Definition: (In acupuncture and Chinese medicine) each of a set of pathways in the body along which vital energy is said to flow. There are twelve such pathways associated with specific organs.
There are 12 major meridians in the body:
- Large intestine
- Small intestine
- Pericardium (circulation/sex)
- Triple Warmer
The Meridian clock is a very useful tool for the diagnosis and treatment of energy imbalances.
The human body has 12 meridians – each meridian complements its opposite meridian.
Each of the 12 meridians flows in an up- or down-wards direction – one flows into the other. Keeping these lines/channels open is very beneficial for good health.
The energy of each organ meridian is strongest for 2 hours in specific cycles, completing a 24-hour cycle every day.
6 meridians are ‘Yin’ in quality and move upwards and 6 are ‘Yang’ and move downwards.
Each meridian comes into its highest action at a certain time of day… this is when its paired meridian at it’s lowest. 12 hours later, the change is complete… with what was down, now at its peak!
Each meridian is influenced by an element or season – there are Five Elements – Water, Wood, Fire, Earth and Metal.
You can become familiar with your body cycles by noticing the changes in the way you feel at different times of the day/night.
The Meridians – General Overview
↓ Stomach Meridian (yang) 7am – 9am
Stomach problems, abdominal pain, distension, edema, vomiting, sore throat, facial paralysis, upper gum toothache, nose bleeding, pain along the meridian
↑ Spleen Meridian (yin) 9am – 11am
Problems of the spleen and pancreas, abdominal distension, jaundice, general weakness and sluggishness, tongue problems, vomiting, pain and swellings along the course of the meridian
↑ Heart Meridian (yin) 11am – 1pm (13:00)
Heart problems, dryness of the throat, jaundice, pain along the course of the meridian
↓ Small Intestine Meridian (yang) 1pm – 3pm (15:00)
Pain in the lower abdomen, sore throat, swelling or paralysis of face, deafness, pain along the meridian
↓ Bladder Meridian (yang) 3pm – 5pm (17:00)
Bladder problems, headache, eye diseases, neck and back problems, pain along the back of the leg
↑ Kidney Meridian (yin) 5pm – 7pm (19:00)
Kidney problems, lung problems, dry tongue, lumbago, edema, constipation, diarrhea, pain and weakness along the course of the meridian
↑ Pericardium Meridian (yin) 7pm – 9pm (21:00)
Poor circulation, angina, palpitation, diseases of the sexual glands and organs, irritability, pain along the course of the meridian
↓ Triple Warmer Meridian – Gland Meridian (yang) 9pm – 11pm (23:00)
Diseases of the thyroid and adrenal glands, ear problems, sore throat, abdominal distension, edema, swelling of cheek, pain along the meridian
↓ Gallbladder Meridian (yang) 11pm – 1am
Gall bladder problems, ear diseases, migraine, hip problems, dizziness, pain along the meridian
↑ Liver Meridian (yin) 1am – 3am
Liver problems, lumbago, vomiting, hernia, urination problems, pain in the lower abdomen and along the course of the meridian
↑ Lung Meridian (yin) 3am – 5am
Respiratory diseases, sore throat, cough, common cold, pain in the shoulder and along the meridian
↓ Large Intestine Meridian (yang) 5am – 7am
Abdominal pain, constipation, diarrhea, sore throat, toothache in the lower gum, nasal discharge and bleeding, pain along the course of the meridian
Spinal problems, mental disorders, fever, nose problems, headaches
Diseases of the urogenital system, hernia, cough, breathing difficulties, breast problems
The lungs are responsible for both respiration and the intake of energy. If an imbalance in the lung meridian occurs it leaves the body open to viral and bacterial infections, as well as perspiration and inflammation issues in the upper parts of the body, problems with the olfactory organs (nose/sense of smell), and adverse skin conditions.
This meridian begins deep in the solar plexus region (middle burner) and descends to meet the large intestine.
Winding up past the stomach, it crosses the diaphragm, divides, and enters the lungs.
It then re-unites, passes up the middle of the windpipe to the throat and divides again, surfacing in the hollow region near the front of the shoulder (LU-1).
From here it passes over the shoulder and down the front of the arm along the outer border of the biceps muscle.
It continues down the forearm to the wrist just above the base of the thumb (LU-9). The channel crosses the height of the thumb muscle to finish at the corner of the thumbnail.
Physical Imbalances: Disorders of the chest, lung, throat and nose
The Lungs are responsible for establishing the foundation of Qi for the entire body. The Lungs house the body’s Seven Emotions and are responsible for self-protection and self-preservation.
Their negative attributes are disappointment, sadness, grief, despair, anxiety, shame and sorrow.
Righteousness, dignity, integrity and high self-esteem
Peak Hours: 3 am – 5 am
Foods: Air… breathe!
Large Intestine Meridian
The large intestine extracts water from waste material and processes it before expelling it. An imbalance of energy in the large intestine meridian is responsible for all abdominal pains. On an emotional level, an imbalance in large intestine energy manifests itself in difficulty with holding on or letting go.
The Large Intestine Meridian is a yang meridian and paired with the Lung Meridian.
It controls the transformation of digestive wastes from liquid to solid state and transports the solids outwards for excretion through the rectum.
It plays a major role in the balance and purity of bodily fluids and assists the lungs in controlling the skin’s pores and perspiration.
This meridian begins by the outside corner of the index fingernail.
It runs along the edge of the finger, between the two tendons of the thumb at the wrist joint and along the outer edge of the arm to the elbow.
It continues to the outside of the shoulder muscle, then crosses the shoulder blade and travels upward over the muscle at the side of the neck to the cheek, passing through the lower gums, then over the top lip.
The large intestine meridian ends beside the nostril.
Paired with the lungs, the large intestine depends on the lungs for movement via the expansion and contraction of the diaphragm, which works like a pump to give impetus to peristalsis by regulating abdominal pressure.
Sluggish bowels may be stimulated by deep diaphragmic breathing and by tonifying lung energy.
Congested lungs and clogged bronchial passages may be cleared by purging the bowels.
Symptoms of abdominal pain, intestinal cramping, diarrhea, constipation and dysentery as well as as disorders of the mouth, teeth, nose and throat.
The Large Intestine meridian is affected by the emotions of sadness, grief, and worry.
An energetic imbalance in the Large Intestine can result in physical weakness and provoke emotional introversion, accompanied by feelings of depression, irritability, discouragement, distress and apathy and low self-esteem
Peak Hours: 5am-7am
The spleen distributes nutrients throughout the body. Because of this it affects muscle and limb tone, controls digestion, and helps regulate the flow of blood within the blood vessels. Energetic imbalances in spleen energy result in: abdominal problems (diarrhea, constipation, bloating), lack of appetite, prolapsed internal organs, weak muscles, and general fatigue. Imbalances in the spleen meridian can also cause brain fog and absentmindedness.
The spleen meridian starts at the tip of the great toe.
From there it runs along the medial aspect of the foot at the junction of the red and white skin.
It continues up the inner leg, up across the groin, the stomach, through the diaphragm.
It connects with the stomach and heart meridian.
This meridian is a yin meridian and is paired with the stomach yang meridian.
Earth element with strong nurturing qualities.
Digestive and stomach problems.
Worry, poor concentration, forgetful-ness, cloudy thought process, addiction, attachment, obsession, gluttony, jealousy, self-pity, strong concern about opinions of others, stubbornness, low self-esteem, poor self image.
Fairness, openness, deep thinking and reminiscence, self esteem
Peak Hours: 9-11 am
All digestive issues can be traced back to the stomach. The stomach’s main responsibility is to digest food, extracting energy from it and distributing that energy to the spleen and intestines. An imbalance in stomach meridian energy can lead to feelings of worry, nervousness, and a lack of acceptance.
The stomach meridian starts at ST1, between the lower eyelid and the eye socket, and runs down the face and loops up to the forehead.
At ST8, it backtracks down across the shoulder, down the ribs, along the stomach, and then down the leg ending at ST45, the outside edge of the second toe.
Stomach Meridian Element:
Earth element with strong nurturing qualities.
Digestive and stomach problems – abdominal pain, distension, edema, vomiting, sore throat, facial paralysis, upper gum toothache, nose bleeding.
Anxiety, worry, skepticism, poor confidence, feelings of suspicion or mistrust.
Fairness, openness and caring.
Peak Hours: 7-9 am
Chakra: Root Chakra
Root Vegetables such as carrots, parsnip, turnips, and all the other types of food that come from the earth.
The heart distributes blood to all the organs in the body. An imbalance of energy in the heart meridian results in chest pains, palpitations, shortness of breath, dizziness, hot flashes/cold sweats, irritability and insomnia. A healthy heart meridian allows for joy and bliss in one’s life, while an imbalance can lead to psychological problems like anxiety, depression, and bipolar disorder.
The heart meridian is a yin meridian and is paired with the Small Intestine meridian.
It reveals itself through the brightness in the eyes, governs Fire and Heat, rules the blood and its vessels and directs circulation – it is the House of the Spirit.
It originates from the heart, emerges and spreads over the heart system, passes through the diaphragm to connect with the small intestine.
The exterior (surface) running part runs to the lung, then turns downward along the arm. It ends in the inner tip of the little finger.
blood, tongue, throat, sweat, facial complexion, adrenals, thyroid, prostate and pituitary gland.
It opens into the tongue and controls speech.
Belonging to the Fire element, the Heart Meridian is associated with warmth, laughter and enthusiasm.
Just as the summer season, associated with the Fire element, brings blossoming and maturing – the flowering of all the seeds planted in the spring – love is the blossoming of the human being. It is indeed who we are in full “bloom”.
Nowhere is such love felt more deeply than in the Heart.
shortness of breath, cold feeling in the chest and limbs, palpitations, cold sweat, inability to speak, memory failure and restless sleep.
The heart is the ruler of all emotions. Signs of imbalance include sadness, absence of laughter, depression, fear, anxiety, hysteria, erratic behavior, alternating joy and melancholy, dullness, yearning for love, jealousy and sorrow.
Tranquility, gentleness, emotional balance, spirit, love, integrity, optimism, emotional and spiritual growth, zest for life, control of thoughts and senses, conscience and wisdom.
Peak Hours: 11 am – 1 pm
Chakra: Heart Chakra
Small Intestine Meridian
The small intestine is responsible for taking nutrients and energy that it has removed from food and distributing them throughout the body. An imbalance of small intestine energy causes poor circulation, weakness in the legs, always feeling cold, swollen lymph glands, sore/stiff shoulders, acne, nerve pain, poor digestion, and stomach distention.
The small intestine meridian is a yang meridian and is paired with the heart yin meridian.
It receives and transforms food by separating the Pure from the Impure, with the Pure becoming bodily fluids and the Impure becoming urine – this function also operates on emotional, mental and spiritual levels.
This meridian is responsible for digestion, water absorption, nutrient absorption and bowel functions.
The Small Intestine Meridian starts from the tip of the little finger and crosses the wrist. It runs upwards along the posterior side of the forearm until it reaches the back of shoulder where it ends at the uppermost part of the back (the bottom of the neck). At this position, it travels externally across the neck and cheek until it reaches the outer corner of the eye and then ends in the ear.
Signs include bluish lips with white border, emaciation, profuse sweating, swellings of nodules, hemicrania, tinnitus, pain around the ear, and pain depressing the abdomen.
A feeling of mental deficiency due to inability to assimilate ideas, and insecurity. Forgetfulness, indecision, unclear thought process. Restlessness and difficulty in expressing emotions.
Healthy expressions are love, joy, warmth, vitality, excitement, memory, ability in making decisions, clarity of thought.
Peak Hours: 1-3 pm
Chakra: Root Chakra – Base Chakra
Root Vegetables such as turnips and celery. Bitter greens (spinach, kale…).
The bladder removes liquid waste from the body. An imbalance in the bladder meridian is responsible for stiffness in the neck and shoulders, headaches, back pains, and all urinary diseases. Emotionally, an imbalance of bladder energy causes feelings of anger and an inability to express emotions.
The Bladder Meridian is a Yang Meridian and is paired with the Yin Kidney Meridian.
This meridian is the longest and most complex meridian.
It starts at the inner portion of the eyelid and travels across the front of the head to the back of the head.
It then forms two branches that travel down the back to the sacrum along the spine. It then goes along the middle of the butt, and then to the back of the thigh.
The two branches then meet behind the knee and travel between the calf along the Achilles tendon to the outside of the foot.
The Bladder Meridian ends at the outside of the baby toe.
Element: Water element
headaches, back problems, or urinary problems including excessive urination and incontinence, pain in the eyes, tearing and colds. See also: 7 Emotions
Lack of energy, being inflexible and fearful – Resisting change and basic negative attitude are also expressions of Bladder Meridian imbalance.
When Balanced: Hopeful, looking forward, calm and peaceful
Peak Hours: 3 pm -5 pm
The kidneys store sexual energy. Because of this they also regulate the growth and development of the reproductive system. In addition, the kidneys are also responsible for the production of bone marrow and blood. Therefore, an imbalance in kidney energy causes genital-urinary disorders, as well as backaches, asthma, and tinnitus. On an emotional level the kidney meridian controls willpower, determination, and a person’s ability to cope.
The kidney meridian is a yin meridian (flows upwards), controls the growth and development of bones and nourishes the marrow, which is the body’s source of red and white blood cells.
A weak kidney is therefore a prime cause of anemia and immune deficiency.
In traditional Chinese medicine, the spinal cord and the brain are forms of marrow, and therefore poor memory, inability to think clearly, and backache are all regarded as indicators of impaired kidney function and deficient kidney energy. Read also: Kidney Cleanse
The Kidney meridian’s vitality is reflected externally by the condition of head and body hair and is associated with the entrance hole of the ears.
Tinnitus (ringing ears) is thus a sign of kidney dysfunction.
The kidneys are the seat of courage and willpower, and therefore any impairment in kidney meridian results in feelings of fear and paranoia.
Intense fear can cause involuntary urination, a phenomenon also known to Western medicine. Read also: 7 Emotions
The kidneys are responsible for filtering waste metabolites from the blood and moving them on-wards to the bladder for excretion in urine.
Along with the large intestine, the kidneys control the balance of fluids in the body.
In addition, they regulate the body’s acid-alkaline balance (pH) by selectively filtering out or retaining various minerals. Read also: Detox Diets
The Kidney Meridian is paired with: The Bladder Meridian
Physical Imbalances: Chest pain, asthma, abdominal pain, irregular menstruation, impotence, hernia
Emotional Imbalances: Hysteria, paranoia, depression, fear, loneliness and insecurity
When Balanced: Wisdom, rationality, clear perception, gentleness and self-understanding.
Peak Hours: 5-7 pm
Pericardium (Circulation/Sex) Meridian
The pericardium is the area surrounding the heart. The pericardium protects and lubricates the heart and the pericardium meridian removes excess energy from around the heart. This is important because it disperses energy throughout the body preventing the heart from becoming over-energized.
The Pericardium Meridian (also called ‘Heart Constrictor’ or ‘Circulation-Sex’ Meridian) is a yin meridian and is paired with the Triple Warmer Meridian (also known as the Triple Energizer/Burner Meridian).
This meridian begins in the middle of the chest, at the pericardium.
A branch descends internally through the diaphragm to the upper, middle, and lower burners – Triple Warmer.
From the starting point a branch of the main channel crosses the chest to emerge just outside the nipple.
It then ascends on the surface around the front of the armpit and flows down the arm, through the biceps muscle.
At the elbow crease it passes just to the inside of the biceps tendon, then down the middle of the front of the forearm, between the heart and lung channels to the wrist.
It crosses the middle of the palm to PC8 where it divides. The main channel continues to the outer corner of the middle fingernail.
Known as the ‘King’s Bodyguard’ (in this case… the ‘king’ is the heart), the pericardium meridian is the heart’s protector. It is regarded as a Fire-energy organ.
The pericardium provides the heart with physical protection, its energy also protects the heart from damage and disruption by excessive emotional energies generated by the other organs, such as anger from the liver, fear from the kidneys, and grief from the lungs.
Extreme or long-lasting outbursts of the Seven Emotions disrupt energy balance and can be causes of disease. Without the pericardium to protect it, the heart would be subject to damage from the strong fluctuations in energy caused by emotional ups and downs of the day.
Paired with: Triple Warmer Meridian
Physical Imbalances: Disorders of the heart, chest, stomach and mind
Emotional Imbalances: Difficulty feeling and expressing emotions, depression, aversions, and phobias
When Balanced: Joy, happiness and healthy relationships
Peak Hours: 7 pm – 9 pm
Triple Warmer Meridian
The triple warmer controls the body as a whole. Rather than being responsible for a particular organ system, it controls metabolism, heat/moisture balance, and body temperature. Because the triple warmer is responsible for the whole body, an imbalance in triple warmer energy is associated with a wide range of disorders. An issue with any organ in the body is in some way associated to an imbalance in the triple warmer meridian.
The Triple Warmer Meridian (also known as Sanjiao/Triple Burner/Heater/Energizer) is a yang meridian and is paired with the Pericardium Meridian.
The Triple Warmer Meridian originates from the tip of the ring finger, by the outside corner of the nail, passes between the knuckles of the fourth and fifth fingers, on to the wrist.
From here it ascends between the two bones of the forearm (radius and ulna), through the tip of the elbow, and up the back of the arm to the shoulder.
It moves forward into the chest to connect with the pericardium, the upper burner, the abdomen and the middle and lower burners. Re-emerging from the chest at the collarbone, the meridian ascends the side of the neck and around the back of the ear.
Physical Imbalances: Disorders of the side of the head, ears, eyes and throat as well as diseases involving the regions through which the meridian runs (gallbladder meridian, pericardium meridian, small intestine meridian)
When balanced: Kindhearted, stable mind and emotion of joy
Peak Hours: 9 pm – 11 pm
The liver stores energy and regulates its flow throughout the body. The liver meridian is also responsible for the female sexual cycle and menstruation and the flexibility of tendons and ligaments. And imbalance of liver energy causes menstrual disorders like PMS, dry skin, jaundice, dry eyes, blurred vision, vertigo, stiff joints, and headaches. On and emotional level, an imbalance of energy in the liver meridian results in anger, irritability, depression, and a lack of control and emotional flexibility.
The Liver Meridian is a yin meridianpaired with the Gallbladder Meridian.
It is responsible for filtering, detoxifying, nourishing, replenishing, and storing blood.
It regulates the amount of blood circulating, withdrawing and storing it when resting or sleeping, and releasing it during exercise.
The Liver Meridian starts inside of the big toenail, crosses the top of the foot, passes in front of the inside ankle and up the inner aspect of the leg.
It continues upwards, passes the knee, continues along the inner thigh to the groin and pubic region, where it circulates the external genitals.
It connects with the conception vessel in the lower abdomen and further up enters both the liver and gallbladder.
The meridian then dips into the rib cage, runs up through the throat, opening to the eye, and ends at the crown of the head where it connects with the governing vessel.
Physical Imbalances: Liver function is reflected externally in the condition of finger- and toenails and by the eyes and vision. Blurry vision is often a result of liver malfunction rather than an eye problem.
Emotional Imbalances: The liver governs growth and development, drive and desires, ambitions and creativity.
Obstruction of liver energy can cause intense feelings of frustration, rage, and anger… as well as irritability, resentment, jealousy and depression.
When Balanced: Kindness, compassion, and generosity.
Foods: Leafy Greens… try a liver detox… or/and an all-around detox diet.
The gallbladder is responsible for storing and expelling bile produced by the liver. An imbalance of gallbladder energy causes bloating, liver pains, and a yellow discoloration on the tongue, skin, and in the urine.
The Gallbladder Meridian is a yang meridian and is paired with the Liver Meridian.
This Meridian’s Qi (energy flow) is responsible, among other, for decision making and good judgments, as well as providing courage and initiative.
This meridian begins just outside the outer corner of the eye, turns down towards the ear and then up to the forehead just within the hair line, then descends behind the ear to the corner of the skull.
It then returns to the forehead above the center of the eye and moves down the head to the bottom of the skull.
It continues down the neck to the shoulder, descends the side of the body along the ribs, to the waist and pelvic. It continues down the outside of the leg, to the ankle, ending on the outside of the 4th toe.
Gallbladder Meridian Element: Wood
Physical Imbalances: insomnia – waking up suddenly, very early in the morning and not being able to fall asleep again, tendons, tears, nails, eye diseases, glaucoma, and night blindness, stiff neck, ringing in the ears, dizziness
Emotional Imbalances: timidity, indecision, easily discouraged… and resentment.
When Balanced: courage and initiative, decision making and good judgment, sound sleep, healthy expression and processes of creativity, planning, brainstorming, analysis, and decision-making
Peak Hours: 11pm – 1am
Gallbladder Meridian Foods: ‘Woody foods’ – leafy greens, grains… A great habit to take on, is having a green smoothie (leafy greens + other veggies – juiced or blended) a day! Works wonders!
What’s the Governing Vessel?
The Governing and Conception Vessels are two branches of the same source, and inseparable Yin-and-Yang, front-and-back duality.
These vessels connect the uterus with the kidneys, heart, and brain.
Regulating the Governing and Conception Vessels is a priority in Medical Qigong practice.
Along these vessels, the Yang Fire and Yin Essence flow up and down the body, fusing the Water and Fire energies together (Five Elements Healing).
Water corresponds with the season of Winter
Wood with the season of Spring
Fire with the season of Summer
Earth with the time of the Solstice or Equinox
Metal with the season of Autumn.
This fusion facilitates a Yin and Yang balance throughout the body.
What’s the Conception Vessel?
The Conception vessel, or meridian, plays a major role in Qi circulation, monitoring and directing all of the Yin channels.
It forms a circular entity with the Governing Vessel.
In Qigong society, the Conception Vessel and the Governing Vessel are considered the most important among the Qi channels and vessels, and must be trained first.
Whereas the Governing meridian runs from the tailbone upwards along the mid-line of the back through the vertebrae to the head, this Meridian runs up the anterior (front) of the body, from the pubic area to the mouth.
Ren in Chinese means “direction, responsibility.” Ren Mai, the “Conception Vessel,” has a major role in Qi circulation, monitoring and directing all of the Yin channels (plus the stomach channel). The Conception Vessel is connected to the Thrusting and Yin Linking vessels, and is able to increase the Yin energy of the body. Tbis vessel nourishes the uterus (one of the five ancestral organs) and the whole genital system. It is said in the Nei Jing that the Conception and Thrusting vessels contain both blood and essence (Jing), and both flow up to the face and around the mouth. They contain more blood than essence in men, and thus promote the growth of the beard and body hair. Because women lose blood with their menstruation, they contain proportionately less blood and hence, no beard or body hair.
It was described in the Su Wen that both the Conception and Thrusting vessels control the life cycles every 7 years for women and every 8 years for men. It is the changes taking place in these vessels at those intervals that promote the major alterations in our lives.
In addition, the Conception vessel also controls the distribution and “dispersion” of Guardian Qi all over the abdomen and thorax via numerous small Qi branches (Luo). This vessel also plays an important role in the distribution of body fluids in the abdomen.
In Qigong society, this vessel and the Governing vessel are considered the most important among the Qi channels and vessels, and must be trained first. It is believed that there is usually no significant Qi stagnation in the Conception vessel. However, it is important to increase the amount of Qi you are able to store, which also increases your ability to regulate the Yin channels.
Further links for Meridian & Acupuncture Information:
*Disclaimer: This information is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice. You should not use this information to diagnose or treat a health problem or disease without consulting with a qualified healthcare provider.
Please consult your healthcare provider with any questions or concerns you may have regarding your condition.
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