The 12 Main Meridians

meridian-channelsChinese Medicine 

is based on an intricate system of meridians. These meridians are similar to energy highways or rivers flowing throughout our body. There are 12 main meridians and eight extraordinary/spiritual meridians. The eight extraordinary meridians are spoken about here.



The 12 main meridians are:

  • Lung
  • Large Intestine
  • Stomach
  • Spleen
  • Heart
  • Small Intestine
  • Bladder
  • Kidney
  • Pericardium
  • San Jian (Triple Warmer)
  • Gallbladder
  • Liver

Each meridian is responsible to attend to a specific part of the body, to maintain health and homeostasis, and move qi, blood, or jing (essence). If congested, like a blocked river, the meridian will cause physical, emotional, or spiritual disease. Problems can arise in the meridians when there is a lack of energy (Deficiency of Qi), when there is too much energy because of blockages (Stagnation of Qi), when the quality of the energy is imbalanced (too much or too little Yin or Yang energy), when the flow of the energy is inharmonious (ascending when it should be descending or vice versa), and when there is Stasis of Blood. The purpose of Chinese medicine is to maintain the movement of qi as to invigorate life. Acupoints are used to treat these issues.

The meridians flow from one to another in a specific time frame and sequence. The flow begins at the Lung at 3-5am and ends at the Liver from 1-3am. There are Chinese animals related to each organ as well. The Daoist education at The World Medicine Institute teaches us the importance of the Chinese astrology and treatment strategies based on this ancient art-form.

Main Meridians:

Lung (Fei): Hand Tai Yin. 3-5am. Tiger.

  • governs qi and respiration, responsible for Wei qi (protective qi), regulates water passages/pores/sweat
  • manifests on the skin and body hair; opens to the nose
  • emotion is grief, sadness
  • taste is pungent
  • spirit is the Po (corporeal soul- the soul that goes on after death): deals with reception of life
  • stores phelgm

Large Intestine (Da Chang): Hand Yang Ming. 5-7am. Rabbit.

  • accepts impure food and water, reabsorbs water, makes impure food/water into stool
  • deals with evacuation of life

Stomach (Wei): Foot Yang Ming 7-9am. Dragon

  • accepts and contains food and water
  • rots and ripens food and water and transfers it to small intestine
  • controls descending of Qi
  • origin of body fluids

Spleen (Pi): Foot Tai Yin. 9-11am. Snake

  • governs post-natal qi, creates blood from food, controls blood and keeps it in vessels, controls muscles and limbs, raises qi
  • manifests on the lips; opens to mouth (taste/appetite)
  • emotion is worry/ over-thinking
  • taste is sweet
  • spirit is Yi: thought, capacity to think, extraordinary memory
  • creates phelgm

Heart (Xin): Heart Shaoyin. 11-1pm. Horse.

  • governs blood, blood vessels, and circulation
  • manifests on face/complexion; opens to tongue (speech, talking, laughing)
  • emotion is joy (overjoy/mania)
  • taste is bitter
  • spirit is shen: mind, emotions, consciousness, long-term memory, sleep

Small Intestine (Xiao Chang): Hand Tai Yang. 1-3pm. Goat.

  • receive food and transforms; separates clean from dirty
  • responsible for mental clarity and discernment (physical and emotional)

Bladder (Pangguang): Foot Tai Yang. 3-5pm. Monkey.

  • contains body fluids, excretes urine

Kidney (Shen): Foot Shaoyin. 5-7pm. Rooster.

  • governs birth, growth, development, reproduction, death
  • ming men life gate regulates fire for all internal organ, functions, and willpower
  • produces marrow, fills up brain, controls bones; responsible for memory, concentration, thinking, physical and mental strength
  • manifests on head hair; opens to ears
  • emotion is fear
  • spirit is Zhi: will power
  • root of original qi

Pericardium: Hand Jueyin. 7-9pm. Dog.

  • governs blood
  • houses shen and protects heart
  • influences mental and emotional states, helps influence relationship with others
  • ambassador of/creator of joy and happiness

Triple Warmer (San Jiao): Hand Shaoyang. 9-11pm. Pig.

  • governs irrigation of upper, middle, and lower jiaos (breath, digestion, excretion)
  • similar to the lymphatic system

Gallbladder (Dan): Foot Shaoyang. 11-1am. Rat.

  • stores and excretes bile for digestion
  • controls sinews; provides qi for movement
  • gives courage and strength to make decisions
  • controls quality of sleep (good sleep vs nightmares)

Liver (Gan): Foot Jueyin. 1-3am. Ox.

  • stores and regulates blood; regulates menses
  • maintains free flow of qi
  • controls sinews and tendons: provides blood for movement
  • manifests on nails; opens to eyes
  • emotion is anger
  • spirit: Hun: influences capacity of life/decision planning; if not rooted will have floating feeling or fear before sleep


Meridian Circuit
































There are many theories on the meridians. Some suggest it has an astrological basis, others notate that the treatment follows a farmer’s almanac, and in a conversation with a teacher and musician friend, we have found the meridians have a similar resonance to the significance of 12 music notes. Of note, the character music (yuè 樂) is almost the same as medicine (yào 藥). Being a Chinese medicine physician is similar to that of being a jazz musician- there is a structureless structure of getting rid of a disease; there are suggested points but it all comes down to being present in the moment with your patient, and listening to what the body needs to tell you.

Here is an excerpt of one theory from Feng Mei: “Ancient Chinese found and made 12 longitudes and latitudes on the earth to locate the earth condition on the earth map, the same, put them on the sky to locate the star system on the sky map. And they found the human body also has the same meridian system, 12 meridians and Dai meridians, the meridians system is for locate the acupuncture points on body, shows the human body’s energy field condition. The star energy move in the sky like the Qi move in body’s meridian system from point to point, they have certainly orbits. To coordinate the body’s energy movement to sky stars energy movement can help body health condition, because in TCM theory, there is a sentence said: sky and human is one unite (天人合一), that mean human body energy system is same as universe energy system, same move steps, if the body qi movement go upset or blocked not follow the same steps of universe stars movement orbits, the human body will be sick, so the acupuncture is through stimulate the points on body meridian system, to adjust the Qi movement cooperate to the universe energy frequency for body health.”

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