Traditional Chinese Herbal Medicine and Acupuncture
Basic Concept of the Meridians and Collaterals
Responsible for the circulation of qi and blood and distributed both interiorly and exteriorly across the body, the meridians and collaterals have an extensive coverage in contents. The following is a general description of their nomenclature, functions, distribution and the order of the cyclic flow of qi and blood.
Nomenclature of the meridians and collaterals and their composition
The twelve regular meridians include the three yin meridians of the hand (the Lung Meridian of Hand-Taiyin, the Pericardium Meridian of Hand-Jueyin and the Heart Meridian of Hand-Shaoyin), the three yang meridians of the hand (the Large Intestine Meridian of Hand-Yangming, the Sanjiao (Triple Energizer) Meridian of Hand-Shaoyang and the Small Intestine Meridian of Hand-Taiyang), the three yang meridians of the foot (the Stomach Meridian of Foot-Yangming, the Gallbladder Meridian of Foot-Shaoyang and the Bladder Meridian of Foot-Taiyang), and the three yin meridians of the foot (the Spleen Meridian of Foot-Taiyin, the Liver Meridian of Foot- Jueyin and the Kidney Meridian of Foot-Shaoyin). They are called the twelve regular meridians because they are the major trunks in the system.
The nomenclature of the twelve regular meridians is based on the three factors:
Both the upper limbs (hands) and lower limbs (feet) are divided into six regions, which are supplied respectively by the three yin (Taiyin, Shaoyin and Jueyin) and three yang (Yangming, Taiyang and Shaoyang) meridians. There exists an exterior-interior relationship between the three yin and three yang meridians.
In accordance with the fact that the zang organs pertain to yin, the fu organs to yang, and the medial aspect is attributed to yin, the lateral aspect, to yang, the meridians that pertain to the zang organs are yin meridians, which are mainly distributed on the medial aspect of the four limbs. Those distributed on the medial aspect of the upper limbs are three yin meridians of the hand while those distributed on the medial aspect of the lower limbs are three yin meridians of the foot.
The meridians that pertain to the fu organs are yang meridians, which mainly travel along the lateral aspect of the four limbs. Those travelling along the lateral aspect of the upper limbs are three yang meridians of the hand while those travelling along the lateral aspect of the lower limbs are the three yang meridians of the foot.
The eight extra meridians, different from the twelve regular meridians, are called the extra meridians in short. Their nomenclature is explained as follows.
Besides, the twelve divergent meridians are those going out from the regular meridians and the fifteen collaterals are branches arising from the regular meridians. Connected with their own relating regular meridians, the twelve muscle regions and cutaneous regions of the twelve regular meridians are named after hand or foot, three yin or three yang respectively as well.
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