Meridians are the representation of the nervous system. The peripheral neurovascular bundles literally validate the TCM concept that Blood and Qi (energy) flow in the meridians.
A neuroanatomical basis for the Principal meridians provides the only plausible mechanism of how acupuncture styles that utilize subcutaneous needling (Japanese style) could produce physiologic effects, or how acupuncture subsystems, such as auricular or scalp acupuncture, could work. Stimulation of a location anywhere on the dermatomal-, myotomal-, and/or peripheral-nerve distribution that corresponds to a meridian would produce clinical effects of the acupuncture points in that location (whether a cutaneous nerve branch or a deeper major nerve trunk was stimulated). This will have implications for acupuncture research, and particularly for what will constitute appropriate placement and method of placebo stimulation.
The ∼5000-year-old TCM tradition as described in the Nei Jing more than 2000 years ago provides a wealth of information on the use of acupuncture to treat physical, psychologic, and spiritual maladies.The present study, by demonstrating an actual anatomic basis for the acupuncture meridians through embryologic and adult anatomic analyses, may literally serve as a neuroanatomic basis to allow translation of 2000+-year-old concepts into modern anatomical and physiologic terms. This, in turn, would allow ∼5000 years of clinical experience in using endogenous mechanisms to treat and potentially reverse disease processes to be utilized in contemporary clinical practice. The potential of these findings to reduce and possibly prevent human suffering as well as providing new, cost-effective methods of health care is enormous.
Examination of the neuro embryologic development
of the head and neck region serves to reveal anatomical correspondences of the cranial nerves, peripheral nerves, and acupuncture Principal meridians there.
“It is because of the twelve primary channels that people live, that disease is formed, that people are treated, and disease arises.” —Spiritual Axis of the Nei Jing, ∼200 bc
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