Photo: Getty Images
According to traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), the meridians in the human body are invisible energy pathways forming a network over which qi (pronounced "chee") travels. Qi is considered to be our life force or vital energy.
The traditional Chinese medicine understanding of qi is more multi-faceted than just energy. It includes intelligence or information.
Traditional Chinese medicine posits that there are 12 major meridians. Each meridian's qi is at its strongest during a particular interval of two hours each day. Each day qi moves through the cycle, via the meridians in a manner called the Meridian Clock.
Each of the 12 meridians is linked with an element and organ system. The meridians are believed to feed and support each cell, every tissue, as well as all muscles and organ systems of the body.
In traditional Chinese medicine, there are believed to be additional meridians known as Eight Extraordinary Meridians which are said to be the first and foundational meridians created in the womb.
These are said to carry yuan qi, ancestral energy which would be similar to Western understanding of inherited genetics, traits that run in the family. The 12 major meridians are supplied by the eight extraordinary meridians with blood and qi, to support our DNA.
Meridians are considered in TCM to be messaging systems for the body. When the flow of qi is unhindered, different organs, areas and systems of the body communicate with each other. Along with the transmission of information, meridians also transport healing energy to the areas of the body that need it.
If the flow of qi is unhampered, the body, mind, spirit and emotions will be in balance and good health. If the flow of qi is obstructed in any area of the meridians, problems will then arise in the body.
Disruptions of the flow of qi are believed to cause physical problems like pain, stiffness and disease, emotional problems like anxiety and depression, and mental problems like brain fog and other cognitive dysfunctions.
Meridians carry qi and blood. They allow yin and yang to circulate, and they bring healing energy to areas of the body that need it.