What are the Meridians of the Body? How to Tap Them

Have you ever heard of meridians, but wondered what these mysterious pathways actually are? You might have heard about them in regards to Eastern medicine, alternative therapies, and energy healing. Meridians are the energy channels that run throughout your body – and if you learn how to tap into their power with positive intention, they can do wonderful things for your overall health! In this blog post we will explore what exactly the meridian system is, how it works within our bodies, and how to begin working with it on a daily basis.  

What Are Meridians?

Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) is a system that many Westerners find rather foreign. However, this medical system has existed for almost 3,500 years, whereas the Western medical system has only existed since the nineteenth century. TCM is based on the concept of meridians or energetic pathways. This post will delve a little deeper into this subject.

What exactly is a meridian? This is a question asked by every acupuncture student at the beginning of their studies. A meridian's simplest definition is an energetic highway in the human body. Meridians enable the circulation of energy known as Qi (pronounced "chee") throughout the body. Meridians appear in pairs, and each meridian contains a number of acupuncture sites along its journey.

Although it is easy to compare the meridians in the body to the circulatory system, this would be wrong. According to TCM, the meridians are responsible for the "distribution" of chemicals throughout the body, however meridians have yet to be discovered on a physical level. Therefore, it makes more sense to conceptualize the meridian system as a network for the diffusion of energy.

The body has a total of fourteen main meridians. There is one that traverses the front of the body, another that follows the spine, and another dozen that extend from the head to the toes. There are six channels in each limb; three are considered yin and three are considered yang. There are yin channels on the interior and yang channels on the exterior. Because of the yin-yang nature of each meridian, the yin organs (the lungs, heart, kidneys, liver, and spleen) each have a yang counterpart (large intestine, stomach, small intestine, bladder, gallbladder). All living things have both yin and yang qualities. Water, gloom, and chilliness are all connected with yin, while fire, light, and warmth are all related with yang. The balance of yin and yang is essential to the body's proper functioning.

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8 Remarkable Vessels

In addition to the principal meridians, there are additional meridians known as "Extraordinary" meridians that are unrelated to the major organ systems. These meridians have extremely particular purposes. They serve as stores of Qi and blood. They circulate "substances" throughout the body due to their close relationship with the kidneys. They aid in the circulation of Wei Qi, which functions as the immune system.

Penetrating Vessel– chōng mài: The Penetrating Vessel is a crucial energy conduit that runs vertically through the body's midsection. It is responsible for Qi (vital energy) and blood circulation throughout the entire body. According to traditional Chinese medicine, blockages or imbalances in the Chong Mai can result in a variety of physical and mental symptoms, including weariness, depression, and sexual dysfunction.

  • Conception Vessel– rèn mài: The Conception Vessel is an additional vital energy channel that runs along the frontal axis of the body. It regulates the flow of Qi and blood in the abdomen and is linked to the reproductive and digestive systems' health. According to traditional Chinese medicine, Ren Mai imbalances can cause infertility, digestive issues, and menstrual abnormalities.
  • Governing Vessel– dū mài: The Governing Vessel is a significant energy channel that runs up the spine, from the sacrum to the top of the head. It regulates the flow of Qi throughout the entire body and is connected to the health of the spine, spinal cord, and brain. In traditional Chinese medicine, Du Mai imbalances can result in back discomfort, neck pain, and headaches, among other ailments.
  • Girdle Vessel– dài mài: The Girdle Vessel is a large energy channel that runs down the hips and controls the circulation of Qi and blood throughout the body. In traditional Chinese medicine, Dai Mai imbalances can result in problems such as menstruation abnormalities, lower back pain, and hip pain.
  • Yin linking vessel– yīn wéi mài: The Yin Linking Vessel is a small energy channel that extends from the chest to the legs and controls the flow of Qi and blood in the belly and legs. In traditional Chinese medicine, Yin Wei Mai imbalances can cause weariness, abdominal ache, and leg pain.
  • Yin Heel Vessel– yīn qiāo mài: The Yin Heel Vessel is a small energy channel that regulates the flow of Qi and blood in the lower legs and foot. In traditional Chinese medicine, Yin Qiao Mai imbalances can lead to leg, ankle, and foot pain.
  • Yang Heel Vessel– yáng qiāo mài: The Yang Heel Vessel is a small energy channel that runs along the outside aspect of the legs and regulates the circulation of Qi and blood in the lower legs and foot. In traditional Chinese medicine, abnormalities in the Yang Qiao Mai can result in leg, ankle, and foot pain.
  • Yang linking vessel– yáng wéi mài: The Yang Linking Vessel is a small energy channel that connects the arms to the legs and controls the flow of Qi and blood in the arms and legs. In traditional Chinese medicine, abnormalities in the Yang Wei Mai can cause arm ache, leg discomfort, and weariness.

When Qi is free to circulate, the body is healthy. However, external factors such as stress can cause the body's meridians to become clogged or stagnant. When there is a blockage along the meridians, sickness might manifest.

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How To Tap Them

Acupuncture is an excellent method for unclogging the meridians. Acupuncture sites, herbal formulae, exercise, and healthy eating habits all work together to maintain the body's optimum alignment and function.

How Scientists View Meridians

A debate exists between scientists about whether or not the meridian theory is valid. Meridians are pathways through which Qi is thought to travel in the body, but some scientists and doctors argue that this is a myth. They contend that the concept of meridians, upon which acupuncture is based, is unfounded because there is no evidence of a physical structure corresponding to the meridians, and that the effects attributed to acupuncture can be explained by placebo effects, neurophysiological mechanisms, and other physiological responses to needling. On the other hand, some argue that the meridian notion is supported by data and that further study is required to fully grasp the mechanisms at work in acupuncture and meridian theory. In the end, the medical community is divided over what the science says about the meridian idea.

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Understanding the Meridians of the Body

Though alternative health practices like acupuncture are often looked at with skepticism, there is a reason that these traditions have been around for centuries. Now that you know more about the meridians of the body and how to tap them, perhaps you will be able to find some relief from your ailments naturally. If you found this information helpful and would like to learn more about other natural methods of relaxation and self-care, please checkout our website Shot of Joy. At Shot of Joy, we specialize in products like Kratom and Kava that can help you mellow out after a long day or week. Browse our selection today and see what speaks to you!

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