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The content of the theory of meridians and collaterals-Part One
Time:9/24/2008 5:47:23 PM
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[ PDF ] The content of the theory of meridians and collaterals

The meridians and collaterals are important components of the body. They are linear in form and subdivide into several levels of branches which are interconnected with each other and form into a network. The main function of the meridians and collaterals is to transport qi and blood, connect the viscera with other organs and combine the body into an organic whole.

The meridians are the main trunks in the system of the meridians and collaterals while the collaterals are the branches of the meridians. The collaterals stem from the meridians and fork into different levels of smaller and finer ones.

The content of the theory of meridians and collaterals

The system of meridians and collaterals is described in the following figure.
This section is devoted to the introduction of the twelve regular meridians and the eight extraordinary vessels. The running routes of the meridians and other concerned content are described in detail in the fascicle of Chinese Acupuncture and Moxibustion.

The twelve meridians

The names of the twelve meridians

The names of the twelve meridians are the lung meridian of hand-taiyin, the pericardium meridian of hand-jueyin, the heart meridian of hand-shaoyin, the large intestine meridian of hand-yangming, the triple energizer meridian of hand-shaoyang, the small intestine meridian of hand-taiyang, the spleen meridian of foot-taiyin, the liver meridian of foot-jueyin, the kidney meridian of foot-shaoyin, the stomach meridian of foot-yangming, the gall-bladder meridian of foot-shaoyang and the bladder meridian of foot-taiyang.

The names of the twelve meridians contain three parts: whether the part that certain meridian runs along the four limbs is the hand or foot; whether a certain meridian pertains to yin or yang; whether a certain meridian belongs to a zang-organ or a fu-organ. Take the lung meridian of hand-taiyin for example. It runs on the hand, pertains to taiyin and belongs to the lung.

There are two ways to abbreviate the names of the twelve meridians. One is to omit hand or foot and yin or yang. The other is to omit the names of the zang-organs and fu-organs. For example, the lung meridian of hand-taiyin can be abbreviated into "the lung meridian" or "hand-taiyin meridian".

Compared with the eight extraordinary vessels, the twelve meridians is also called "the twelve regular meridians".

The twelve meridians can be divided into four groups. The hand-taiyin meridian, the hand-jueyin meridian and the hand-shaoyin meridian are collectively called "three yin meridians of the hand" ; the hand-yang-ming meridian,  the hand-shaoyang meridian and the hand-taiyang meridian are collectively called "three yang meridians of the hand"; foot-taiyin meridian, foot-jueyin meridian and foot-shaoyin meridian are collectively called " three yin meridians of the foot"; foot-yangrning meridian, foot-shaoyang meridian and foot-taiyang meridian are collectively called " three yang meridians of the foot".

The flowing and infusing order of the twelve meridians

The main function of the twelve meridians is to transport qi and blood. Qi and blood flowing in the meridians follow certain directions. For example, qi and blood in the lung meridian start to flow from the lung, emerging the surface of the body from the lateral side of the chest and moving downward to the tip of the thumb along the medial side of the upper limbs. When qi and blood flow to the end along a certain meridian, they enter another meridian and continue their flow. Such a continuous flow of qi and blood in the meridians is called "flowing and infusing".
Qi and blood in the twelve meridians follow a certain order to flow and infuse. When they have flown and infused for one cycle in the twelve meridians, they return to the original meridian and start another cycle of flowing and infusing. The flowing and infusing order is demonstrated in the following figure:

The distribution of the twelve meridians

The distribution of the twelve meridians follows a certain rule. The rule varies according to the miming mutes of the meridians.

Head and face:The hand-yangming meridian and foot-yangming meridian run over the face and the forehead; the hand-shaoyang meridian and foot-shaoyang meridian run along the lateral sides of the head; the foot-taiyang meridian runs over the vertex and the nape; the hand-taiyang meridian runs over the cheeks.

The four limbs.The three yin meridians of the hand and the three yang meridians of the hand run along the upper limbs; the three yin meridians of the foot and the three yang meridians of the foot run along the lower limbs. The yin meridians run along the medial side of the four limbs while the yang meridians run along the lateral side of the four limbs.

The distributing order of the yang meridians is like this. the yangming meridians are distributed over the anterior border (lateral side of the thumb), the taiyang meridians are distributed over the posterior border (the lateral side of the small finger), and the shaoyang meridians are distributed along the midline. The distributing order of the yin meridians is like this., the taiyin meridians are distributed over the anterior border, the shaoyin meridians are distributed over the posterior border and the jueyin meridians are distributed along the midline. Over the lower part of the lower limbs, the jueyin meridians are distributed over the anterior border, the taiyin meridians are distributed along the midline. The two meridians cross about eight cun above the tip of internal malleolus, then the taiyin meridian runs to the anterior border and the jueyin meridian runs to the midline.

The trunk: The three yang meridians of the hand run over the scapula; among the three yang meridians of the foot, the yangming meridian runs over the front (the chest and abdomen), the taiyang meridian runs along the back and the shaoyang meridian runs along the side of the body; the thre

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