The Chinese traditional medicine theory believes that the body is made up of the fundamental substances such as qi

The Chinese traditional medicine theory believes that the body is made up of the fundamental substances such as qi, blood, body fluids, shen which is a Chinese term describes mind, and jing which refers to an essence. (1) Jing-Luo system is a Chinese term that explains the meridians or pathways and collaterals that are distributed throughout the body nourishing each internal zang-fu organs as well as all body tissues. (2) In other words, this system travels and connects the whole body, from the zang-fu organs which are the internal parts of the body to superficial tissues of the body which are the external parts. (3) It also It can be explained that meridians are the pathways of energy that circulates the whole body like the blood vessels of the Western medicine, except the meridians are invisible. (3) There are various acupuncture point groups that are used to treat diseases, such as, the Five Shu points, the Five-Phase points, Yuan-Source points, Luo-Connecting points, and Xi-Cleft.

Jing which refers to the channels or meridians that travel throughout the body vertically at a relatively deep level and interconnects the internal zang-fu organs together. (2) It consists with the twelve primary channels, the eight extraordinary vessels, and the twelve divergent channels. From the eight extraordinary vessels, the Conception Vessel (Ren Mai), and the Governing Vessel (Du Mai) are considered very important vessels because they have independent points and sometimes they incorporate with the 12 primary channels. (4) The remaining 6 vessels do not have their own points instead, they share points from the 14 channels which are known as the Coalescent Points. (2)

The twelve primary channels are the most important meridians of the body and each of the 12 organs are paired corresponding to limbs such as hand and foot, and yin-yang characteristics.

The Twelve Primary Channels includes: (2)

Lung channel of hand taiyin
Large Intestine channel of hand yangming
Bladder channel of foot taiyang
Kidney channel of foot shaoyin
Stomach channel of foot yangming
Spleen channel of foot taiyin
Pericardium channel of hand jueyin
Sanjiao channel of hand shaoyang
Heart channel of hand shaoyin
Small Intestine of hand taiyang
Gall Bladder channel of foot shaoyang
Liver channel of foot jueyin

Through this channel, the fundamental substances such as qi and blood are transported interconnecting the whole body and establishes the interior-exterior relationships of the zang-fu organs. The circulation of qi and blood nourishes and warms all organs and tissues of the body. (2) Also, there is a specific sequence and time frame of the qi flow for every 12 organs, and TCM believes that it will bring the best result treating organ disorders accordingly because it is the time when the qi circulates within the meridian. For example, treat Lung between 3am -5am, or Large Intestine between 5am-7am. (3)

On the other hand, Luo is referred to as collaterals and is located more superficial than the regular 12 channels, extraordinary and divergent channels of Jing. Luo or Collateral consists of 15 Luo-Connecting channels which includes the special Great Luo-Connecting points of the Spleen channel, the Conception Vessel (Ren Mai) and the Governing Vessel (Du Mai). In addition, there are minute collaterals and superficial collaterals which are distributed throughout the body. The function of the Luo-connecting channel is to connect the paired internal and external channels and zang-fu together. For example, Spleen Channel which is Yin channels of foot paired with the Stomach Channel which is Yang channel of the foot. (2)

The channels are located at different layers within the body thus nourishing and energising will occupy differently. One of the important function of the channels is that the channels provide protection of the body from external pathogenic factors such as wind, cold, damp, heat, and dryness. (2) The disease travels from the most superficial level such as skin, and hair, to the middle level and finally to the zang-fu organs. (3) In terms of channels, it will penetrate in order from the most superficial channel which is the cutaneous region, followed by minute collaterals, sinew channel, Luo-connecting channels, primary channels, divergent channels, extraordinary channels, deep pathways of the primary and divergent channels. (2)

Along with the channels explained above, there are many acupuncture point groups used for treating diseases. These points can be used independently or in combination with other point groups, for example, Yuan-source point and Luo-connecting points are usually used together.

The Five Shu points of the 12 primary channels represent the transporting points which are consisted of Jing-well, Ying-Spring, Shu-Stream, Jing-River, and He-Sea. It is considered one of the most important acupuncture point groups and it is a very popular point used in clinics. The points are located around the knee and elbow joints, where the flow of Qi is very active thus it can result in rapid changes in the body. Each of the Five Shu Points is corresponding to five elements, Fire, Earth, Metal, Water, and Wood. (2) One of the main function of the Five Shu points is the transportation of qi within the body. Jing-well represents a rise of qi, Ying-spring represents the descending of qi, shu-stream represents the rushing of qi, jing-river represents the heavy flow of qi and he-sea represents qi entering into a deeper level. (5)

As mentioned above, the Five-Phase points such as fire, earth, metal, water and wood are corresponding in different order for each Yin and Yang meridians. For example, for Yin meridians, Jing-well corresponds to wood, whereas for Yang meridians, Jing-Well corresponds to Metal. (2) Each phase has child point and mother point which are selected to either tonify the mother channel or reduce the child channel of the corresponding zang-fu organs following the generating sequence of the five phases. Tonifying mother channel is referring to the deficiency or depleted situation, whereas reducing child or son channel is referring to the repletion or excessive situations. (2)

The Yuan-Source Points is where the original qi remains. The points exist in each of the twelve primary channels, and the points are located in the wrists or the ankle areas. This point group is very effective in treating internal organ diseases especially with treating sub-acute and chronic disorders of the pertaining organ. (6) Usually, the Yuan-Source point combines with Luo-Connecting points, accompanying each other to treat a disease.

The Luo-connecting point is where the Luo-connecting channel has diverged from the 12 primary channels. In addition to the 12 Luo-connecting points, there are 3 special Luo-connecting points. These are Dabao SP-21 of the Great Luo-Connecting points of the Spleen, the Conception Vessel (Jiuwei REN-15 for Ren Mai) and the Governing Vessel (Chengqiang DU-1 for Du Mai). These 15 Luo-connecting points are used to treat channels or zang-fu organs that are interiorly-exteriorly related, also treat disorders in the area where Luo-connecting channel travels, and diseases relating to psycho-emotional problems. (2)

Xi-Cleft points are known as the ” First Aid Points” or accumulation point because this point is where the qi and blood gathers. This point is used to treat acute pains or diseases mostly relating to the internal organs. (2)

The traditional Chinese medicine has various theories and group acupuncture points that are widely used in the clinics. Jing-Luo system is one of the important theory that communicates and interconnects all body together. It provides a pathway which allows the fundamental substances to travel throughout the body while nourishing the zang-fu organs and all tissues of the body. The treatment for diseases and disorders of internal-external organs are accomplished based on the functions and the relationships of the channels and points.

Reference List

Maciocia G. The foundations of Chinese medicine: A comprehensive text for acupuncturists and herbalists. 2nd ed. London: Churchill Livingstone; 2005.

Deadman P, Al-Khafaji M. A manual of acupuncture. East Sussex: Journal of Chinese Medicine Publications; 2001.

Sacred Lotus. Jing Luo (channels and collaterals | meridians and sub-meridians). Available from: https://www.sacredlotus.com/go/acupuncture/get/acupuncture-channel-theory Accessed 22nd October 2018.

Shen-Nong. What is meridian system? Available from: http://www.shen-nong.com/eng/principles/whatmeridian.html Accessed 22nd October 2018.

Ying Yang House. Five shu theory and applications. Available from: https://theory.yinyanghouse.com/acupuncturepoints/theory_fiveshu Accessed 24th October 2018.

Di L. The twelve Yuan (source) points. Available from: http://www.acupuncture.com/education/theory/yuanpts.htm Accessed 24th October 2018.