Also called "acupuncture points", "acupressure points", or "tsubos", acupoints are located on the meridians. They are areas of potential imbalance, where Qi, which circulates in the meridians, is most likely to become obstructed. Western research has shown that approximately 85% of the classical acupoints have a higher electro-magnetic resistance than the immediate surrounding area. This implies that they are areas where electro-magnetic current, our "information highway", is most likely to be disrupted. There are 364 classical acupoints points on the organ meridians and on two of the extraordinary vessels, the Governing and the Conception vessels. Besides being areas of potential obstruction in the flow of Qi, many of the acupoints have specific energetics, are used as diagnostic points, and impart information to the body. As an example, the acupoint, Stomach 38, "Relaxes Muscles and Tendons and Benefits the Shoulder" and is often used for "frozen shoulder" syndrome. The UN (United Nations) has standardized the names of the classical acupoints. They are named for the organ meridian they are on, and the order in which they fall. Besides the classical acupoints, there are hundreds of "extra points", of which approximately 20 are used with frequency.
"Blood" is a nourishing, liquid, Yin substance, similar to but not identical with the Western concept of blood. Blood transmits nourishment and provides the material matrix for mental and emotional life and harmony. It is said that "Blood Houses the Mind, and Calms the Spirit". Blood is generated by the Spleen, stored by the Liver, and transported by the Heart.
There are traditionally seven broad emotions in Chinese medicine: Joy, Sadness/Grief, Pensiveness/Worry, Fear, Anger, Shock, and Fright. In Chinese medicine the emotions are neither "good" nor "bad", they simply are part of being human and alive. There are good reasons to feel fear at times, to be angry, to worry, to feel joy, to feel grief and sadness. These feelings are indicators of our personal and collective relationship with the world and ourselves. In optimal health, our emotions flow freely, are acknowledged, responded to appropriately, and then we move on to the next "feeling". Disharmony and illness only arise when we become "stuck" in our emotions, try to ignore or suppress them. In my clinical practice many clients have come to attribute these "stuck" emotional issues as the primary cause of many diseases, including digestive, respiratory and sexual disorders, colitis/IBS, migraines, hypertension, skin disorders, depression and anxiety. These disorders do need to be addressed at a physical level, but until the underlying emotional issues are resolved/released we do not seem to be able to fully heal.
The Extraordinary Vessels are believed to be formed in the fetus, prior to the formation of the 12 organ meridians. French and Japanese texts postulate that the subtle organization of the Extraordinary Vessels serves as a matrix in which energetic organization and cellular differentiation occur. This matrix is present at the moment of conception and organizes the structuring of energy from the earliest multicellular stages of fetal development. The Extraordinary Vessels, also known as the "Curious Vessels" or "Flows", are likened to "seas" or "lakes" that hold and disperse Qi, whereas the organ meridians are seen as "rivers" through which Qi flows. They play an important role in adjusting and controlling the flow of Qi and Blood in the 12 organ meridians, act as reservoirs of energy that is available to fill the principal meridians when they face a deficient condition, and to receive energy overflow when the principal meridians are in a state of excess/stagnation, and act as a homeostatic equilibrium system, allowing the energy circulation network to operate efficiently in maintaining healthy activities.
Five Element Theory
The five Element Theory describes energetic balances and correspondences within the body and outside the body, and how these interact to generate health or disease.
Also called "Essence", Jing forms the material basis of an individual's life. "Pre-natal Essence" is the fundamental substance of life acquired from the parents at conception, is stored in the Kidneys, and is not replenishable. "Post-natal Essence" is derived from the air, food, and fluids that we breathe, eat, and drink, and is used to provide us with the energy to perform the functions of life. The surplus of post-natal essence is stored in the Kidneys and to some degree supplements, offsets and postpones the attrition of pre-natal essence. The best way to positively affect one's Essence is by striving for balance in one's life activities: Balance between work and rest, a balanced, high quality diet, and balance in sexual activity. Any irregularity in these spheres will diminish Essence. A direct way to positively influence one's Essence is through breathing exercises, Tai Ji Quan and Qi Gong.
The "Meridians" are energy lines that circulate the "life force", or Qi, throughout the body. They can be thought of as an energy grid through which all life derives its power. The meridians contain acupoints, which are located in areas that are particularly difficult for Qi to pass through, and which have specific energetic functions that affect specific organ meridians or the system as a whole.
There are 12 Organ Meridians: Lungs, Large Intestine, Stomach, Spleen, Heart, Small Intestine, Urinary Bladder, Kidneys, Pericardium, San Jiao, Gall Bladder, and Liver. The organ meridians are "bi-lateral", meaning that they appear on both sides of the body, and act as a grid through which Qi, or life energy, flows. The organ meridian network organizes all physical and mental processes, and links the structural components of the body. The organ meridians are so named, as many of their functions are similar to the functions of "Western organs", but should not be confused with "Western organs".
Often translated as "Spirit", Shen is the vitality of the individual and may be "seen" in an individual's eyes. Bright, shiny and alive eyes denote a strong Spirit. Dull eyes denote a weak Spirit. A person with Spirit is one whose force is clearly deployed and keenly felt by others. Oriental energetic physiology postulates that each Organ has a particular character, or spirit, of its own: Disturbances of Spirit, or Shen, will denote what we in the West would term behavioral, emotional and psychological disharmonies.
An abbreviation for "Traditional Chinese Medicine". TCM is a complete medical system based on 2000+ years of observation and experience. It encompasses diet, exercise, massage (especially Tui Na, Shiatsu, and other forms of Asian Bodywork Therapy), Acupuncture, and Herbal Medicine. More specifically, Traditional Chinese Medical theory was generated from ideas about nature, and its theories are based on the observation of nature and natural phenomena.
Literally translated as "the sunny side of the mountain", Yang is one of the two fundamental polar forces that organise the universe. Yang manifests as form, light, warmth, and activity. It includes the functional activity of the body, and the generation of metabolic heat. The lack of Yang energy manifests in Cold and Dampness. The Yang Organs transform matter, liberate essence, transport substance and discharge waste. The Yang Organs are the Gall Bladder (receives and releases bile), the Small Intestines (receives and transports digestate), the Stomach (receives, ripens, and transforms food and fluids), the Large Intestines (receives and releases solid waste), and the Bladder (receives and releases liquid waste).
Literally translated as "the shady side of the mountain", Yin is one of the two fundamental polar forces that organise the universe. Yin manifests as substance, darkness, coldness, and quiescence. It includes the material substance of the body, which includes tissue, blood, fluid, and internal secretions. The lack of Yin energy manifests as Heat and Dryness. The Yin Organs (Spleen, Lungs, Heart, Kidneys, and Liver) store the Vital Substances (Qi, Blood, Fluids, Jing, and Shen). For the specific functions of the Yin Organs, please see "The Organ Meridians Functions and Dysfunctions" under "Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM)".