If you are just beginning to look into acupuncture, you will be exposed to language you probably aren’t familiar with. One of the first phrases you might come across is the term “meridian.” Meridians are defined as the invisible channels (my preferred translation is “channels” rather than “meridians”) through which qi (sometimes translated as “energy”) circulates throughout the body. The acupuncture points are the locations where the qi of the channels rises close to the surface of the body.
What acupuncture seeks to do is restore the balance of energy and the appropriate energy flow to these meridians which allows the body to function normally and return to health more naturally. Meridians exist in corresponding pairs and each meridian has multiple acupuncture points along the channels.
In total, it is generally understood that there are fourteen main meridians throughout the body. There is a meridian that runs up the center of the body on the front and another that runs along the spine. The other 12 meridians run from head to toe along the rest of the body. Each limb is traversed by six channels, three yin and three yang in nature. Yin channels are located on the inside surfaces and the yang channels are located on the outside surfaces. Each yin organ (lung, heart, kidney, liver, spleen) is paired with its corresponding yang organ (large intestine, stomach, small intestine, bladder, and gallbladder). In order for the body to function properly, there must be balance between the yin and yang.
Now that we have defined “qi” as energy and the meridians as essentially the highway on which qi travels, what is this concept of yin and yang in acupuncture? There is a basic understanding in Western culture as to the meaning of yin and yang but the give and take of yin and yang in the human body is not as easily understood. This concept is actually a cornerstone in traditional acupuncture and Chinese medicine. In a nutshell, it is believed that every entity in the universe has both yin and yang qualities; both are necessary and you can’t have one without the other. Yin and yang are never static and always fluctuating. The yin/yang symbol provides a visual example of the balancing act that goes on constantly in our bodies.
When your acupuncturist places a needle to stimulate a certain acupuncture point along the meridian, this helps to restore the normal balance and flow of qi (or energy) so your organs and bodily systems can work together in harmony as intended. This sets the stage for the body to repair itself and maintain overall health and wellness. The goal is typically threefold: relieve any pain or other symptoms, strengthen the immune system, and balance the organ functions with each other for optimum health.
As acupuncturists and practitioners of Chinese Medicine, don’t be afraid to ask us any questions if you don’t fully understand some of the terminology. The more you know about this ancient form of medicine, the better you’ll understand how it can impact your health for the better. Give us a call today if you are interested in giving acupuncture a try or have more questions about how acupuncture can benefit you and your health care goals.