electro-resistance, the points are empowered to increase oxygen absorption & elevate metabolic processes.
Qi & Blood Function
Qi & blood have different properties but work together to supply the organs & tissues with oxygen & nutrients. Their healthy function maintains the vitality of the body.
Blood is the carrier of oxygen & nutrients, Qi is the energy that activates it's circulation. Insufficient quantity or malfunction of blood circulation result in pathological conditions. Usually this is a result of Qi not flowing smoothly; without Qi the blood has no force. If Qi is compromised or blocked, blood circulation is slowed down in the channels or meridians & results in a disruption of internal organ function. Digestion, being one of the main functions,usually is the first pathological condition detected. Qi, being the energy of transformation in the body, is responsible for digestion, metabolism & elimination. Qi also protects the body from outside pathogens; cold, wind, damp, heat & dryness. If Qi is blocked & deficient, pathogens enter more readily. Qi also maintains homeostasis in the body, regulating temperature & holding the organs in place.
Pathological States of Qi
There are 4 common pathologies that arise from Qi disharmony or lack of freeflowing Qi :
1) Stagnation of Qi: Common causes include:
a) emotional components (anger, fear, depression, worry, grief, sadness, overthinking) b) accumulation of phlegm from greasy, fatty foods or foods that aren't digested properly (dairy & sugar foremost) c) invading pathogenic factors (wind, cold, damp, heat, dryness)
d) injuries or trauma.
2) Blockage of Qi: Qi can't move out of the channels or meridians possibly due to a high level of Qi stagnation, serious injury or an accumulation of pathogenic Qi. It can result in blood stasis causing fixed, stabbing pain.
3) Abnormal Elevation of Qi: The organs normally function in a healthy direction, Lung & Stomach working downward, Liver & Spleen working upwards. If Qi is compromised these functions can reverse, Lung Qi moving upward instead of downward resulting in cough & wheeze. Stomach Qi moving upwards results in indigestion, belching,hiccoughs or vomiting.
4) Subsidence of Qi: Spleen Qi ascends which helps keep the organs in place, if compromised, organ prolapse can occur (Stomach, Kidneys, Rectum & Uterus) which also can cause dizziness, blurred vision, weakness, diarrhea or hemorrhoids.
Organ Meridian Function
The first of the six yin organ meridians, the Liver, is responsible for promoting the free flow of Qi throughout the entire body. It detoxifies, purifies & balances all organ function. It opens into the eyes, stores blood, nourishes tendons, regulates the endocrine system (pancreas, ovaries, adrenals, pituitary, thyroid glands) as well as the body's emotional & mental functions.
The Heart governs blood & circulation in the vessels, nourishing the heart, lungs & eyes. It regulates the nervous system, quiets the mind, stabilizing emotions. It also controls heat in the body.
The Pericardium regulates vessels & blood circulation, maintains open flow of Qi in the chest, regulates Stomach & diaphragm function.
The Spleen regulates digestion & the assimilation of food & drink. It is responsible for the transportation of body fluids, nourishing the muscles & extremeties. It also tonifies Qi & Blood & is responsible for Qi's ascending function of holding the organs in place.
The Lung controls the circulation of Qi for the whole body through respiration, particularly the chest area (upper jiao). Pertaining to emotions it regulates the ascending & descending of Qi which helps the body move through grief, sadness or stress. It regulates the body's fluid circulation & also controls the amount & color of the urine.
The Kidneys are in charge of the genito-urinary system, they store the Jing or essence of the body, give women the ability to bear children & nourish the bones, brain, spinal cord, throat & tongue. They promote the function of the Spleen, Stomach, Liver, Lung & Heart.
The first of the six yang organs, the Gallbladder, stores bile, regulates Qi on the sides of the body, head & extremeties.It regulates the lymphatic system, strengthens the immune system & controls decsion making.
The Small Intestine receives digested food, absorbs nutrients & fluids & separates the 'clean' fluids from the 'turbid'. It regulates Qi to the face & head, distributes Qi along the neck, upper back & scapula, strengthens the body's defensive Qi.
The Large Intestine recieves the 'turbid' fluids, absorbs water & forms feces to be eliminated. It distributes Qi to the head, face, neck shoulder & arms clears heat from the blood & channels.
The Stomach transforms food & drink, 'rottens & ripens' it (ferments) to prepare it to be received by the Spleen. It distributes Qi to the face, stabilizing the sense organs & nourishes the four extremeties.
The Bladder stores fluid & removes urine. It circulates Qi to nourish the muscles & tendons & directs Qi to the brain to support its function & normalize emotions.
The San Jiao consists of the Upper, Middle & Lower burners of the body that coordinate the functions between the six yin & six yang organs harmoniously. It dominates the Qi for the whole body & has a regulatory function of the endocrine & lymphatic systems.