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The meridians and collaterals include the major trunks and minor branches. The meridian vessels have clearly defined pathways that penetrate deep into the body; the network vessels are their branches. The Gateway to Medicine states: “The meridians represent the main pathways and their ramifications are the collaterals.” There are two types of meridians: the twelve meridians and the eight extraordinary meridians.

Concerning the difference between the meridians and the extraordinary collaterals, The Salvation General Compendium states: There are ordinary and extraordinary meridians. The regular meridians are the twelve meridians. The eight extraordinary meridians are so named because they do not conform to the norm. Qi and blood constantly flow through the twelve meridians and, when abundant, overflow into the extraordinary meridians.

Let's discuss details of how each meridian works!  


Meridians System

meridianThe meridians and collaterals (finer branches) are pathways that carry Qi, blood, and body fluid around the body. They are the communication lines between all parts of the organism. The Canon of Difficult Medical Problems states: “The meridians move blood and Qi and ensure the free flow of Yin and Yang, so that the body is properly nourished.” The organs, orifices, skin and hair, sinews and flesh, bones, and other tissues all rely on communication through the meridians, forming an integrated, unified organism.


Lung meridian (hand greater Yin) Pathway

lung meridian

Known as the 'Prime Minister', the lungs control breath and energy and assist the 'King' heart with the circulation of blood. The Internal Medicine Classic states: 'Energy is the commander of blood; when energy moves, blood follows. Blood is the mother of energy; where blood goes, energy follows.' This intimate relationship between breath and pulse, blood and energy, is the basis of Chinese breathing exercises.


Large intestine meridian (hand Yang brightness) Pathway

Large intestine meridian

The large intestine is called the 'Minister of Transportation'. It controls the transformation of digestive wastes from liquid to solid state and transports the solids onwards and outwards for excretion through the rectum. It plays a major role in the balance and purity of bodily fluids and assists the lungs in controlling the skin's pores and perspiration.


Stomach meridian (foot Yang brightness) Pathway

stomach meridian

The stomach is called the 'Minister of the Mill' and is also known as the 'Sea of Nourishment'. Because it is responsible for providing the entire system with postnatal energy from the digestion of food and fluids, it is regarded as the 'Root of Postnatal Life'. In addition to digesting bulk foods and fluids and moving them onwards to the small intestine for extraction and assimilation of nutrients, the stomach also extracts pure postnatal energy from foods and fluids, and in coordination with spleen energy it transports this food energy through the meridian system to the lungs, where it combines with air energy from breathing. This is a function of the stomach not acknowledged in Western medicine, which focuses only on the biochemistry of digestion and does not recognize the bioenergetic aspect.


Spleen meridian (foot greater Yin) Pathway

spleen meridian

In Chinese medicine, the function of the spleen organ-energy system includes the pancreas. Called the 'Minister of the Granary', the spleen and pancreas control extraction and assimilation of nutrients from food and fluids by providing the digestive enzymes and energy required by the stomach and small intestine. They regulate the quantity and quality of blood in circulation and coordinate with the kidneys to control fluid balance throughout the system. Spleen energy commands extraction of energy from stomach to lungs, where it is blended with energy from air to form True Human Energy. The spleen directly influences and is reflected by the tone and condition of muscle tissue. Weak limbs and muscular atrophy are indications of deficient spleen energy.


Heart meridian (hand shao Yin) Pathway

heart meridian

The heart is called the 'King' of the organs. The Internal Medicine Classic states: 'The heart commands all of the organs and viscera, houses the spirit, and controls the emotions.' In Chinese, the word for 'heart' (xin) is also used to denote 'mind'. When the heart is strong and steady, it controls the emotions; when it is weak and wavering, the emotions rebel and prey upon the heart mind, which then loses its command over the body.


Small Intestine meridian (hand tai Yin) Pathway

Small Intestine MeridianKnown as the 'Minister of Reception', the small intestine receives partially digested food from the stomach and further refines it, separating 'the pure from the impure', then assimilating the purified nutrients and moving the impure wastes onwards to the large intestine for elimination. Associated with the heart by Fire energy, the small intestine controls the more basic emotions, as reflected in the Chinese term "duan chang" ('broken intestines'), which is equivalent to the English term 'broken heart'. Its energy meridian runs into the head, where it influences the function of the pituitary gland, the 'master gland' whose secretions regulate growth, metabolism, immunity, sexuality, and the entire endocrine system.


Urinary Bladder meridian (foot tai yang) Pathway

Urinary Bladder MeridianThe bladder is called the 'Minister of the Reservoir' and is responsible for storing and excreting the urinary waste fluids passed down from the kidneys. As an organ the bladder has only this function, but as an energy system the bladder is intimately related to the functions and balance of the autonomous nervous system. That's because the bladder energy meridian runs along the back of the body from head to heal, with two parallel branches flowing along each side of the spinal column. These four branches of the bladder meridian exert a direct influence on the sympathetic and parasympathetic trunks of the autonomous nervous system, whose condition of modern life, over activates the sympathetic system, causing tension and pain along the spine and its periphery.


Kidney meridian (foot shao yin) Pathway

Kidney MeridianKnown as the 'Minister of Power', the kidney is regarded as the body's most important reservoir of essential energy. The original prenatal energy (yuan chee) which forms the basis of life is stored in the kidney organ-energy system, which is why the kidneys are also known as the 'Root of Life'. In the Chinese view, the kidney organ system also includes the adrenal glands, which consist of the adrenal medulla and the adrenal cortex.


Pericardium meridian (hand jue yin) Pathway

Pericardium MeridianKnown as the 'King's Bodyguard', the pericardium is the heart's protective sack. Although it is not recognized as an organ in Western physiology, it is regarded in Chinese medicine as a Fire-energy organ whose special function is to protect the heart. Not only does the pericardium provide the heart with physical protection, its energy also protects the heart from damage and disruption by excessive emotional energies generated by the other organs, such as anger from the liver, fear from the kidneys, and grief from the lungs. In the Chinese system of health, extreme outbursts of the Seven Emotions are regarded as powerful disruptors of internal energy balance and major causes of disease. Without the pericardium to protect it, the heart would be subject to injury from the radical fluctuations in energy caused by every emotional up and down of the day.


San Jiao meridian (hand shao yang) Pathway

Sanjiao MeridianSan Jiao meridian also called Triple-burner or Triple Warmer meridian.

This organ-energy system, which is not recognized in Western physiology, is called the 'Minister of Dykes and Dredges' and is responsible for the movement and transformation of various solids and fluids throughout the system, as well as for the production and circulation of nourishing energy (ying chee) and protective energy (wei Qi). It is not a single self-contained organ, but rather a functional energy system involved in regulating the activities of other organs. It is composed of three parts, known as 'burners', each associated with one of the body's three main cavities: thorax, abdomen, and pelvis. An ancient Chinese medical text states: 'The Upper Burner controls intake, the Middle Burner controls transformation, the Lower Burner controls elimination.'


Gallbladder meridian (foot shao yang) Pathway

Gallbladder MeridianKnown as the 'Honorable Minister', the gall bladder is in charge of the 'Central Clearing Department'. It secretes the pure and potent bile fluids required to digest and metabolize fats and oils, and its energy provides muscular strength and vitality.


Liver meridian (foot jue yin) Pathway

Liver MeridianThe liver is called the 'General' or 'Chief of Staff' and is responsible for filtering, detoxifying, nourishing, replenishing, and storing blood. The liver stores large amounts of sugar in the form of glycogen, which it releases into the blood stream as glucose whenever the body requires extra infusions of metabolic energy. The liver receives all amino acids extracted from food by the small intestine and recombines them to synthesize the various forms of protein required for growth and repair of bodily tissues.




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