Meridians and Connective Tissue Planes | Damian McCleod Acupuncture

Meridians and Connective Tissue Planes

Original PDF available at: https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/epdf/10.1002/ar.10185

Relationship of Acupuncture Points and Meridians to Connective Tissue Planes

Acupuncture meridians traditionally are believed to constitute channels connecting the surface of the body to internal organs. We hypothesize that the network of acupuncture points and meridians can be viewed as a representation ofthe network formed by interstitial connective tissue. This hypothesis is supported by ultrasound images showing connective tissue cleavage planes at acupuncture points in normal human subjects. To test this hypothesis, we mapped acupuncture points in serial gross anatomical sections through the human arm. We found an 80% correspondence between the sites of acupuncture points and the location of intermuscular or intramuscular connective tissue planes in post mortem tissue sections. We propose that the anatomical relationship of acupuncture points and meridians to connective tissue planes is relevant to acupuncture’s mechanism of action and suggests a potentially important integrative role for interstitial connective tissue. Anat Rec (New Anat) 269:257–265, 2002.© 2002 Wiley-Liss, Inc

INTRODUCTION

During acupuncture treatments, fineneedles traditionally are inserted at specific locations of the body known as acupuncture points. According to classic Chinese theory, acupuncture points are linked together in a net-work of “meridians” running longitu-dinally along the surface of the body(Figure 1). Despite considerable efforts to understand the anatomy and physiology of acupuncture points and meridians, the definition and characterization of these structures remains elusive (NIH Consensus Statement,1997). The goal of this article is to present evidence supporting a conceptual model linking traditional Chinese acupuncture theory with conventional anatomy. We hypothesize that the network of acupuncture points andmeridians can be viewed as a representation of the network formed by

Despite considerable efforts to understand the anatomy and physiology of acupuncture points and meridians, the definition and characterization of these structures remains elusive.

interstitial connective tissue and that this relationship is relevant to acupuncture’s therapeutic mechanism.

TRADITIONAL CONCEPTS

Acupuncture meridians are traditionally thought to represent “channels” through which flows “meridian qi” (Kaptchuk, 2000). Although the con-cept of meridian qi has no known physiological equivalent, terms usedin acupuncture texts to describe the more general term “qi” evoke dy-namic processes such as communication, movement, or energy exchange (O’Connor and Bensky, 1981). Disruption of the meridian channel network is believed to be associated with disease, and needling of acupuncture points isthought to be a way to access and influence this system (Cheng, 1987).