“It is by virtue of the twelve channels that human life exists, that disease arises, that human beings can be treated and illness cured. The twelve channels are where the beginners start and the masters end. To beginners it seems easy; the master knows how difficult it is.”
Spiritual Pivot Chapter 17, quoted in A Manual of Acupuncture
The fundamental theory in acupuncture and Chinese medicine is that the body is connected by acupuncture channels. This is the basic acupuncture anatomical architecture through which disease imbalances are diagnosed and treated.
Five Functions of Acupuncture Channels
The channels have specific functions in maintaining health. They help to
- Interconnect and integrate the body
- Allow for circulation of qi, body’s energy, and blood
- Protect the body from disease
- Bring qi to a diseased area of the body
- Are used to treat illness by returning balance
The nature of an acupuncture channel
Jing Luo, the Chinese for acupuncture channel, is also often translated as acupuncture meridian. As a translation, I prefer acupuncture channel over acupuncture meridian, but both terms have their benefits.
Here is a picture of a water channel, the famous Yangtze river in China. It is deep at parts and shallow at parts. It winds its way through the mountains, going deep into the ground.
As opposed to the meridian lines on a map. These give the reader an ability to navigate the geography, but only lie on the surface, but do not go deeper.
The acupuncture channels start at the surface of the body. Then, like a waterway, delves deep to connect with the organs. Acupuncture channels are three dimensional, with qi flowing through them like a waterway, not like a map. This is why we can use acupuncture not only for muscular pain but also to treat internal issues like hormone imbalances and digestive problems.
But the acupuncture channels also define and map the interconnections of the body, like the meridians of a map. So the concept of the meridian also is applicable.