The Meridian System
Qi works in a similar way to the flow of water in nature. By flowing from a high to a low concentration, it follows the body's landscape and gathers in a meridian. Thus, meridians provide a natural pathway for the flow of Qi and supply a constant source of energy to different parts of the body in the same way a river supplies water to its surrounding.
If in the natural world there is a lack of water the ecosystem's balance and harmony are disturbed making plants and animals unable to survive. Similarly, if the Meridian System is blocked, the supply of Qi to different parts of the body will be interrupted, leading to organ disharmony and disease even if the affected area is far away from the original blockage.
Meridians work like a network system, transporting and distributing Qi, blood and body fluids. They link up organs, limbs, joints, bones, tendons, tissues and skin, and provide communication between the body's interior and exterior.
Through a healthy Meridian System, Qi and blood successfully warm and nourish different organs and tissues, and maintain normal metabolic activities. Meridians are essential in supporting the flow of nutritive Qi inside the blood vessels and the flow of protective Qi around them. In addition, they strengthen the body's immunity, protect against external pernicious influences (anything evil that causes disease) and assist in regulating yin and yang.
There are 12 main meridians, six of which are yin and six are yang and numerous minor ones, which form a network of energy channels throughout the body. Each meridian is related to, and named after, an organ or function, the main ones are: the lungs, kidneys, gallbladder, stomach, spleen, heart, small intestine, large intestine, gall bladder, urinary bladder, three cavites - san jiao (three heater) and pericardium (heart protector/ or circulation sex meridian).
There are also 8 extraordinary channels that are considered to be reservoirs supplying Qi and blood to the twelve regular channels. These are believed to have a strong connection to the kidneys. Along these meridians are more than 400 acupuncture points, classified by the World Health Organization. (There may be as many as 2000 points in use for different treatments.) These are listed by name, number and the meridian to which they belong.
When Qi flows freely through the meridians, the body is balanced and healthy, but if the energy becomes blocked, stagnated or weakened, it can result in physical, mental or emotional health problems. An imbalance in a person's body can result from inappropriate emotional responses such as: excess anger, over-excitement, self-pity, deep grief and fear.
Environmental factors such as cold, damp/humidity, wind, dryness, and heat can also cause imbalance, as well as wrong diet, too much sex, overwork and too much exercise.
In order to restore balance and harmony, it is necessary to resume the optimal flow of Qi. The harmony of the Meridian System is restored in our bodies by stimulating particular acupuncture points. In this way, the flow of Qi is regulated and balanced. Acupuncturists stimulate specific points to restore balance. In this way, acupuncture can effectively rebalance the energy system and improve health or prevent the development of disease.