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In this section, we will discuss how acupuncture is used, and why it works. Since Qigong exercises and Qi circulation theory are based on the results of acupuncture research, this summary will help you understand the theory of Qigong exercises.

In order to understand acupuncture, you should know what Jing ( & ) and Luo ( & ) are. Then you should understand their function in the body, and their relationship to health.

Jing and Luo are the Qi channels that connect the inside of the body to the surface of the body, and connect the internal organs to each other. They correspond with the vascular system with its arteries, veins, and capillaries. Jing are the primary Qi channels which distribute Qi in the body. Usually, Jing are found under a thick layer of muscle, and so are protected from external influence, the same way the arteries and main nerves are. There are twelve Jing which connect the internal organs with the rest of the body.

Luo are the minor or secondary Qi channels which connect the Jing to the surface of the body and also to the bone marrow. Jing and Luo are considered to be Qi rivers and streams in the body.

In addition to Jing and Luo, there are eight vessels which serve as balancing channels and are considered to be Qi reservoirs in the body. Some of these vessels also circulate Qi, although their function is different from Jing and Luo. Their function is to regulate the amount of Qi flow in the twelve channels. Among these eight vessels the Ren (Conception Vessel, and Du

(Governing Vessel, ^Afr) are most important. As you remember from earlier chapters, these two vessels play a primary role in Small and Grand Circulation.

Acupuncture theory classifies the internal organs as viscera and bowels. According to this theory, viscera are the organs that store essential substances for the body's use. The viscera are the lungs, kidney, liver, heart, spleen, and pericardium (Baoluo, &&). The bowels are organs which do not store substances, but eliminate them, being essentially hollow. The bowels are the large intestine, gall bladder, urinary bladder, small intestine, stomach, and triple burner (Sanjiao, â ft ). Viscera are Yin, and bowels are Yang, and they are grouped in pairs which are closely related to each other. It is important to note that in Chinese medicine, the term "organ" refers more to the functional system of that organ than to the actual physical lump of flesh. Hence, two of the organs in the Chinese system, the pericardium and the triple burner, have no corresponding organ in the Western system.

In classifying Qi channels, there are six degrees of Yin and Yang used to describe the six channels that terminate in the hands and the six that end in the feet. The Yin channels are Taiyin Shaoyin and Jueyin (JRfc).

Taiyin is the very strongest most vigorous Yin. Shaoyin contains some Yang, and Jueyin is exhausted Yin and is found where two Yin channels meet. The Yang channels are Taiyang ( A fa ), Shaoyang ( ■}- fa), and Yangming ( fa ). Taiyang is very strong, young Yang. Shaoyang is Yang that has begun to deteriorate, and Yangming is extreme Yang, and is found where two Yang channels meet.

In Yin and Yang theory, Yang is characterized by the outside of things, while Yin is the inside. In consonance with this principle, the twelve channels are considered Yin or Yang depending on whether they are found on the inside or on the outside of the arms or legs. There are three Yin channels on the inside of each arm and leg, and three Yang channels on the outside. Of the two main vessels that make up Small Circulation, the Ren Mai (Conception Vessel, is found on the front of the body and is considered Yin. The Du Mai (Governing Vessel, 's found on the back, and is considered Yang.

Qi circulates within this system of channels and vessels continuously, from the surface to the interior and back to the surface. The paths of the channels are as follows:

Upper Limb—Yin Jing (fi Q), movement is from the chest to the hand.

Hand Taiyin Lung (Shou Taiyin Fei Jing, -f- » ). Runs from the top of the chest, along the inside of the arm, and ends on the outside of the thumb.

Hand Shaoyin Heart (Shou Shaoyin Xin Jing, + •? fitRuns from the armpit, down the inside arm, and ends in the little finger.

Hand Jueyin Pericardium (Shou Jueyin Baoluo Jing, -f * fc fe & ft).

Starts in the chest, runs up the chest, then down the middle of the inner arm and ends at the middle finger.

Upper Limb—Yang Jing (fa M), movement is from the hand to the head.

Hand Taiyang Small Intestine (Shou Taiyang Xiao Chang, -f fa 'F fa ). Starts at the end of the little finger, then runs up the outside of the arm, behind the shoulder, across the neck, and ends in front of the ear.

Hand Shaoyang Triple Burner (Shou Shaoyang San Jiao, -f '>* fa-=- ft). Starts at the tip of the ring finger, then runs up the outside of the arm, around the shoulder, over the ear, and ends near the outside of the eyebrow.

Hand Yangming Large Intestine (Shou Yangming Da Chang, -?-fa 91*. fa). Starts at the tip of the index finger, runs along the outside of the arm, and ends near the nose.



Four Season Jing Five Elements
Figure 4-6. Relationships of Five Internal Organs with the Five Elements

Lower Limb—Yin Jing (fi movement is from the foot to the chest.

Foot Taiyin Spleen (Zu Taiyin Pi, & k fi # ). Starts at the tip of the big toe, runs up the inside of the leg, and ends at the top of the chest.

Foot Shaoyin Kidney (Zu Shaoyin Shen, & '>" fi fr ). Starts under the little toe, rises along the inside of the leg, and ends near the collarbone.

Foot Jueyin Liver (Zu Jueyin Gan, & ). Starts on the outside of the big toe, then the inside of the leg, up the trunk, and ends near the nipple.

Lower Limb—Yang Jing (ft«), movement is from the head to the foot.

Foot Taiyang Bladder (Zu Taiyang Pang Guang, k fh f& ftt). Starts at the inner corner of the eye, runs over the head, splits and runs in two channels down the back, joins on the back of the thigh and ends on the little toe.

Foot Shaoyang Gall Bladder (Zu Taiyang Dan, '¿"fa ^ ). Starts at the outer corner of the eye, travels over the head, around the back of the shoulder, down the side of the chest and the outside of the leg, and ends in the fourth toe.

Foot Yangmlng Stomach (Zu Yangming Wei, & M W ff ). Starts under the eye, runs clown the front of the body, then down the outer front of the leg, and ends up in the second toe.

Jing are connected with one another at the extremities, where Yin meets Yang, and at the chest and face, where Yin meets Yin and Yang meets Yang (see Table 4-2). For the purposes of this table, the circuit starts above the nipples, moving through the channels in the order shown. Remember that there are two symmetrical systems, one on each side of the body.

Table 4-2

Order of Qi Circulation

Table 4-2

Order of Qi Circulation




Time Period

Top of Chest

Outside of Thumb

Hand Taiyin Lung

3 to 5 am (Yin. * 1

Tip of Index

Side of Nose

Hand Yangming

5 to 7 am (Mao. ff |


Large Intestine

Under the Eye

Second Toe

Foot Yangming Stomach

7 to 9 am (Chen. & )

Big Toe

Top of Chest

Foot Taiyin Spleen

9 to 11 am (Si. e- )


Little Finger

Hand Shaoyin Heart

1 1 am to 1 pm (Wu, 4"

Little Finger

Front of Ear

Hand Taiyang

1 to 3 pm (Wei. )

Small Intestine

Inner Corner of Eye

Little Toe

Foot Taiyang Bladder

3 to 5 pm (Shen. + )

Little Toe


Foot Shaoyin Kidney

5 to 7 pm (Oiu, * )


Middle Finger

Hand Jueyin Pericardium

7 to 9 pm (Shu. A. )

Ring Finger

Outside of Eyebrow

Hand Shaoyang

9 to 11 pm (Haï. t )

Triple Burner

Outside Corner

Fourth Toe

Foot Shaoyang Gall Bladder

1 1 pm to 1 am (Zi. ■? )

of the Eye

Outside of Big Toe

Side of Nipple

Foot Jueyin Liver

1 to 3 am (Chou, « )

Acupuncture theory also relates the organs to the five elements (Wuxing, it): metal (Jin, £ ), wood (Mu, ), water (Shui, *■), fire (Huo, ), and earth (Tu, i ). These relationships are shown in Table 4-3 and Figure 4-6. The five element theory is used to describe how organ systems influence each other through constructive and destructive sequences.

Table 4-3

Relationship of Internal Organs with the Elements

Table 4-3

Relationship of Internal Organs with the Elements

Five Elements






Mutual Fire

Yang Channels


Hand Yangming



Hand Shaoyang


Large Intestine


Small Intestine


Triple Burner

Yin Channels


Hand Taiyin

Foot Shaoyin

Foot Jueyin

Hand Shaoyin

Foot Taiyin

Hand Juym








From the Qi circulation and its relationship to the environment, the Chinese physicians found that a healthy person should not be too Yin or too Yang. When a person is ill, the acupuncturist will use needling or a few other methods to regulate the Qi flow and bring the person back to health. You should understand that it is not only the cavities lying on the channel corresponding to the afflicted organ that are used. Since the channels are interconnected and affect each other in various ways, cavities throughout the body are used to rebalance particular organs. To do this, an acupuncturist must understand the relation of Qi flow to the seasons and the time of day, as well as the interrelationship of the channels.

In the case of non-organ problems, such as muscle pain or a joint injury, the acupuncturist will usually needle cavities near the injury which are not on the channels (remember, almost half the known cavities are not located on channels). This kind of treatment will increase the Qi circulation in the injured area and remove the stagnant Qi.

This has been only the briefest of introductions to the principles of acupuncture. The author hopes that you are able to gain a basic knowledge of Qi circulation. If you are interested in further research, there are many books available. The following are suggested:

The Theoretical Foundation of Chinese Medicine Systems of Correspondence, by Manfred Porkert, MIT Press, Cambridge, Massachusetts and London, 1978.

Acupuncture—A Comprehensive Text, Shanghai College of Traditional Medicine. Translated and edited by John O'Connor and Dan Bensky, Eastland Press, Chicago, 1981.

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Yin Yang Balance

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