ISSN 2398-2969      

Acupuncture: meridian systems

Clapis
Contributor(s):

Tim Couzens

Sarah Binns


Overview

  • Acupuncture has been used in the treatment of a wide range of acute and chronic conditions spanning all organ systems.
  • Acupuncturists recommend its use in acute conditions such as vomiting, diarrhea, back pain, disc prolapse and fever.
  •  It has also been used for a wide range of chronic conditions primarily musculoskeletal and also organ support, eg conditions of the liver, kidney, pancreas, stomach, small and large intestine and lung. Also useful post injury, eg pain relief and assisting recovery from paralysis, eg bladder, hind limbs.
  • Acupuncture can be effective in the control of epilepsy, in management of endocrine disorders, in providing support in cancer care and help in assisting with some behavioral disorders.
  • The 12 organs in the body, viewed by Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) as the Zang-Fu organs, correspond to the 12 major paired (bilaterally symmetrical) meridians. There are six Yin (Zang) organs and six Yang (Fu) organs. In TCM an organ is defined by its functions rather than physical structure, enabling the identification of organs not recognized in the West, such as the Triple Heater.
  • The meridians exist both internally and superficially on the body. They transmit the signal from stimulation of an acupoint to the relevant Zang-Fu organ.
  • Each of the limbs has three Yin channels and three Yang channels. The lateral aspect of each limb in Yang, while the medial aspect is Yin. 
  • The three Yang channels of the forelimb terminate at the head, and the Yang channels of the hindlimb begin there, so the head is the 'gathering house of all the Yang'. Similarly, the chest is the 'gathering house of all the Yin'.
  • Qi (or body life force/energy) circulates through the main meridians in a 24 hour cycle (referred to as the Chinese circadian clock), staying in each meridian for 2 hours.
  • The flow of Qi (derived from the body's intake of air and food) follows a set pathway, namely: Lung- Large intestine- Stomach- Spleen- Heart- Small intestine- Bladder- Kidney- Pericardium- Triple heater- Gall bladder- Liver back to the Lungs.
  • Qi flows through the Lung meridian between 03.00 and 05.00 hours and then through the other organs in the cycle at 2-hourly intervals.
  • In addition to these 12 main meridians, there are 8 non-paired ('speical' or 'extraordinary') meridians that are not connected to the Zang-Fu organs listed above. Two of these are regularly used in acupuncture, namely the Governing Vessel (GV) and Conception Vessel (CV) meridians. Most of the other extraordinary channels do not have their own acupoints. They balance the flow of Qi within the main meridians and facilitate communication between them.
  • There are also 15 small collateral meridians that connect related internal and external meridians and 12 divergent meridians that branch from the elbow and stifle regions of the main meridians and connect the Yin meridians with the head and neck.
  • Many experiments on the scientific basis of acupuncture have been carried out on rabbits in the laboratory setting, therefore more is known about the physiology of acupuncture in rabbits than most domestic animals.

The twelve main meridians - LU to ST

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The twelve main meridians - SP to SI

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The twelve main meridians - BL to PC

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The twelve main meridians - TH to LIV

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The twelve main meridians - GV and CV

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Further Reading

Publications

Refereed papers

  • Recent references from PubMed and VetMedResource.
  • Habacher G, Pittler M H & Ernst E (2006) Effectiveness of acupuncture in veterinary medicine: systematic review. J Vet Intern Med 20 (3), 480-488 PubMed.
  • Xie H & Ortiz-Umpierre C (2006) What acupuncture can and cannot treat. J Am Anim Hosp Assoc 42 (4), 244-248 PubMed.
  • Chiu J H, Cheng H C, Tai C H et al (2001) Electroacupuncture-induced neural activation detected by use of manganese-enhanced functional magnetic resonance imaging in rabbits. Am J Vet Res 62 (2), 178-82 PubMed
  • Scott S (2001) Developments in veterinary acupuncture. Acupunct Med 19 (1), 27-31 PubMed.
  • Gaynor J S (2000) Acupuncture for management of pain. Vet Clin North Am Small Anim Pract 30 (4), 875-884 PubMed.
  • Mittleman E & Gaynor J S (2000) A brief overview of the analgesic and immunologic effects of acupuncture in domestic animals. JAVMA 217 (8), 1201-1205 PubMed
  • Ho M W, Knight D P (1998) The acupuncture system and the liquid crystalline collagen fibers of the connective tissues. Am J Chin Med 26 (3-4), 251-263 PubMed.
  • Bossut D F (1996) Veterinary clinical applications of acupuncture. J Altern Complement Med (1), 65-69 PubMed.
  • Takagi J, Sawada T & Yonehara N (1996) A possible involvement of monoaminergic and opioidergic systems in the analgesia induced by electro-acupuncture in rabbits. Jpn J Pharmacol 70 (1), 73-80 PubMed.
  • Yu C, Zhang K, Lu G et al (1994) Characteristics of acupuncture meridians and acupoints in animals. Rev Sci Tech 13 (3), 927-933 PubMed.
  • Janssens L A (1993) The role of acupuncture in analgesia. Tijdschr Diergeneeskd 118 (Suppl 1), 11S-12S PubMed.
  • Altman S (1992) Techniques and instrumentation. Probl Vet Med (1), 66-87 PubMed. 
  • Altman S (1992) The incorporation of acupuncture into a small animal practice. Probl Vet Med (1), 223-233 PubMed.
  • Dill S G (1992) Acupuncture for gastrointestinal disorders. Probl Vet Med (1), 144-154 PubMed.
  • Durkes T E (1992) Gold bead implants. Probl Vet Med (1), 207-211 PubMed.
  • Hwang Y C (1992) Anatomy and classification of acupoints. Probl Vet Med (1), 12-15 PubMed.
  • Hwang Y C (1992) Acupuncture atlas. Probl Vet Med (1), 16-33 PubMed.
  • Jaggar D (1992) History and basic introduction to veterinary acupuncture. Probl Vet Med (1), 1-11 PubMed.
  • Janssens L A (1992) Trigger point therapy. Probl Vet Med (1), 117-124 PubMed.
  • Klide A M (1992) Acupuncture Analgesia. Vet Clin North Am Small Anim Pract 22 (2), 374-379 PubMed.
  • Limehouse J B (1992) Oriental concepts of acupuncture. Probl Vet Med (1), 53-65 PubMed
  • Lin J H & Panzer R (1992) Acupuncture for reproductive disorders. Probl Vet Med (1), 155-161 PubMed.
  • Rogers P A, Schoen A M & Limehouse J (1992) Acupuncture for immune-mediated disorders. Literature review and clinical applications. Probl Vet Med (1), 162-193 PubMed.
  • Schoen A M (1992) Acupuncture for musculoskeletal disorders. Probl Vet Med (1), 88-97 PubMed
  • Schwartz C (1992) Chronic respiratory conditions and acupuncture therapy. Probl Vet Med (1) 136-143 PubMed.
  • Smith F W Jr. (1992) Acupuncture for cardiovascular disorders. Probl Vet Med (1), 125-131 PubMed.
  • Smith F W Jr. (1992) Neurophysiologic basis of acupuncture. Probl Vet Med (1), 34-52 PubMed.
  • Robinson C (1990) Getting started in acupuncture. Aust Vet J 67 (10), N423 PubMed.
  • Schoen A M, Janssens L & Rogers P A (1986) Veterinary acupuncture. Semin Vet Med Surg (Small Anim) (3), 224-229 PubMed.
  • Williams B M (1986) Acupuncture treatment of paralysis. Vet Rec 119 (13), 340 PubMed.
  • Craige J E (1985) Acupuncture for fleabite allergic dermatitis. JAVMA 187 (2), 127 PubMed.
  • Altman S (1981) Clinical use of veterinary acupuncture. Vet Med Small Anim Clin 76 (9), 1307-1312 PubMed.
  • Janssens L, Altman S & Rogers P A (1979) Respiratory and cardiac arrest under general anaesthesia - treatment by acupuncture of the nasal philtrum. Vet Rec 105 (12), 273-276 PubMed.
  • Rogers P A (1978) Veterinary acupuncture. Vet Rec 102 (17), 387 PubMed.
  • Altman S (1977) Acupuncture - taking a closer look. Mod Vet Pract 58 (12), 1003-1006 PubMed.
  • Freeman A (1974) Veterinary acupuncture. JAVMA 164 (5), 446-448 PubMed.

Other sources of information

  • Xie H & Preast V (2007) Xies Veterinary Acupuncture. Blackwell Publishing.
  • Lindley S & Cummings M (2006) Essentials of Western Veterinary Acupuncture. Blackwell Publishing.
  • Schoen A (2000) Veterinary Acupuncture. Ancient Art to Modern Medicine. 2nd edn. Mosby. 
  • Ernst E & White A (1999) Eds Acupuncture A Scientific Appraisal. Butterworth.
  • Filshie J & White A (1998) Eds Medical Acupuncture A Western Scientific Approach. Churchill Livingstone.
  • Schoen & Wynn (1997) Complementary and Alternative Veterinary Medicine. Mosby.
  • Maciocia G (1989) The Foundations of Chinese Medicine. Churchill Livingstone.
  • Kaputchuk T J (1983) Chinese Medicine - The Web That Has No Weaver. Rider.

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