6 Meridian Systems
In Tung style acupuncture it is essential to understand the six meridian systems. These systems relate to structural anatomy, body geometry, fascial connections, and Traditional Chinese Medicine concepts. While much has been written about the classical Chinese theories, there is much to discover about how these six systems relate to biomedicine, anatomy and physiology.
The six systems were made standardized by Dr. Richard Tan and his Balance Method.
The first system is the classical pairing of meridians based on their names and structural position. For instance, the tai yang meridians refer to the SI and UB channels, both of which transverse the posterior regions of the body and limbs.
This pairing of the SI and UB meridians, referred to as the tai yang, may also be understood in anatomy as a structural and functional relationship between fascial lines and muscle groups of the posterior body.
The SI meridian travels along the posterior portion of the arm, and represents the Deep Back Arm Line (DBAL) in fascial line anatomy. Similarly, the UB meridian travels along the posterior portion of the neck, back, and legs. In fascial plane anatomy we may refer to the UB meridian as the Superficial Back Line (SBL)
Tai Yang Meridians & Fascial Lines
Tensegrity = Tension + Integrity
Tensegrity refers to a system of compressed parts that are held with a net of tension. In the body the connective tissue and fascia function like a net that binds the muscles, bones, and organs together.
Inflammation and organic disorders can create tension in the connective tissues and result in referred pain and myo-fascial patterns . For instance, hepatitis can result in right side shoulder pain in the trapezius and GB21 area.
The traditional meridians and fascial lines represent structural features that help us to understand referred pain and the benefits of distal needling.
These images come from the book Anatomy Trains by Tom Myers. In his breakthrough research on fascia and connective tissue, Myers explains how various muscles are bound together in structural and functional fascial lines.
The images also demonstrate a high degree of overlap with the tai yang meridians and can help us to understand principles of Master Tung's acupuncture. For instance, the points 77.01 - 77.04 are located on the achilles tendon and are used for occipital headaches, neck pain, cervical spine conditions, hydrocephalus, and brain disorders.
Following the SBL fascia while understanding tensegrity, and needle propagation, allows us to comprehend how needling the achilles tendon can benefit the neck, occiput, and head.
Meridians and Fascial Lines
As we can see in the above images there is a high degree of similarity with the traditional meridians and fascial lines. In understanding the channels from a connective tissue perspective, we can establish an anatomical basis for the meridians.
Additionally, the research presented in Anatomy Trains also gives us insight into distal needling, contralateral needling, and other aspects of Master Tung acupuncture methods.
In comparing meridians to fascial lines, we can come to understand the internal organ connections with interior and exterior body structures. The fascial lines present a structural map for the meridians, internal organs and various systems.
The chart below is of the 6 Meridian Systems described in the Balance Method. From a traditional perspective it relates the meridians spatially through body geometry, physiological functions, and temporally through the horary cycle.
We can also apply biomedicine and fascial line models to understand these 6 systems. In my Master Tung and Fascial Planes course, I elucidate the associations with the fascial lines and Tung's most useful points.
The chart below summarizes the 6 Systems from Dr. Tan.