Chinese Meridians: A Closer Look, Part 1

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Chinese meridians | magnifying the energy systemThis Series On The Chinese Meridians includes:
Part 1:
Introduction  |  Meridian Definition  |  Meridian System Or Network Of Body Meridians  |  The 12 Meridians And Meridian Chart  |  Main Physical And Psychological Relationships For The 12 Meridians  |  Radiant Energy Field
Part 2:
Classifying The 12 Main Chinese Meridians  |  Yin And Yang Energy Meridians  |  Arm And Leg Meridians  |  The Chinese Meridian Clock
Part 3:
Relative Qualities Of The 12 Meridians (chart)  |  The Eight Extraordinary Vessels  |  Summary Of The Eight Extraordinary Vessels (Chart)  |  Chinese Transversal Lo Vessels
Part 4:
Meridian Tracing  |  Donna Eden’s Meridian Tracing Videos  |  ‘Naughty’ Meridian Videos Resource  |  Awesome Acupuncture And Meridian Charts  |  The Chinese Meridians Controversy


The Chinese meridians system is a fascinating topic that merits a closer look. Since there is a lot of information to cover, it is divided into four parts, starting with the 12 meridians or main body meridians. If you came here looking for a meridian definition; a meridian chart; the meridian clock, or other specific details about the meridians of Traditional Chinese Medicine, the content guide above, will help you find it faster.


Before we start, I need to clarify a few points.

As I cannot read Chinese, everything in this series of articles is based on information written in English. It is therefore a description of the Traditional Chinese Medicine meridian system, or the acupuncture meridians, as taught in western cultures.

The aim here is to give you a solid grounding in the concept of Chinese, body meridians, not to make you an expert in Traditional Chinese Medicine. I hope you find it useful background information for the self healing methods that relate to it.

Why bother with this?

Well, a general understanding of the Chinese meridians system will help you get more value out of energy healing practices; in particular, self healing tools like Qigong, and EFT (also known as meridian tapping).

Plus it’s worth taking a look at, just because it offers a completely different approach to health than western medicine.

Those with a scientific bent are still trying to find a way around the invisible energy concept associated with body meridians, so there is plenty of controversy. Some of the beliefs and limitations are briefly covered at the end of the series.

The Chinese meridians system is a BIG topic! The more you study it, the more complex it gets. There are so many facets and interconnected components, that it’s easy to get caught up in all of the detail, which is why I’ve clarified the bulk of the information for you.

So, sit back, take your time and enjoy the energy flow.

Meridian Definition

Meridian is a French term dating back to the 14th century, coming from the Latin word meridianus, referring to midday or middle day. It was first used as a name for the imaginary lines of energy running between the terrestial poles – we know these Earth meridians as lines of longitude. Similarly, celestial meridians run between the celestial poles.

The term was later applied to the human body energy lines, known as acupuncture meridians.  The Chinese call them jing luo, which means channel network; and ‘meridian’ is the commonly used but not very accurate translation. Jing luo have been at the heart of Traditional Chinese Medicine for over 5,000 years.

Chinese acupuncture meridians are invisible energy pathways or channels in the human body, marked by energy hot spots called acupuncture points or meridian points. They transport vital life force, known as chi, to all parts of the body.

In this series of four articles, the words, meridian, channel and vessel are used interchangeably to refer to these energy pathways.

Meridian System Or Network Of Body Meridians

Imagine the Chinese meridians system as an energy highwayThe Chinese meridians system is a whole-body network of 20 primary energy channels or jing luo. They include 12 principal or main meridians, and 8 extraordinary vessels; all of which are linked by a large number of secondary, connecting vessels.

The meridians travel up and down the body; and from the skin to deep within all of the organs, bones, and soft tissues.  A typical meridian chart, like the one below, usually only shows the part of each channel that is close to the surface. The deeper branches are rarely shown.

Each of the 12 meridians have their own unique acupuncture points, as do two of the Extraordinary ones. The remaining six Extraordinary Vessels, however, link to points on the principal meridians. All together, there are over five hundred identified points, but the only people needing such a detailed chart are students or practitioners of acupuncture. Just in case you’re interested, though, there’s more information and a link to a brilliant acupuncture chart, in part 4.

The 12 Meridians And The Meridian Chart

  • These twelve principal channels are also referred to as the regular or main meridians.

  • Acupuncture Meridian Chart from AMT showing main meridians They are bilateral, symmetrically placed, channels, running like major energy highways, on both sides of the body, even if the organ they supply is only on one side. Like blood vessels, they serve every major organ and body system but instead of carrying blood they carry chi (qi).

  • They are named for the main organ or system that they serve, so most of the names are self explanatory. The stomach meridian (the aqua line on the chart) obviously looks after the stomach, the bladder meridian takes care of your bladder, and so on.

  • The 12 meridians are : the lung, the large intestine, the stomach, the spleen, the heart, the small intestine, the bladder, and the kidney meridians; the pericardium (also known as the circulation-sex meridian); the triple warmer meridian (also known as the triple heater); the gall bladder, and the liver meridians.

  • These are the ones most commonly found on a standard meridian chart. Thanks to  AMT  for sharing their Meridian Chart. Please note the darker green line is mistakenly labelled ‘Governing Vessel’, (one of the extraordinary meridians). It is, in fact, the Triple Warmer meridian.  Click here for a larger, Chinese meridian chart.

  • These twelve main meridians also take care of a lot more than a single organ, as you’ll see in the table below.

  • There is a correlation between your mental or emotional state, and the health of your meridians. Sluggish or blocked chi can lead to emotional and mental states that we consider to be negative, like anger, anxiety and guilt. Likewise, experiencing negative emotional states repeatedly, will slow or block the flow of chi. This means that you can improve the flow of chi by improving the way you think and feel; and conversely, you can improve how you feel and think by improving the health of your meridians.

Main Physical And Psychological Relationships
For The 12 Meridians Of Chinese Medicine

Meridian Name
Related Body Part, System, Or Function
Thoughts & Emotions Linked To Reduced Meridian Health
LUNGRespiratory system, lungs, bronchi
Immune system, allergies
Communication issues
LARGE INTESTINELarge intestine, lymphatic components of intestines, intestinal flora, food allergies, constipation, diarrhoea. Also affects teeth and sinuses.Fear of loss
Self esteem
Avoiding connections
STOMACHStomach; digesting food; acid production. Also affects eyes; upper jaw with teeth; nose; ears; blood circulation in legs and feet; knee and ankle joints.Discontent
Stress – anxiety
Annoyance – acidic personailty
SPLEENSpleen and pancreas; blood and lymph composition; aids stomach; fluid regulation. Affects muscles and connective tissueStress and worry
Anxiety about the future
Obsessive thoughts
“King of the organs”
Heart, blood vessels, blood circulation
Oxygen supply of body
Associated with thymus gland
Affects all the other organs
Houses the spirit (shen)
Feeling unloved, unlovable
Withholding love from others
Forgiveness issues, anger
Emotional pressure
SMALL INTESTINESmall intestine, intestinal flora, food allergies; mucous membranes of intestines, nose and throat; Sinuses; Ear infections, pain or tinnitus.
Nervous diseases.
Digesting life – dealing with emotional and mental demands
Sadness – lack of joy
BLADDER – the longest meridianBladder and all of pelvis, including reproductive organs; lower dantian; Eye, sinus and bladder infections; spinal problems, sciatica, headaches.At war with the world
Chaotic life
Hating partner or job
Restlessness, impatience, frustration
KIDNEYKidneys and excretion; muscles (cramps); connective tissue health; adrenals; blood circulation; entire skeleton; bone marrow; brain function; visual acuity, chronic ear problems; influences cellular fluid & synovial fluids in joints.Fear
Wilfulness and stubborness
Issues with sexual confidence
“Kings Bodyguard”
The pericardium (the protective fibrous sac around the heart). Blood pressure; blood circulation; chest pain and pressure; spasms; libido – sexual energy. Heart shield – physical and emotional.Seeing life as pressure
Poorly shielded from your own or other’s negative emotions like hurt, regret and jealousy
Sexual tension
(Triple Burner, San Jiao, Triple Heater)
Endocrine system – hormonal balance; Autonomic Nervous System; basic drives and appetite; metabolic rate (heat); affects “thermostat” in brain. The 3 “burning spaces” are: chest/respiratory; abdomen/digestive; pelvis/reproduction and eliminationHope and Hopelessness
Depression and despair
Loneliness and isolation
Issues with family and social dynamics
GALL BLADDERGall bladder; bile production. Detoxification. Chronic health problems. Brain; eyes; ears – tinnitus; sinusitis; migraines.Psychological pressure & stress
Rage – anger, hot-tempered
Forgiveness issues
LIVEREntire metabolism. Leg veins – varicose veins. Lower abdomen especially ovaries & uterus. Cramps; numbness; painful tendons; fatigue.
Eyes – liver Qi flows to the eyes.
Grief – sorrow
Taking offence
Feeling unlucky



* * *  Now For Some Light Relief (Pun Intended)  * * *


Radiant Energy Field

radiant energy field | meridian star rays This is an idea that I’d like to share with you, just for fun. In the usual chart of the Chinese meridians, such as the one you saw earlier, the main body meridians are shown as straight line segments that travel up and down the limbs, torso and head between acupuncture points, like a join-the-dots picture.

But here’s a thought… since we are multidimensional beings, wouldn’t it makes more sense to have a radiant energy field, like a star, in addition to, or perhaps instead of, a purely linear one?

What if the acupuncture chart model of join-the-dots meridians, is not the full picture of how the human energy body works?

Maybe the lines are curved instead of straight; and maybe the acupuncture points are not so much about lines ALONG the body as they are about lines flowing INTO and OUT OF it.

What if the meridian points are entry and exit points, for radiant meridians that conduct electro-magnetic energy between our physical and non-physical selves.

Or, what if these radiant meridians link us with a shared field of pure creative energy? Yes, I’m talking about God; Bhudda; The-All-That-Is; The Source; Great Spirit, or whatever you like to call it.

I’m not saying this is how it is, but does the truth of it matter, if the concept creates positive results?

My special visualisation or meditation, below, makes it easier to use the Chinese qigong techniques of breathing with the whole body, and connecting to “the emptiness”. It will help you to release blocked chi associated with dis-ease; and to strengthen the connection with your Higher Self.

If You’ve Got A Moment, Give This A Go Right Now

(You don’t need a meridian chart or qigong training to do this.)

Sit or stand quietly and imagine that you are at the centre of a giant sphere of positive energy, that is your non-physical self; and you are connected to this more expansive YOU by thousands of radiating meridian channels. Visualise energy flowing in and out of your physical body in 360 degrees, as meridian star rays (something like the picture above).  Breathe in slowly, deep into your belly, and allow the healing chi to flow in from all directions.  Breathe out and mentally release all the stagnant, ‘negative’ energy.  Your non-physical self will not be harmed.  Note: After filling your belly with vital life force, you can also focus your attention on specific areas that require healing.  Do this for as long as you like.  It’s as simple as that.


Okay, that’s my two-cents-worth. I hope you feel refreshed.

Now, back to the traditional Chinese / western teaching……. continued in part 2.

Click Here For part 2 >>

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