Acupressure Channels

acupressure-acupuncture channels-meridian image

A Channel, or Meridian theory is one of the core components of traditional Chinese medical theory. As one of many important working theories, it helps gives an integral explanation for how human life works, how a disease forms, and how acupressure-acupuncture therapy acts to treat a disease. If we do not understand the Channels, it is hard to understand Chinese medicine.

Up until the last couple of decades, Western medicine was not able to identify or explain how Acu-Channels worked or where they were located. This led to the mystification of Chinese medicine and confusion as countless scientific studies began proving the efficacy of acupuncture.

Now, a picture is emerging suggesting that the Channels run between connective tissue and the fascia of the body. Even more fascinating, the exact paths of these Channels are developed during fetal embryonic stages and tissue develops and folds endlessly upon itself. The acu-points that are located along the Channels are nodes of nerve endings and vascular connections allowing for communication throughout the body. Fascia is highly conductive of piezoelectricity that is stimulated when the acu-point is stimulated by essential oils, pressure, needles, magnets, and so on.

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Pain-Disease Location Channel Associations

This is yet another way to assess the root causes and patterns of disease and pain syndromes in using Chinese medicine. This helps to identify the correct Aroma Acu-Therapy points to use in your self-care protocols.

Abbreviation Key:


  • Head Vertex: DU, BL, LV, SI, GB
  • Head Frontal: ST,BL,GB
  • Head Lateral: GB, SI,  LI, HT, KI, SP, ST
  • Head Occipital: DU, BL, KI
  • Brain: DU, BL, ST
  • Face : ST, REN, GB
  • Mandible: ST, GB, LI, SJ, SI, LI, LV
  • Cheek: SI, SJ, LI ,ST, BL 
  • Eye: BL, SI, ST, GB, SJ, HT, LV, DU 
  • Nose: LI, ST, SI, BL
  • Lip: ST, LI, LV, REN
  • Teeth: ST, LI, SJ, BL
  • Tongue: SP, KI, HT, SJ, BL
  • Ear: GB, SJ, BL, SI, ST, LI, PER, KI, SP


  • Pharynx: SI, HT, GB, ST, SP, REN, DU
  • Larynx: ST, KI, HT, LV, PER, LI, LU
  • Epiglottis: KI, REN
  • Neck: BL, KI, GB, HT, SI, LI, DU
  • Shoulder: BL, SI, GB, SJ, LI, SI, LU, DU
  • Thorax: SP, HT, PER, SJ


  • Chest: REN, SJ, LV
  • Lung: LU, LI, HT, KI, LV
  • Heart: HT, SI, SP, KI, BL, GB, ST, PER, DU
  • Pericardium: PER, SJ, KI
  • Breast: SP, ST, LI, GB, HT 


  • Spine: BL, KI, ST, LI, SI, DU
  • Axilla: GB, LU, HT, PER, SI, BL, SJ, SP
  • Hypochondriac: GB, PER, LV, ST, LU, SP
  • Liver: LV, GB, KI
  • Gallbladder: GB, LV
  • Lower Back: BL, KI, DU
  • Kidney: KI, BL 
  • Buttocks: BL, GB, DU
  • Sacrum: GB, BL, DU


  • Abdomen: ST, SP, LV, KI, REN
  • Umbilicus: ST, SP, HT, DU
  • Spleen: SP, ST
  • Stomach: ST, SP, SI, LV, LU
  • Large Intestine: LI, LU, SP
  • Small Intestine: SI, HT, SP
  • Bladder: BL, SJ, PER
  • External Genitals: LV, ST, SP, KI ,REN, DU

Prior to recent scientific studies advancing the understanding of acupuncture Channels the hypotheses put forward focused mainly on neuron, body fluid, and electromagnetic fields. But none of the aspects separately gave an integrative explanation of meridian phenomena and complies well the classic meridian theory. While further investigation is warranted on the subject, it is optimistic that Western medicine will soon have an understanding of Channel theory.

Acupuncture is the placement of hair-fine, sterile needles into specific areas of the body referred to as acupuncture points. These points are located along channels, or meridians, that travel to all areas of the body and organ systems. When stimulated, the acupuncture points activate the body’s internal energetics, or Qi (pronounced chee). Acupuncture and acupressure therapy regulates the movement of Qi and activates the body’s own recuperative ability, clearing blocks that create pain, and promotes natural healing for a wide variety of medical problems.

Acupuncture is effective at treating pain and stimulates nerve regeneration and healing by placing needles in acupuncture points near the pain site, either on an acupuncture point on the channels where the pain is located. While acupuncture needles can be placed near or over the location of pain, some of the more effective points used for pain are often located in distal points located far from the pain enhancing the overall analgesic effect of acupuncture without the side-effects and toxicity associated with pharmaceuticals.

On an emotional level, acupuncture is profoundly relaxing and can bring clarity of mind, balance emotions, and returns people to their authentic self. It is an important tool in avoiding the development of opioid addiction and it is now recognized that acupuncture should be used as for pain before opiates are prescribed.

In 2013, the Osteoarthritis Research Society found that acupuncture was superior to sham acupuncture. The same study concluded that acupuncture is significantly more effective than muscle-strengthening exercises such as tai chi, weight loss, standard care, or aerobic exercise in reducing arthritis pain.[2]

The Acupuncture Evidence Project conducted by the Australian Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine Association proved a positive effect of acupuncture as a preventative medicine and with the following conditions:[3]

  • Allergic rhinitis
  • Chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting 
  • Chronic low back pain
  • Headaches and migraines
  • Knee osteoarthritis
  • Post-operative nausea & vomiting
  • Post-operative pain

In another study, the largest study of its kind to date, 454,920 patients were treated with acupuncture for a headache, low back pain, and osteoarthritis in a trial. The 8,727 treating physicians recorded results as marked or moderate in 76% of cases. In all analyses, true acupuncture was significantly superior to no acupuncture and sham acupuncture controls [4]

A science review on acupuncture and moxibustion found that acupuncture and moxibustion were superior or equal to medical standard care for lateral elbow pain.[5]

Acupuncture has a direct impact on the brain by activating the body’s natural, or endogenous opioids and opioid receptor sites; [6] this action is important in addressing pain, withdrawal symptoms, and cravings. One consequential study concluded that “the majority [of studies] agreed on the efficacy of acupuncture as a strategy for the treatment of opiod addiction” and that “neurochemical and behavioral evidence has shown that acupuncture helps to reduce the effects of positive and negative reinforcement involved in opiate addiction by modulating mesolimbic dopamine neurons. In conclusion, acupuncture has been proven an effective treatment for pain, withdrawal symptoms, and reduces stress and anxiety contributing to relapse of opioid use.

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[1] Crawford Paul, Penzien Donald B., and Coeytaux Remy. Medical Acupuncture. August 2017, 29(4): 229231.

[2] Corbett MS, Rice SJ, Madurasinghe V, Slack R, Fayter DA, Harden M, et al. Acupuncture and other Physical Treatments for the Relief of Pain Due to Osteoarthritis of the Knee: Network Meta-analysis. Osteoarthritis and Cartilage / OARS, Osteoarthritis Research Society. 2013;21(9):1290-8.

[3] 1McDonald J, Janz S. The Acupuncture Evidence Project:  A Comprehensive Literature Review. Australian Acupuncture & Chinese Medicine Association Limited, Dec 19, 2016

[4] Vickers AJ, Cronin AM, Maschino AC, Lewith G, MacPherson H, Foster NE, et al. Acupuncture for Chronic Pain: Individual Patient Data Meta-Analysis. Archives of Internal Medicine. 2012;172(19):1444-53.

[5] Gadau M, Yeung WF, Liu H, Zaslawski C, Tan YS, Wang FC, et al. Acupuncture and Moxibustion for Lateral Elbow Pain: A Systematic Review of Randomized Controlled Trials. BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine. 2014;14:136

[6] Wu LZ, Cui CL, Tian JB, Ji D, Han JS. Suppression of Morphine Withdrawal by Electroacupuncture in Rats: Dynorphin and Kappa-Opioid Receptor Implicated. Brain Research. 1999;851(1-2):290-6.

[7] Lin JG, Chan YY, Chen YH. Acupuncture for the Treatment of Opiate Addiction. Evidence Based Complement Alternative Med. 2012;2012:739045.

Langevin H. M., Yandow J. A. Relationship of acupuncture points and meridians to connective tissue planes. Anatomical Record2002;269(6):257–265. doi: 10.1002/ar.10185.

Xie H.-R., Li F.-C., Zhang W.-B. Observation and analysis on the meridian-collateral running track-related anatomical structure in the human body. Acupuncture Research2009;34(3):202–206. [PubMed[Google Scholar]

Zhang W. B. Analysis on the concepts of qi, blood and meridians in Huangdi Neijing (Yellow Emperor’s Canon of Internal Classic) Chinese Acupuncture and Moxibustion2013;33(8):708–716.

Zhang, W. B., Wang, G. J., & Fuxe, K. (2015). Classic and Modern Meridian Studies: A Review of Low Hydraulic Resistance Channels along Meridians and Their Relevance for Therapeutic Effects in Traditional Chinese Medicine. Evidence-based complementary and alternative medicine : eCAM2015, 410979.

Hospital of People's Liberate Army of China. Preliminary study of propagated sensation along meridians. Proceedings of the Acupuncture and Acupuncture Anesthesia; 1973; Beijing, China. Beijing People's Publishing House; pp. 52–57. (Chinese) 

This information has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.