ISSN 2398-2950      

Acupuncture: meridian systems


Tim Couzens


  • Acupuncture can be used to treat a wide range of acute and chronic conditions spanning all organ systems.
  • Acute conditions successfully treated include vomiting, diarrhea, back pain, disc prolapse and fever.
  • Chronic conditions are primarily musculoskeletal (main use) and also organ support, eg liver, kidney, pancreas, stomach, small and large intestine and lung. Also useful post injury, eg pain relief ad assisting recovery from paralysis, eg bladder, hind limbs.
  • Can be effective in controlling epilepsy, in management of endocrine disorders, provide support in cancer care and help in assisting with some behavioral disorders.
  • The 12 organs in the body, viewed by Chinese Traditional Medicine (TCM) as the Zang-fu organs, correspond to the 12 major paired meridians.
  • Qi (or body life force/energy) circulates through these meridians in a 24 hour cycle (referred to as the Chinese circadian clock), staying in each meridian for 2 hours.
  • The flow of Qi (derived from the bodies intake of air and food) follows a set pathway, namely: Lung   →   Large intestine   →   Stomach   →   Spleen   →   Heart   →   Small intestine   →   Bladder   →   Kidney   →   Pericardium   →   Triple heater   →   Gall bladder   →   Liver   →   back to the lungs.
  • Qi flows through the Lung meridian between 03.00 and 05.00 hours and then through the other organs in the cycle at 2 hourly intervals.
  • In addition to these 12 main meridians, there are 8 non-paired meridians that are not connected to the Zang-fu organs listed above. Two of these are regularly used, namely the Governing vessel (GV) and Conception vessel (CV) meridians.

The twelve main meridians

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Further Reading


Refereed papers

  • Recent references from PubMed and VetMedResource.
  • Bossut D F (1996) Veterinary clinical applications of acupuncture. J Altern Complement Med (1), 65-9 PubMed.
  • Panzer R B & Chrisman C L (1994) An auricular acupuncture treatment for idiopathic canine epilepsy - a preliminary report. Am J Chin Med 22 (1), 11-7 PubMed.
  • Yu C, Zhang K, Lu G et al (1994) Characteristics of acupuncture meridians and acupoints in animals. Rev Sci Tech 13 (3), 927-33 PubMed.
  • Janssens L A (1993) The role of acupuncture in analgesia. Tijdschr Diergeneeskd 118 (Suppl 1), 11S-12S PubMed.
  • Altman S (1992) Techniques and instrumentation. Probl Vet Med (1), 66-87 VetMedResource.
  • Altman S (1992) The incorporation of acupuncture into a small animal practice. Probl Vet Med (1), 223-33 PubMed.
  • Dill S G (1992) Acupuncture for gastrointestinal disorders. Probl Vet Med (1), 144-54 PubMed.
  • Durkes T E (1992) Gold bead implants. Probl Vet Med (1), 207-11 PubMed.
  • Hwang Y C (1992) Acupuncture atlas. Probl Vet Med (1), 16-33 PubMed.
  • Hwang Y C (1992) Anatomy and classification of acupoints. Probl Vet Med (1), 12-5 PubMed.
  • Janssens L A (1992) Trigger point therapy. Probl Vet Med (1), 117-24 PubMed.
  • Janssens L A (1992) Acupuncture for the treatment of thoracolumbar and cervical disc disease in the dog. Probl Vet Med (1), 107-16 PubMed.
  • Jaggar D (1992) History and basic introduction to veterinary acupuncture. Probl Vet Med (1), 1-11 PubMed.
  • Klide A M (1992) Acupuncture Analgesia. Vet Clin North Am Small Anim Pract 22 (2), 374-9 PubMed.
  • Limehouse J B (1992) Oriental concepts of acupuncture. Probl Vet Med (1), 53-65 PubMed.
  • Lin J H & Panzer R (1992) Acupuncture for reproductive disorders. Probl Vet Med (1), 155-61 PubMed.
  • Rogers P A, Schoen A M & Limehouse J (1992) Acupuncture for immune-mediated disorders. Literature review and clinical applications. Probl Vet Med (1), 162-93 PubMed.
  • Schoen A M (1992) Acupuncture for musculoskeletal disorders. Probl Vet Med (1), 88-97 PubMed.
  • Schwartz C (1992) Chronic respiratory conditions and acupuncture therapy. Probl Vet Med (1), 136-43 PubMed.
  • Smith F W Jr. (1992) Acupuncture for cardiovascular disorders. Probl Vet Med (1), 125-31 PubMed.
  • Smith F W Jr. (1992) Neurophysiologic basis of acupuncture. Probl Vet Med (1), 34-52 PubMed.
  • Janssens L A (1991) Acupuncture in thoracolumbar disc disease. J S Afr Vet Assoc 62 (1), 2 PubMed.
  • Robinson C (1990) Getting started in acupuncture. Aust Vet J 67 (10), N423 PubMed.
  • Janssens L A & Rogers P A (1989) Acupuncture versus surgery in canine thoracolumbar disc disease. Vet Rec 124 (11), 283 PubMed.
  • van Niekerk J & Eckersley N (1988) The use of acupuncture in canine epilepsy. J S Afr Vet Assoc 59 (1), 5 PubMed.
  • Klide A M, Farnbach G C & Gallagher S M (1987) Acupuncture therapy for the treatment of intractable, idiopathic epilepsy in dogs. Acupunct Electrother Res 12 (1), 71-74 PubMed.
  • Schoen A M, Janssens L & Rogers P A (1986) Veterinary acupuncture. Semin Vet Med Surg (Small Anim) (3), 224-9 PubMed.
  • Williams B M (1986) Acupuncture treatment of paralysis. Vet Rec 119 (13), 340 PubMed.
  • Craige J E (1985) Acupuncture for fleabite allergic dermatitis. J Am Vet Med Assoc 187 (2), 127 PubMed.
  • Altman S (1981) Clinical use of veterinary acupuncture. Vet Med Small Anim Clin 76 (9), 1307-12 PubMed.
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  • Janssens L, Altman S & Rogers P A (1979) Respiratory and cardiac arrest under general anaesthesia - treatment by acupuncture of the nasal philtrum. Vet Rec 105 (12), 273-6 PubMed.
  • Rogers P A (1978) Veterinary acupuncture. Vet Rec 102 (17), 387 PubMed.
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Other sources of information

  • Schoen & Wynn (1997) Complementary and Alternative Veterinary Medicine. Mosby.
  • Schoen A (1994) Veterinary Acupuncture. Ancient Art to Modern Medicine. Mosby.
  • Maciocia G (1989) The Foundations of Chinese Medicine. Churchill Livingstone.

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