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Traveling the Energetic Highway: What Are Meridians?

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) is a system that seems quite foreign to many in the Western world.  However, this medical system has been around for over 3,500 years; in comparison to the Western medical system, which has been around only since the 19th century.  One of the concepts of TCM is that of meridians or energetic pathways.  This article will explore this concept a little more deeply.

What is a meridian?  This is something that every acupuncture student asks when they begin their training.  The simplest definition is that a meridian is an energetic highway in the human body.  Meridians allow for the flow of energy, known as qi (pronounced “chee”), to circulate throughout the body.  Meridians exist in corresponding pairs and each meridian has multiple acupuncture points along the pathway.  While it’s tempting to think of meridians in the body the same way as we think of the circulatory system, this would be incorrect.  According to TCM, the meridian pathways are responsible for the “distribution” of various substances throughout the body, but physically, meridians have yet to be identified.  Therefore, it’s more logical to view the meridian system as an energetic distribution network.

All together there are fourteen main meridians throughout the body.  One that runs up the center of the body on the front, another that runs along the spine, and the other 12 run from head to toe along the rest of the body.  Each limb is traversed by six channels, three that are considered yin in nature and three that are considered yang in nature.  Yin channels are located on the inside surfaces of the extremities and the yang channels are located on the outside surfaces.  Each meridian is a yin-yang pair, meaning that each yin organ (lung, heart, kidney, liver, spleen) is paired with its corresponding yang organ (large intestine, stomach, small intestine, bladder, gallbladder).  In every living thing, there is yin and yang.  Yin corresponds to water, darkness and cold; while yang corresponds to fire, daylight and heat.  For the body to function properly, there must be balance between yin and yang; in addition, qi and blood must be of good quality and flow unobstructed.      

When qi and blood flow freely, the body can remain healthy.  However, due to causes such as stress, improper diet or lack of physical activity, the body’s meridians can become clogged or stagnant.  When a blockage occurs along the meridians, illness can take hold.  Pain is also a common symptom of qi/blood obstruction..

Acupuncture/acupressure, herbs and lifestyle modifications are wonderful ways to unblock the meridians.  Herbal formulas, acu-points, exercise, proper dietary habits and energy cultivation all work in conjunction to keep the body-mind-spirit aligned and functioning properly.  To get yourself more in balance, book an appointment to see us either online or in person.  Our mission is to help you live your best life possible!

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