Chinese Medicine practitioners help people to become healthy again, and to remain healthy, utilizing herbs and physical medicine, such as acupuncture, acupressure, and tuina. Rather than relying on anatomy and physiology in the Western sense, Chinese medicine focuses on how the energy flows throughout the body. (click on picture for larger image)
Thousands of years ago, they discovered that energy flows in an orderly manner through channels they called meridians. Moreover, the flow of energy could be influenced by putting pressure and/or heat on points along these channels. They named these points acupoints.
Lore has it that some soldiers pierced by arrows during battle noticed that some of their old ailments disappeared. Over time, these points were mapped, leading to the discovery of this network of energy pathways, the meridians.
A Western analogy might be the electrical wiring in our homes and businesses that carries electricity to wall outlets where we plug in our home, business, and recreation appliances, and to the light sockets where we screw in our light bulbs. Only, the meridian system is much more sophisticated and versatile.
The meridians form a complicated circuit of energy pathways that move up and down the body near the surface, but also enter deep into the body to connect with each other and supply the organs, and other body structures, with energy. (click on pictures for larger image)
Energy can flow smoothly and orderly, or it can get stuck in places, leaving some places oversupplied and others undersupplied. Where we have too much energy, we experience heat, congestion, and pain or discomfort. Where the energy is low, we feel tired, cold, and weak..
When stimulating the acupoints with needles (acupuncture), finger tips (acupressure), or heat & herbs (moxa), the energy starts flowing again and the entire system becomes energetically more balanced. That’s the general idea behind acupuncture, or acupressure.
The meridians appear to be embedded in the connective tissue, which weaves through and envelops every cell, tissue, and organ, as well as body structures, such as blood and lymph vessels, nerves, and meridians. Connective tissue (fascia, tendons, ligaments, etc) can vary from a gel like substance to hard as bone. In fact, bone is considered a specialized form of connective tissue. Connective tissue binds structures together, creates space (compartments) for all the structures, and moves (conducts) body fluids, nerve stimuli, and energy through it.
We cannot see meridians with our bare eyes, or feel their structures with our bare hands. However, the meridians have been visualized (Pierre de Vernejoul, 1985, University of Paris) by injecting a radioactive dye into the meridian points and observing the dye move along the paths that the Chinese Medicine practioners had mapped out thousands of years ago. Moreover, the experiment confirmed that the energy flows only in one direction within a meridian. (The picture is a thermal image, not depicting the flow of the dye)
Energy supports life. Without it, nothing moves. The body’s cells make their own energy every moment of life in their energy factories, called mitochondria. However, they can not do so without being energized themselves by some form of primal energy source. That is the mystery of life that we have not been able to solve yet.