You may be puzzled when for example, you are seeking to relieve neck pain and are advised to massage a pressure point on the “gallbladder meridian”. You may wonder, 'what does neck ache have to do with my gallbladder?'
In fact, all our body parts and functions are intricately interrelated. That's according to the holistic system of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) and the roles of the body meridians. Also, their points go far beyond the organs which they are named after.
Imbalances in one area may give rise to symptoms in another. These can manifest on a physical or emotional level, or both. As part of TCM, acupressure seeks to treat the energy blocks and imbalances. Those that underlie the symptoms regarding the body and mind as one interconnected whole.
Each meridian is associated with certain types of vital energy or qi, qualities (such as cooling or warming), sense organs, emotions, and elements. They are also classified as yin or yang. Depending on the direction of energy flow and their location on the inner or outer regions of the limbs and torso.
From the point of view of modern western medicine, which tends to focus more on identifying pathogens and treating diseases and their symptoms in isolation, it may all sound very complex and mystical. But with 2500 years of history as well as numerous modern studies confirming the benefits of acupuncture and acupressure, it’s not surprising that more and more people are turning to this amazing risk-free system of healing.
Briefly, there are twelve major meridians that run on both sides of the body, each side mirroring the other. These channels are named after the organs that they relate to, as we will see below, with the exception of the Triple Burner Meridian which primarily regulates temperature in the body.
In addition, two other important meridians, belonging to a category called extraordinary vessels, are commonly used in acupressure and acupuncture: the Conception Vessel and Governing Vessel.
These primary meridians are interwoven by a network of minor meridians. Think of it as an energy superhighway, a web of subtle pathways that penetrate and interconnect each cell of your body while also influencing your mental and emotional states.
The 12 Major Body Meridians
Lung Meridian (LU)
Starts in front of the shoulder. Runs down the top edge of the inner arm.
Ends at the thumb
Stomach Meridian (ST)
Begins under the eye and descends to the jaw, before looping back up to the forehead. Then drops back down and runs through the throat, chest and abdomen. And on down the front of the legs to the second toe
Kidney Meridian (KI)
Begins on the sole of the foot and runs up the inner leg and central torso. Ends under the collarbone
Triple Burner Meridian (TB)
Runs from the tip of the ring finger up the centre of the back of the arm. Up the side of the neck and around the ear. Ends at the outer tip of the eyebrow. (Also known as Triple Warmer TW / Triple Energiser TE or San Jiao)
Large Intestine Meridian (LI)
Runs from the index fingertip up the top edge of the back of the arm. Across the shoulder and up the throat. Ends just below the nose on opposite side
Heart Meridian (HT)
Starts near the armpit and runs down the lower edge of the inner arm. Ends at the tip of the little finger
Bladder Meridian (BL or UB)
Starts near the inside corner of the eye and runs up the skull where it works outwards before running down the back (with several branches). And on down the back of the leg. Ends outside the little toe
Liver Meridian (LV or Li)
Runs from the big toe up the front of the inner leg and across the torso. Ends below the nipple
Spleen Meridian (SP)
Runs from the big toe up the inside of the leg. Across the abdomen and up the side of the chest. Ends on the ribcage underneath the shoulder
Small Intestine Meridian (SI)
Runs from the tip of the little finger up the lower back of the arm. Behind the shoulder then up the side of the neck and cheek. Ends in front of the ear
Pericardium Meridian (PC)
Starts in the middle of the chest. One branch descends to the diaphragm, while another runs along the centre of the inner arm. Ends at the middle fingertip
Gall Bladder Meridian (GB)
Begins at the outer corner of the eye. Zig-zags over the ear, skull and forehead, then runs down the back of the skull. And on down the side of the body and leg. Ends at the fourth toe
Two Extra Body Meridians
Governing Vessel (GV) or Du Mai (DU)
Begins at the perineum (between the anus and genitals). Runs up the spine and over the top of the head. Ends in the groove above the upper lip
Conception Vessel (CV) or Ren Mai (REN)
Begins at the perineum (as above). Runs up the midline of the front of the body. Ends just below the lower lip
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