Although undetectable to the naked eye, the Meridians of the body are essential to our daily health and well-being. Simply, they can be described as a system of energy pathways that flow throughout the body, delivering the essential energy, or chi as it’s often referred to, to every single one of our organs. Meridians are responsible for all of the body’s major organ systems including nervous, circulatory, immune, respiratory, skeletal, muscular and digestive. Sometimes, energy blockages or imbalances of chi in the body can occur, which if left untreated has the potential to lead to a variety of unpleasant symptoms – the nature of which depends on where the blockage is located. Through the flow of energy, the meridians help to stabilise and rebalance the body’s chi, remove energetic blocks and regulate the metabolism, resulting in all-round good health. Sometimes, to help this natural process along, certain points on the meridians can be stimulated with fine metal needles, through the use of acupuncture. This allows fresh chi to flow through the energy channels, clearing any blockages and rebalancing your system.
Deriving from China in 2698 BC, the Meridian System is made up of energy pathways/channels. The entrance to each of these channels is known as an ‘acupuncture point’. If blockages occur in the meridians, or the body’s natural chi becomes unbalanced, the acupuncture points can be stimulated to help the energy flow smoothly, once more. Restoring the proper flow of chi results in the perfect nourishment of the organs and tissue – something that everybody should strive to have. The practice of acupuncture is thought to date back over 8000 years, but back then it was incredibly different to the renowned practice around today. First becoming apparent in the stone age, it was documented that knives and needles used for medical procedures were carved from stone, bone and bamboo, with some of these instruments still being found in Chinese ruins to this day. It believed that these instruments were used to perform basic types of acupuncture on the body’s Meridians, with the first documentation of this being published in a book called ‘The Yellow Emperor’s Classic of Internal Medicine’.
During the Warring States Era, metal needles replaced those made from stone, bone and bamboo. Unlike the needles the used in the Chinese treatment today, back then they were made out of expensive and sought after materials such as gold and silver, meaning that only the rich had access to the ancient form of acupuncture. As the years progressed, acupuncture became much more mainstream, with the alternative therapy being seen as a suitable form of modern medicine. Acupuncture training colleges started to appear, and education on the topic became an integral part of the Imperial Medical Bureau. Today, acupuncture continues to play an important role in not just alternative healing therapies, but in everyday modern medicine, too.
Although there is an impressive total of over 600 Meridian points used in acupuncture today, there are 12 key meridians that link directly to your main organs. With each one linking to a specific part of the body, they play a crucial role in your overall health and well-being, so making sure that they are functioning correctly is important. Below, we explore the main 12 throughout the human body:
Responsible for respiration in the body, an imbalance of the lung meridian can potentially lead to symptoms such as excessive perspiration and various skin conditions, as well as leaving the body open to infections, too.
The function of the large intestine is to extract water from waste material, before expelling it from the body. If you are experiencing unexplained stomach cramps, you may have an energy blockage in the large intestine. Emotionally, this can lead to one holding onto their problems and then finding it hard to let go.
Distributing nutrients all over the body, the spleen plays a key role in your muscle tone, digestion and good flow around the body. If you develop an energetic imbalance in the spleen, you may experience symptoms such as diarrhea, constipation, low appetite and general fatigue.
With the main responsibility of the stomach being to digest food, it’s well known that most digestive issues can be traced back to the stomach. A blockage or imbalance in the stomach meridian can lead to feelings of anxiety, nervousness and sometimes, lack of acceptance.
The function of the heart is to distribute blood around the body. If you are experiencing symptoms such as chest pains, shortness of breath, dizziness and insomnia, you may have an imbalance in your heart meridian.
Responsible for distributing foods nutrients all around the body, the small intestine plays an important role in your digestive system. Symptoms such a poor circulation, weakness in the muscles and poor digestion, you may have a blockage in your small intestine meridian.
The function of the bladder is to remove liquid waste from the body. A blockage in the bladder meridian may result in headaches, back pain, and a variety of different urinary diseases. On an emotional level, an imbalance in this meridian can cause feelings of anger and irritability.
The kidneys support the growth and development of the reproductive system, as well as being responsible for the production of bone marrow and blood. Consequently, an imbalance in the kidney Meridan could lead to symptoms such as a backache, genital-urinary disorders and asthma.
The area surrounding the heart is known as the pericardium. Instead of being responsible for one particular organ, this meridian removes excess energy from around the heart.
The function of the triple warmer meridian is to control the body as a whole. Particularly it controls metabolism, moisture balance and body temperature. As the triple warmer is responsible for so many things, and imbalance within the body can be linked back to the meridian.
With the job of storing energy and regulating the flow of chi throughout the body, an imbalance in the liver meridian can cause symptoms such as dry skin, blurred vision, stiff joints and headaches.
The function of the gallbladder is to store and expel bile produced by the liver. An imbalance or blockage in this area can lead to bloating, liver pains, and a yellow tone to the skin and urine.
Although we cannot see the existence of meridians, keeping the body’s energy free flowing and balanced is incredibly beneficial to our overall health. If you suspect a blockage or unbalance in your body, try visiting a certified acupuncturist, or even just massaging some of the main acupuncture points in the comfort of your own home can work wonders. Participating in a light form of exercise is a great way to keep your body’s meridians flowing freely, so to avoid splashing on regular acupuncture treatment, pick up some inexpensive yoga wear and strive to practice a couple of key postures each day.