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Energy Medicine – Eastern and Western Perspectives


Modalities stemming from Chinese, Korean or Japanese traditions focus primarily on the meridians.

In more detail, the meridian “piece” of the overall energy system is composed of twelve “paired” meridians, named after key organs. They are paired in that they are bilateral, existing on both the left and right sides of the body. The element and pair associations are: Wood (Liver and Gall Bladder), Fire (Heart/Pericardium and Small Intestine/Triple Warmer), Earth (Spleen and Stomach), Metal (Lung and Large Intestine), and Water (Kidney and Urinary Bladder). Each Element also has “qualities” that are associated with it, such as season, color, climate, human sound, emotion, taste, body orifice, tissue, smell, body fluid, and sense. Each meridian also has high and low times, 12 hours apart. The energy/chi in the body moves through the body in a linear fashion, one meridian to the next.

In addition, they are primarily either Yin or Yang meridians (six each), plus being paired with one of the Five Elements of Traditional Chinese Medicine (Fire, Earth, Metal, Water and Wood). The exception is the Fire element, which is associated with four meridians. There are also two non-paired meridians – the Conception Vessel running longitudinally on the front of the body and the Governing Vessel running longitudinally on the back of the body. In addition to these 14, there are 8 Extraordinary Vessels (also called the Strange Flows), which have no associated acupoints of their own but intersect and connect the other meridians. Meridians run superficially (close to the skin) and deep (within the body). Acupuncture points are simply those locations where a meridian comes close to the surface. As a point of hard scientific fact, the actual acupoints can be detected by measuring the differences in electrical conductivity of the skin compared to surrounding tissue.

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