The 8 Extraordinary Meridians & Anatomy
The Tai Yang Channels: SI 3, UB 62, Du and Yang Qiao Meridians
It is valuable to consider the anatomical relationships of the eight extra meridians. Clearly the Du Mai (Governor Meridian) is associated with the spine, but the anatomy of the other meridians is less obvious.
By reflecting on the ways in which the confluent points are paired, such as SI 3 and UB 62, we can come to understand an anatomical framework for these meridians.
The pairing of the small intestine and urinary bladder meridians as the tai yang channels has a close relationship to the spine. Additionally, the muscle groups and fascia associated with these meridians lay in the deeper levels.
The small intestine meridian is very similar to the myofascial group called the Deep Back Arm Line (DBAL). This fascial line includes the rhomboids and levator scapulae muscles, both of which attach to the spine. Needling an acupuncture point like small intestine 3 (SI3) has the capacity to send mechanical and neurological signals to the region of the upper back and neck where these muscles attach.
We can also see from the image that the urinary bladder meridian is associated with the Superficial Back Line (SBL). The point urinary bladder 62 (UB 62) is located under the lateral malleolus, and is the confluent point for the yang qiao meridian. When we pair SI 3 and UB 62 we are effecting the areas where the myofascial lines converge. Similarly, these points will effect the DBAL and SBL to create the therapeutic benefits these points are known for.
The Shao Yang Channels: SJ 5, GB 41, Yang Wei and Dai Mai Meridians
The gallbladder meridian is associated with the lateral side of the body, and the confluent point of the Dai Mai (Belt Meridian) is GB 41. The belt meridian is said to wrap around the waist area much like a belt.
From a myofascial perspective the GB meridian is associated with what is called the Lateral Line, as can be seen in the image. This fascial line includes the transverse abdominis, IT band. and lateral leg muscles.
One of the functions of the lateral line is to integrate the functions of the front and back myofascial lines. The lateral line binds the anterior and posterior muscle groups together, serving a belt like function.
The acupuncture point GB 41 is paired with SJ 5 which is located on the lateral side of the arm, and associated with the Superficial Back Arm Line (SBAL). The lateral line and superficial back arm line converge in the neck and shoulders. Understanding these myofascial meeting points helps to explain why SJ 5 and GB 41 can be a powerful point combination for temple headaches, neck and back pain, and more.
PC 6, SP 4, Yin Wei and Chong Mai Meridians
The acupuncture point spleen 4 (SP 4) is the confluent point for the Chong meridian which is said to originate in the lower pelvis. Many of the spleen points are on the Deep Front Fascial Line (DFL) which includes the deep pelvic muscles and fascia.
Points like SP 4 and SP 6 are often used for gynecological conditions and are effective for menstrual disorders and infertility. The DFL reveals a myofascial line between SP 4 and the deep pelvic tissues.
Additionally, the three leg yin meridians of the spleen, kidney and liver are all located on this line and share similar functions. For instance, kidney 6 (KI 6) is also used for disorders of the pelvis and lower jiao, and can be used for a variety of gynecological conditions.
Anatomically, the DFL includes the muscles tibialis posterior, flexor digitorum longus and flexor hallicus longus. The picture below shows how the tendons of tibialis posterior & flexor hallicus longus pass through the area of KI 6, and that the flexor hallicus longus tendon extends to the region of SP 4. This provides a myofascial explanation for how these points have similar functions and relate to the Chong Mai and Yin Qiao meridians.
SP 4, KI 6 and DFL Tendons
Other acupuncture points on the DFL will also act on the pelvis, lower jiao, abdomen and internal organs. As the DFL includes the deep pelvic structures and internal organ fascia, we can expect points on the liver, kidney and spleen meridians to have similar functions for internal medicine.
For instance, needling SP 6, SP 7 and SP 9 has a powerful effect on the DFL and can be used for a wide variety of menstrual disorders. This point combination alone is often sufficient for period pain, PMS, pelvic inflammatory disease and more.
KI 6, LU 7, Yin Qiao and Ren Mai Meridians
The pairing of KI 6 and LU 7 influences the deep front fascial line (DFL) as well as the superficial front arm line (SFAL). Lung 7 is the confluent point for the Ren Mai which begins in the lower abdomen and extends up the front midline of the body. This connection between the lung meridian and lower abdomen is more difficult to understand, but we can also trace out myofascial and anatomical relationships between the arms, abdomen and back.
Traditionally, when we needle points for the 8 extraordinary meridians, we needle them on the opposite side. For instance, one could needle KI 6 on the left foot and LU 7 on the right hand. This method of needling points on the opposite side has wide ranging applications, and is used in many style of acupuncture.
Kidney 6 and LU 7 are challenging points to needle as there is a lot of bony structures and small tendons in these point areas. Do you know the best way to stimulate these points and get the best results?