Traditional Chinese Herbal Medicine and Acupuncture
Introduction of Meridians and Collaterals
The meridians and collaterals are pathways in which the qi and blood of the human body are circulated. They pertain to the zang-fu organs interiorly and extend over the body exteriorly, forming a network and linking the tissues and organs into an organic whole. The meridians, which constitute the main trunks, run longitudinally and interiorly within the body; while the collaterals, which represent branches of the meridians, run transversely and superficially from the meridians.
The meridians and collaterals are collectively termed Jingluo (meridians and collaterals) in traditional Chinese medicine. This system of meridians and collaterals includes the twelve regular meridians, eight extra meridians, fifteen collaterals, twelve divergent meridians, twelve muscle regions and twelve cutaneous regions.
It is said in Chapter 33 of Miraculous Pivot that "internally, the twelve regular meridians connect with the zang-fu organs, and externally with the joints, limbs and other superficial tissues of the body." The meridians and collaterals are distributed both interiorly and exteriorly over the body, transporting qi and blood to nourish the zang-fu organs, skin, muscles, tendons and bones. Normal functioning of various organs is thus ensured, and a relative equilibrium maintained.
It is stated in Chapter 10 of Miraculous Pivot that "so important are the meridians and collaterals which determine life and death in the treatment of all diseases and the regulation of deficiency and excess conditions that one must gain a thorough understanding of them. The importance ofstudying the theory of meridians and collaterals can indeed never be overemphasized.
The theory of meridians and collaterals was systematized by the ancient Chinese in their prolonged clinical practice. Its formation is generally considered to be in relation to the observation of the symptoms and signs of diseases and the transmission of needling sensation, the application of Tuina (Chinese remedial massage), Daoying (ancient deep breathing exercises), and ancient anatomical knowledge.
Just like the other basic traditional Chinese medical theories, such as that of the zang-fu organs, of qi and blood, etc., the theory of meridians and collaterals is of great significance in guiding diagnosis and treatment in traditional Chinese medicine, and acupuncture in particular.
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