Acupuncture Meridian System

The Theory of traditional Chinese meridians of acupuncture mentions that on the surface and inside the body there is a network of channels called meridians through which the vital energy chi or qi flows.There are twelve paired main channels or meridians and two central unpaired channels. There are also six extra-ordinary channels or meridians but they are not commonly used for diagnosis or treatment.

Twelve paired channels are-six in the upper extremities or arms and six in the lower extremities or legs. Out of these six paired meridians in the arms, three are yin and three are yang meridians. In the same way, in the legs also there are three yin and three yang meridians. In the arms the three yin meridians are called lung (L), pericardium (P), and heart (H) meridians from thumb side to the tittle finger side. They are located on the palmar surface of the arm. On the dorsal or posterior surface of the arm there are three yang meridians. Exactly opposite to lung meridian on the thumb side is the large intestine (LI) meridian. In the center is located triple warmer (TW) or Sanjiao (SJ) meridian which is exactly opposite to the pericardium meridian, and similarly exactly opposite to the heart meridian on the little finger side on the dorsum of the hand is the location for small intestine (SI) meridian.

On the inner side of the leg and thigh there are three yin meridians. They are spleen (Sp), liver (Liv) and kidney (K) meridians. Spleen is on the frontal aspect of inner side, liver in the middle while the kidney meridian is located on the back part of the inner side of the leg. On the front and outer aspect of the leg and thigh three yang meridians are located, out of which stomach meridian is on the front and first on the outer aspect in order. It corresponds to the spleen meridian on inner aspect. Behind the stomach (St) is gall bladder (GB) meridian. It is located in relation to fibula bone and corresponds to the liver meridian of inner aspect. The third one is urinary bladder (UB) meridian which runs on the middle of the back of the thigh and leg.

There are two different channels or meridians through which energy flows. There are two central unpaired channels or meridians. In the midline on the front side is conceptional vessels (CV) meridian also called as Ren meridian which is a yin meridian and on the backside just along the vertebral column in the center is the unpaired meridian called governing vessels meridian (GV) or Du meridian.

Each meridian starts from or ends into a particular internal organ and runs on the surface and makes a complete inner and outer circle to maintain the flow of energy through the particular channel. For instance the lung channel originates from lung and comes on the surface at chest wall and runs on the arm till the tip of the thumb and becomes internal route to get conception with the internal organ and completes the circle. There is also internal connection between the two channels to maintain the energy flow. The yin and yang channels of the same level on the arm or leg have this type of connection and are called ‘coupled or paired channels’.


  • Lung (L) and large intestine (LI)
  • Pericardium (P) and triple warmer (TW)
  • Heart (H) and small intestine (SI)
  • Spleen (Sp) and stomach (St)
  • Liver (Liv) and gall bladder (GB)
  • Kidney (K) and urinary bladder (UB)

are coupled or paired meridians.

Unit of Measurement Used in Acupuncture

Unit of the measuring system used by an acupuncturist is t-sun or cun and it is expressed as a ‘unit’ in proportion to the patient’s body itself. One t-sun is defined as the distance between the palmar creases over the proximal and distal interphalangeal joints of the middle finger of the patient. Breadth of the thumb at its interphalangeal joint is also considered as one t-sun, The combined breadth of the index and middle or the ring and little fingers is 1.5 t-sun. The combined breadth of the four fingers held adjoining is 3 t-sun, the measurement being taken at the level of the proximal interphalangeal joint of the little finger. One Fen is equal to 0.1 t-sun and eight t-suns make one Fu. Because t-sun, Fen and Fu are the terms used in relation to the patient’s own body, the acupuncturist must first compare his t-sun against the patient’s and make proper adjustments in measurements before localizing the points on the patient’s body.

T-Sun Measurement Unit in Acupuncture

List of Acupuncture Meridians

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