Acupuncture and Meridian Circuit Syst...

Acupuncture and Meridian Circuit Systems

Posted in the Acupuncture Forum

James Spears

Uthai Thani, Thailand

#1 May 16, 2011
The following is an excerpt from my newly published book: "Meridian Circuit Systems: A Channel Based Approach to Pattern Identification."

A meridian based approach to acupuncture therapy seems like a standard necessity; however, the most common forms of pattern identification are not based on methods that emphasize the associations between the channels. While selecting meridians and points are part of any treatment strategy, emphasis is first placed on syndrome differentiation, and secondly on determining appropriate channels and points. This is a core foundation of Chinese medicine that allows acupuncturists to address root imbalances that underlie symptomatic expressions.

If we examine the most popular methods of syndrome differentiation we will find that they are based on symptoms that are grouped according to exogenous factors, the 5-elements, or the zang-fu organs. Although it is common to identify symptoms along meridians, it is less common to actually base pattern identification on a method that works almost exclusively with the relationships that exist between the channels. For instance, if a patient suffers from a headache in the temples one may conclude that the GB meridian is involved. After this it is common for the clinician to think in terms of zang-fu or 5-element imbalances; the headache may be identified as a liver yang pattern, or an excess of fire or wind, and this depends on what other symptoms are present. It is less common for the clinician to think in terms of the temple headache as being a symptomatic expression in the foot shao yang channel, and then arriving at a treatment strategy that is based on the GB meridians connection to the SJ, LV, and HT channels.

Though a clinician that uses zang-fu or 5-element methods of differentiation may ultimately use some of the same channels, their process of determining these meridians is different than someone that uses a channel based approach to pattern identification. The meridian based approaches that I speak of have been cited by several sources including the Nei Jing, the Shang Han Lun, Dr. Richard Tan, Master Tung, and Dr. Wei-Chei Young.

A channel based approach to acupuncture takes as its starting point the relationships that exist between the meridians according to their classical Chinese names, such as the connection between the hand and foot tai yang channels. Meridian based approaches also utilize the horary cycle, and recognize not only the time designations, but also the way in which qi moves sequentially through the circuit of the twelve regular meridians.

After using a meridian based approach to syndrome differentiation and treatment for many years, I have found that this method helps to clearly define the most pertinent patterns of disharmony that are present.

For more information about the book "Meridian Circuit Systems," visit

With Healing Qi,
James Spears
Director, Integrative Healing Society

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