The meridian system, also called channel network, is a term associated with Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) that refers to the channels through which the body’s vital energy (qi or chi) flows. There are a total of 361 meridians located throughout the body (or vessel), and they are thought to have branches that directly connect to bodily organs and functions. Acupuncture and acupressure use acupoints along these pathways to help with healing, relaxing, and strengthening the body.
There are 12 Principal Meridians, divided into Yin and Yang groups. The Yin meridians of the arm are lung, heart and pericardium, and the Yin meridians of the leg are spleen, kidney and liver. The Yang meridians of the arm are large intestine, small intestine and triple burner, whereas the Ying meridians of the leg are stomach, bladder and gall bladder.
Though acupuncture and acupressure are gaining popularity in the health sector, there are many criticisms of TCM and meridian theory. Science Based Medicine has this critique: “TCM is a pre-scientific superstitious view of biology and illness, similar to the humoral theory of Galen, or the notions of any pre-scientific culture. It is strange and unscientific to treat TCM as anything else. Any individual diagnostic or treatment method within TCM should be evaluated according to standard principles of science and science-based medicine, and not given special treatment."
However, despite the criticism, acupuncture and acupressure are increasingly becoming standard in the medical world. The methods are often used in conjunction with modern medicine and now have the name complimentary or alternative medicine.