In traditional Chinese medicine, the energy that is responsible for our survival as well as the functioning of all our organs flows in definite conduits that are called 'ching' and is manifested by a symbol that represents the warp used in weaving. In English, the channels through which the energy circulates are known as meridians - a term that has its origin in geography and points to the imaginary lines that link at various points in a series. This is an appropriate term because, like in the instance of meridians in geography, the meridians in acupuncture are not present in the form of continuous lines, but instead in a sequence of points that follow patterns similar to lines.
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In medicine, there are as many as 12 presumed standard meridians that possess matching branches on each half of the two sides of our body. For instance, the meridian that relates to the heart comprises of a sequence of points that have their origin on the chest and pass laterally in the inner side of the arm before ending at the tip of the little finger. These points are located on the skin, especially on the inner side of the arm; show a remarkably augmented sensitivity when ever your heart is agitated naturally or physically.
Incidentally, the Western tradition of medicine also recognizes the ten standard meridians those that have been identified to be related to the structural organs by the traditional Chinese medicine. These structural organs comprise the heart (H), lungs (L), stomach (S), large intestine (LI), small intestine (SI), spleen-pancreas (SP), bladder (B), gall bladder (GB), liver (Li) and the kidneys (K). In addition, there are two other meridians - the triple heater (TH) and the heart constrictor (HC), which have relation with the physical activities, instead of being related to any particular organ of our body.
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It may be noted here that the triple heater (TH) regulates the energy used for respiration, the energy required for sex drive as well as the energy supplied to the uro-genital organs. On the other hand, the heart constrictor (HC) works to regulate the blood vessels to the extent of the tiny filtering parts of the kidneys. The Chinese believe that the actions of the heart constrictor have a direct impact on the sexual vitality. It is worth mentioning here that any kind of harm to the circulation of blood, irrespective of how insignificant it may be, has an adverse influence on the sexual energy. Moreover, the crucial functioning of the kidneys in filtering the blood denotes that to a great extent the value of sexual energy is subject to the efficiency of their action.
The above mentioned 12 bilateral meridians are said to be normal, as energy constantly flows through them in a definite direction as well as succession, which makes up the general energy flow system of our body.
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In addition to these twelve regular meridians, there are two more meridians, which are sometimes categorized in the list of regular meridians and at other times termed as 'extraordinary meridians'. In Chinese medicine, these two additional meridians are called jen-mo (JM) and tu-mo (TM). The jen-mo is basically a meridian of notion - an independent meridian located on the frontal midline of our body, while tu-mo, which is also known as the governor meridian, is another independent meridian located on the rear midline of our body. Similar to the meridians of the heart constrictor (HC) and the triple heater (TH), these two meridians (jen-mo and tu-mo) are not specifically related to any organ or structure of the body. Nevertheless, different from the 12 bilateral meridians, they do not form a fundamental part of the body's general energy circulation system. However, they are linked to the general energy- circulatory system of the body in the form of secondary channels. Nonetheless, like in the instance of the bilateral meridians, energy flows in these meridians all the time and in a prearranged direction.
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In addition, Chinese medical practitioners have identified six other extraordinary meridians, which include tae-mo, yin-tsiao-mo, yang-oe, yin-oe, tchrong-mo and yang-tsiao-mo. These additional six extraordinary meridians are also known as 'diversionary channels' and energy circulates through them only when bio-chemical alterations result in surplus energy, which cannot be handled by the regular meridians. Moreover, these extraordinary meridians do not have their exclusive points and flow by means of specific points present on the regular meridians. In addition, energy also does not circulate through these additional six extraordinary meridians in a steady and constant form. Each of these extraordinary meridians also has just a solitary command point, known as the master point. They are dissimilar from the regular meridians in this aspect too, each regular meridian possesses 10 command points.
For the uninitiated, a command point is basically a point for regulating the flow of energy through any meridian and, hence, forms a prominent point in acupuncture therapy. However, in theory, it is possible to treat any point on the meridians. In other words, the command point may be evaluated with the central lock of any irrigation system that regulates the flow of entire water in the core canal as well as its tributaries. In this case, the other points on the meridian may be compared to the locks of the less important canals, which are usually opened to allow additional water to flow to the fields that are especially parched.
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The first two extraordinary meridians jen-mo (JM) and tu-mo (TM) are similar to the additional six extraordinary meridians, as all of them have just one such master command point each. As jen-mo and tu-mo possess the attributes of regular as well as extraordinary meridians, at times they form a part of one group (regular), on other occasions they belong to the other group (extraordinary), subject to the attributes of these meridians that are being taken into account.
It may be noted that apart from the points located on the meridians, the skin has several other acupuncture points. In fact, scientists have now proved the existence of several additional effectual acupuncture points, apart from those identified on the meridians and they are known as 'extraordinary points outside the meridians'. Although these points have not been found to be related to any particular organ or system till now, there are some hints that they may in one way or another be related to the endocrine system. Currently, scientists are investigating into such suggestions.
Experts who have been properly trained are able to medically examine organs by touching these 'extraordinary points beyond the meridians'. In addition, these points are also detectable electrically. They always turn out to be receptive when there is any disturbance in the functioning of the organ. Western medicine is familiar with many of the acupuncture points, for instance, the McBurney's point located on the abdomen is used while diagnosing appendicitis. It may be noted that the occurrence of angina pectoris results in a severe pain shooting down the inner side of the arm right to the little finger - this pain actually follows the precise channel related to the heart meridian.
Every one of the 12 bilateral meridians possesses a definite number of acupuncture points that may vary from nine points on the heart (H) as well as the heart constrictor (HC) meridian to as many as 67 on the bladder (B) meridian. Five of these points on every meridian are known as element point owing to the fact that they are related to the five elements - earth, fire, water, metal and wood. Besides, in acupuncture, these element points are used according to the laws pertaining to the five elements. Simulating these five element points as well as additional command points controls the circulation of energy through the meridians.
Besides these five element points, another five acupuncture points are of the same importance on all these meridians and they include the origin; mo, or alarm; iu, or assentiment; lo, or passage; and gueki points. Together, these 10 acupuncture points make up the entire command points of every bilateral meridian. The origin point and the earth point are identical in several meridians. And this is, for instance, the reason why the heart meridian can have as many as 10 acupuncture points, but still just have a total of nine separate points.
As the name implies, the original acupuncture point is basically the point where the meridian has its origin. (It may be noted that the end of any meridian is considered to be its original point and its terminus is established depending on the energy flow through the meridian - which can be any, ascending or descending.) The original point of a meridian also helps to strengthen the other points located on the same meridian. Whenever the flow of energy through any meridian is at a low level, acupuncturists prick the original point by gently stimulating it (also called tonification). On the other hand, if too much energy is flowing through a particular meridian, acupuncturists insert a needle at the original point with a view to thin out the flow of energy (also called dispersal).
The acupuncture point called lo or passage actually links two meridians that are joined at any pulse and is pricked with a view to sustain the balance of energy in a pair of meridians. Similarly, the acupuncture point called iu or assentiment is actually a diagnostic as well as healing point to treat the visceral organs. It may be noted that the iu point of every meridian is to be found on the bladder meridian (B).
Mo or the alarm turns out to be receptive whenever the meridian on which this acupuncture point is to be found is perturbed and, therefore, this point is a helpful indicator while diagnosing health conditions. The alarm acupuncture point of a particular meridian may possibly or may not be found on its specific meridian. On the other hand, the gueki acupuncture point generally turns sensitive as soon as its own meridian is concerned with any severe ailment, instead of chronic or persistent health conditions. In one aspect the gueki point is different from other command points - it is not found near the skin surface, but at some depth within the muscle making it not so easy to detect electrically.
All the meridians possessing just a solitary command point, the meridians jen-mo (JM) and tu-mo (TM), as well as the six other extraordinary meridians may be classified into two groups each of four yin as well as four yang meridians. The meridians in the yin group comprise jen-mo (having 24 solitary points), yin-oe (possessing three solitary plus five bilateral points), tchrong-mo (with one solitary as well as 11 bilateral points) and yin-tsiao-mo (having one solitary plus two bilateral points). The meridians in the yang group comprise tu-mo (having only 27 solitary points), yang-oe (possessing two solitary in addition to 15 bilateral points), yang-tsiao-mo (with one solitary plus 11 bilateral command points) and tae-mo (with one solitary in addition to three bilateral points).
The master acupuncture points found on the pairs of the meridians mentioned above are coupled with the objective of treatment - one acupuncture point on the higher extremity of a meridian is coupled with another point located on the lower extremity of another meridian, which makes four twosomes of coupled master acupuncture points, for instance, jen-mo (of L7) and yin-tsiao-mo (of K6); yin-oe (of HC6) and tchrong-mo (of SP 4); yang-tsiao-mo (of B 62) and tu-mu (of SI 3); and tae-mo (of GB 41) and yang-oe (of TH 15).
It is possible to treat (prick) all these meridians at any one point located on them. However, effectively treating the coupled master acupuncture points necessitates the two-metal contact technique or something equal to it, for instance, inserting two needles at the same acupuncture point.