The Five Energy Channels of Classical Acupuncture
and their Selection

Classical Acupuncture recognizes and encompasses the comprehensive use of five complete channel systems, or systems of energy pathways, often called meridians, whereas TCM works mainly with two.

This is one of the most striking differences between Classical Acupuncture and TCM, and what most powerfully gives the greatest healing benefits.

Healing is more than simply a physical process, but encompasses the understanding of emotional and spiritual needs, and is also about inherited predispositions handed down from generation to generation, both physically and emotionally.

A specific channel system is chosen for treatment, based on the type of health issue, both physical and /or emotional and even spiritual, manifesting at different levels or depths.

The diagnostic technique of Pulse Diagnosis clarifies to the clinician, which level of the body requires attention.  A comprehensive health history at the initial treatment also directs the clinician to attend to certain channels.

This makes it possible for treatments to be very focused. It also eliminates the possibility that certain conditions are inadvertently shifted deeper into the body, instead of lifted out of the body,  for example, treating the common cold by focusing on the superficial Sinew Meridians, rather than on the deeper Primary Channels which connect with the internal organs.

The channel systems include the 12 Sinew Meridians, the 12 so-called Primary Meridians,  the 12 Divergent Meridians, the 16 Luo Meridians, and the 8 Extraordinary Meridians.

TCM recognizes and uses only the 12 Primary Meridians and makes some use of the 8 Extraordinary Meridians.

The 12 Sinew Meridians deal with what Chinese Medicine calls “External” conditions, and are used for acute (short-term) and semi-acute muscular disorders, acute colds and ‘flu, and dermatology. They are also used for sinusitis or environmental allergies.

The 12 Primary Meridians deal with communication between the External and the Internal, or the organ systems. If an External condition has not been resolved, it can travel deeper into the body, very likely affecting the organs. Disorders of all the organ systems are treated by these Meridians. These would include more chronic (long-term) conditions, e.g.  gastro-intestinal, respiratory, gynecological, or circulatory conditions. Long term environmental and food allergies may be treated with these Meridians also.

The 12 Divergent Meridians protect the organ systems, diverting the pathology into conditions of Latency, if the body is not strong enough to eliminate the pathogen. These conditions are chronic and recurring, and range from chronic muscular-skeletal conditions, e.g. rheumatoid arthritis, and includes all auto-immune diseases, to sensory organ dysfunction.

These Meridians allow communication between the External and the deepest level, what Chinese medicine calls the Constitutional level, the cellular level, and are able to treat cancer.

The 16 Luo Meridians deal with emotional and psychological disharmonies, as well as disorders on the level of the blood, i.e. the cardiovascular and gynecological systems.

The 8 Extraordinary Meridians, are the channel system of the Constitutional level, the cellular level. Moderation of birth defects, as well as disorders originating from birth trauma, childhood illness and injuries, and illness originating in childhood, including psychological conditions, are treated by this system.

Additionally, this channel system treats conditions that have lasted for long periods, seven or eight years, or longer.

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I am a primary care internist and integrative medicine specialist at Massachusetts General Hospital and have been referring patients to Adele for many years. Adele’s training in classical acupuncture, as well as her deep personal passion and commitment to her work, make her a special person to work with. I choose to refer to Adele when my patients have the most complex and difficult problems, and have confidence that Adele will use her extensive knowledge, as well as her literature and connections to many other Asian healing masters, to address the imbalances in my patients’ systems.
All of this makes her a unique practitioner, but it is her gentle sense of humor, her groundedness, and her deep caring for the healing process of her patients that I find so important as I share patients with her.

Kathryn Hayward M.D
Boston MA
January 2009