How Acupuncture Works

Chinese medicine, also known as Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), has a unique perspective on how the body works, focusing on a holistic approach that includes the balance of energy, known as Qi, and the harmony of the body’s systems. Here’s an overview of how TCM views the body systems:

Effectiveness of acupuncture

1.Qi (Energy)

  • Concept: Qi is the vital energy or life force that flows through the body. It is essential for maintaining health and vitality.
  • Functions: Qi is responsible for driving all physiological processes, protecting the body, and maintaining balance. It circulates through pathways called meridians.

2. Yin and Yang

  • Concept: Yin and Yang represent opposite yet complementary forces in the body. Yin is associated with coolness, rest, and nourishment, while Yang is associated with heat, activity, and stimulation.
  • Balance: Health is achieved by maintaining a balance between Yin and Yang. Imbalances can lead to disease.

3. Five Elements

  • Concept: The Five Elements (Wood, Fire, Earth, Metal, and Water) are used to understand and categorize various aspects of the body and its functions.
  • Relationships: Each element corresponds to different organs, emotions, and environmental factors. The interactions between these elements explain physiological and pathological changes.

Organs and Their Functions

In TCM, organs are understood as interconnected systems with both physical and energetic functions. Here are the main organs and their associated systems:

Liver (Wood Element)

  • Functions: Regulates the flow of Qi, stores blood, and maintains emotional balance. It is associated with the tendons and eyes.
  • Imbalances: Can cause anger, frustration, and physical symptoms like headaches or menstrual issues.

Heart (Fire Element)

  • Functions: Governs blood and vessels, houses the mind (Shen), and is associated with joy and mental activities.
  • Imbalances: Can cause insomnia, palpitations, anxiety, and emotional disturbances.

Spleen (Earth Element)

  • Functions: Governs digestion, transforms food into Qi and Blood, and manages the muscles. It is associated with thoughts and concentration.
  • Imbalances: Can cause fatigue, digestive issues, and worry.

Lungs (Metal Element)

  • Functions: Governs respiration, controls Qi and breath, and manages the skin. It is associated with the immune system and grief.
  • Imbalances: Can cause respiratory problems, skin issues, and sadness.

Kidneys (Water Element)

  • Functions: Stores essence (Jing), governs birth, growth, and reproduction, and regulates water metabolism. It is associated with bones and ears.
  • Imbalances: Can cause developmental issues, back pain, and fear.


In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), meridians and channels are fundamental concepts that describe the pathways through which Qi (vital energy) flows. These pathways are crucial for maintaining health and balance within the body. Here’s a more detailed exploration of their concept, function, and significance:

Meridians and Channels

Meridians, also known as channels, are a network of invisible pathways that distribute Qi, Blood, and body fluids throughout the body. They form a complex, interconnected system that links the body’s internal organs with its external parts. There are two main types of meridians: the 12 primary meridians and the 8 extraordinary meridians.

12 Primary Meridians

Each of the 12 primary meridians is associated with a specific organ and has a bilateral (left and right) symmetry. These meridians are named after the organs they are connected to and are responsible for regulating the physiological functions of these organs. They include:

  1. Lung Meridian (Hand Taiyin)
    • Associated Organ: Lungs
    • Function: Regulates the respiratory system and immune function.
  2. Large Intestine Meridian (Hand Yangming)
    • Associated Organ: Large Intestine
    • Function: Manages the digestive process and waste elimination.
  3. Stomach Meridian (Foot Yangming)
    • Associated Organ: Stomach
    • Function: Controls digestion and the processing of nutrients.
  4. Spleen Meridian (Foot Taiyin)
    • Associated Organ: Spleen
    • Function: Governs digestion, absorption, and the production of Qi and Blood.
  5. Heart Meridian (Hand Shaoyin)
    • Associated Organ: Heart
    • Function: Manages blood circulation and houses the mind (Shen).
  6. Small Intestine Meridian (Hand Taiyang)
    • Associated Organ: Small Intestine
    • Function: Separates clear from turbid and aids digestion.
  7. Bladder Meridian (Foot Taiyang)
    • Associated Organ: Bladder
    • Function: Regulates the storage and excretion of urine.
  8. Kidney Meridian (Foot Shaoyin)
    • Associated Organ: Kidneys
    • Function: Stores essence (Jing) and controls growth, development, and reproduction.
  9. Pericardium Meridian (Hand Jueyin)
    • Associated Organ: Pericardium
    • Function: Protects the heart and regulates blood circulation.
  10. Triple Burner Meridian (Hand Shaoyang)
    • Associated Organ: Triple Burner (San Jiao)
    • Function: Manages the body’s water passages and regulates Qi.
  11. Gallbladder Meridian (Foot Shaoyang)
    • Associated Organ: Gallbladder
    • Function: Controls the storage and excretion of bile and influences decision-making and courage.
  12. Liver Meridian (Foot Jueyin)
    • Associated Organ: Liver
    • Function: Ensures the smooth flow of Qi and stores blood.

8 Extraordinary Meridians

The 8 extraordinary meridians are not directly associated with specific organs but serve as reservoirs of Qi and Blood. They help regulate the flow of Qi in the primary meridians and maintain overall balance in the body. These include:

  1. Du Mai (Governing Vessel)
  2. Ren Mai (Conception Vessel)
  3. Chong Mai (Penetrating Vessel)
  4. Dai Mai (Belt Vessel)
  5. Yin Qiao Mai (Yin Motility Vessel)
  6. Yang Qiao Mai (Yang Motility Vessel)
  7. Yin Wei Mai (Yin Linking Vessel)
  8. Yang Wei Mai (Yang Linking Vessel)


Distribution of Qi and Blood

The primary function of the meridians and channels is to ensure the smooth and even distribution of Qi, Blood, and body fluids throughout the body. This distribution is essential for the following reasons:

  • Connecting Internal Organs with External Parts: Meridians link internal organs with specific external parts of the body, such as the skin, muscles, and joints. This connection allows the body’s surface to reflect the health of internal organs and vice versa.
  • Maintaining Balance and Harmony: By distributing Qi and Blood evenly, meridians help maintain the balance and harmony between the body’s various systems. This balance is crucial for overall health and well-being.
  • Pathways for Healing: Meridians provide pathways for therapeutic interventions like acupuncture, acupressure, and herbal treatments. Stimulating specific points along the meridians can restore balance and promote healing.
  • Communication and Regulation: Meridians facilitate communication between different parts of the body, ensuring that physiological processes are coordinated and regulated effectively.

The Role of Qi in the Meridians

Qi flows continuously through the meridians, providing energy for all bodily functions. There are several types of Qi in TCM, including:

  • Wei Qi (Defensive Qi): Protects the body from external pathogens.
  • Ying Qi (Nutrient Qi): Circulates with the blood and nourishes the organs.
  • Yuan Qi (Original Qi): Derived from the essence (Jing) and supports overall vitality.

Practical Application: Acupuncture and Acupressure


  • Concept: Involves inserting thin needles into specific points along the meridians to stimulate the flow of Qi and restore balance.
  • Function: Can alleviate pain, reduce inflammation, and promote healing by influencing the body’s energy flow and triggering biochemical changes.


  • Concept: Similar to acupuncture but uses manual pressure instead of needles to stimulate specific points.
  • Function: Helps relieve tension, pain, and stress by promoting the flow of Qi and improving circulation.


Meridians and channels are integral to the understanding of health and disease in Traditional Chinese Medicine. By ensuring the proper flow and distribution of Qi and Blood, these pathways maintain the body’s balance and harmony. Understanding and working with the meridian system through practices like acupuncture, acupressure, and Qi Gong can enhance overall health and well-being.

Whether you’re looking to relieve pain, reduce stress, or improve your overall health, acupuncture can help you achieve balance and well-being. This ancient practice has been trusted for thousands of years to promote natural healing and restore harmony in the body.

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