Meridians In Acupuncture Chinese Energy Meridians

Understanding energy meridians in acupuncture requires learning about some of the theories fundamental to traditional Chinese medicine (TCM).

Qi and Acupuncture Meridians

The foundation of TCM is Qi. The Western translation of Qi is “energy,” although that definition does not do the term full justice. Not only is Qi an energy that keeps the body alive and functioning, Qi also lets all parts of the body communicate with each other.

According to TCM, Qi flows through the body on pathways called meridians. When Qi is flowing freely through the energy meridians, a person remains healthy. However, blockages can form, for reasons ranging from injury to environmental factors, cutting off the flow of energy and leading to ill health. The goal of acupuncture is to remove the blockages so that the body can then heal itself.

Acupuncture Meridians and Points

The body has 12 major “acupuncture meridians.” Points on the meridians correspond to specific places in the body. Sometimes, these acupuncture points are distant from the areas that they affect. For example, an acupuncturist may stimulate a point in the foot to affect an area in the upper body, because some of the meridians run from head to toe.

The 12 meridians and their two-letter designations are:

  • Bladder Meridian (BL or UB)
  • Gall Bladder Meridian (GB)
  • Heart Meridian (HT or HE)
  • Kidney Meridian (KI)
  • Large Intestine Meridian (LI)
  • Liver Meridian (LV)
  • Lung Meridian (LU)
  • Pericardium Meridian (P or PC)
  • Small Intestine Meridian (SI)
  • Spleen Meridian (SP)
  • Stomach Meridian (ST)
  • Triple Warmer (TW, TB, SJ).

The body also has other meridians that are less often used as meridians in acupuncture, although acupuncturists do often use points on the “Conception Vessel” and the “Governing Channel” meridians.

Each meridian has a specific number of acupuncture points, ranging from nine on the Heart Meridian to 67 on the Bladder Meridian. A properly trained acupuncturist takes a full health history, asking about many aspects of your life, to determine which points may be the best for treating your condition. Often, the results of acupuncture are not immediate but occur in the days after treatment, as the restored energy flow allows the body to heal.


Dupuis, C. (2006). Acupuncture meridian pathways