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WHAT ARE MERIDIANS?

The recognition of the meridian system is an important part of TCM. The meridian system is composed of mainly 12 regular meridians and two extra meridians (the governor vessel and the conception vessel), forming the 14 general meridians. In the meridian system, 12 regular meridians correspond to 12 major internal organs and functions, and are named according to the organs they pertain. For example, the meridian pertaining to the lung is termed Lung meridian (LU).

The Meridians

Codes

Number of Acupoints

Lung meridian

LU

11

Heart meridian

HT

9

Pericardium meridian

PC

9

Large Intestine meridian

LI

20

Small Intestine meridian

SI

19

Triple Energizer meridian

TE

23

Spleen meridian

SP

21

Kidney meridian

KI

27

Liver meridian

LR

14

Stomach meridian 

ST

45

Bladder meridian 

BL

67

Gallbladder meridian

GB

44

Governor vessel

GV

28

Conception vessel

CV

24

The meridian pertaining to the stomach is Stomach meridian (ST). Each of the 14 general meridians has its own acupoints distributed along their specific running courses on the body surface.

Most researchers now believe that the meridians are merely functional phenomena based on reflex arcs, because they have no specific morphological structure besides the tissues known by anatomy. In other words, the meridians are actually physiologically connecting pathways with reciprocal actions between different parts of the body. The science behind the meridians may be explained by theories of referred pain known in the modern medicine. For example, it is well-known that the referred pain from angina pectoris can emerge at the inner side of the left forearm, which is consistent with the classical running course of Heart meridian (HT) and the Pericardium meridian (PC). Conversely, puncturing the points of these meridians, such as PC6 (Neiguan), could relieve the referred pain and improve the EKG results.  This indicates that the meridian system is a bi-directional network that connects internal organs and functions to the body surface as recognized by TCM.

      The generation of referred pain has been considered  to the convergence or facilitation of afferent nerve fibers from both the diseased viscera (e.g. heart) and referred somatic areas (e.g. PC6) that enter the spinal cord through the same dorsal roots. The same reason can be applied to the effects of puncturing PC6 on the heart.