When discussing acupuncture one cannot do so without bringing up meridians. In many ways, acupuncture is the focus and manipulation of meridians for overall well being.
They have been compared to many things. Some people look at them from the world of nature and they see rivers and streams flowing through the body. Others look at them from the world of technology and see copper wires on a control panel carrying electricity through over a complex control panel. These are the Acupuncture Meridians that carry the vital energy force through the body.
There are 20 of these Meridians. Twelve of them are considered main Meridians, and eight of them are called extra Meridians. There are also a few branches or offshoots of the main Meridians. The Meridians are sometimes named for an organ although the connection is not an exact one. For example, the Lung Meridian runs out of the arms, does pass the lungs, and turns around in the area of the large intestine.
The Chinese acupuncture theory came to some conclusions about the nature of energy and matter over 5,000 years ago. They identified two distinct types of energy. One was physical energy and the other was called subtle energy. Both of these energies were in a constant state of vibration. Physical matter is vibrating slowly and can be detected and even seen and felt. Subtle energy is vibrating very fast is unseen. Despite this the Chinese accepted subtle energy as every bit as real as physical energy. The theory of Yin, the energy of earth, and Yang, the energy of heaven enters into this as well. These opposite energies have combined in human beings and created inside them a balance.
This balance is maintained by the flow of subtle energy through the Meridians. Western scientific knowledge has not accepted the existence of the Meridians because they have not been able to see them or touch them. It is thought that the kind of internal connections that Traditional Chinese Medicine associates with Meridians is actually accomplished by the central nervous system.
The Acupuncture Meridians are very carefully mapped and on them are the acupuncture body points that act like switches and dams to control and regulate the flow of qi energy to the parts of the body where it is lacking, or even to drain it away from areas where it is too abundant. The Main Meridians and two of the Extra Meridians have their own distinct points. The other six Extra Meridians are controlled and regulated by combining stimulation of combinations of points located on the fourteen.