onsdag 4 maj 2011

Jeffrey Yuan, the meridian system and the Divergent Channels in acupuncture, and more on the difference between TCM and Classical Chinese Medicine

Classical chinese medicine and Daoism have many similar views of how qi, energy, makes us alive and which ways it flows in the body. I am going off on a conference on this and thought I should explain some basics on the lesser known aspect of the meridian system.

Méridien is probably the first usage of the word in the West, in French texts. It hints at the longitudinal and latitudinal web we have devised to keep track of where we are on the planet. But the Chinese term is not meridian: it is jingluo, a word that combines two different kinds of meridians and has quite a different connotation. The twelve main meridians are called jing, whereas luo is a smaller network all out through the body, much like the capillary network for blood. The word jing means net and have connotations of channels, like irrigation channels. To get that more organic idea, sometimes it has been translated into warp and weft in English, for the looms that weavers use, and the idea of a woven whole.

The luo are a network of smaller flows that link between meridians and then out into all parts of the body where the main meridians don´t go. There are specific points on channels called luoxue, luo points, that open and balance the link between that channel and the paired channel to make it smoother – LU7, Lieque, on the Lung channel, is luo to connect to the Large Intestine channel, KID4 on the Kidney channel is luo to the Bladder channel, etc.

After the first twelve main meridians there are the Eight Extraordinary Meridians, which we´ll do a separate post on later. Two of the Eight Extras are included in the main ones – the Ren and Du meridian, the Governing and Conception vessel (see earlier posts). Few Western acupuncturists are used to working with the other six Extras at all.

The conference I am going to is one the Divergent Channels (jingbie), and even fewer acupuncturists work with and use them, myself included. The conference is held by legendary acupuncturist Jeffrey Yuan, who is trained both in old chinese medicine and in Daoism, and knows some of the really old Daoist ways of using chinese medicine and acupuncture for patients. You can see his background here:

And two interviews with him here, the first of which is a discussion on how Chinese medicine can aid the treatment of cancer:

And a general Interview:

On this page, you can read a first intro to the Divergent channels:

The Divergent channels form a network that brings energy back into the internal organs from the extremities. They create deeper connections between the meridians. Yuan writes that he uses them for treatment of auto-immune diseases with acupuncture – you can read an intro on his article for the conference here:

Here´s a quote from it: ”The Divergent channels are a link between the External and Constitutional domains. Therefore, the Divergent Meridians have a focus that is quite specific in dealing with constitutional factors and they overlap somewhat with the Eight Extraordinary Channels. However, they also deal with the Exterior, which means that they also overlap somewhat with the Sinew Channels. These channels therefore make a direct connection between the external and the constitutional energetics (which are the marrow and bones). These channels therefore are the main ones when the condition relates to the bones and marrow. The marrow and bones conducts Yuan Qi, but as they also conduct Weiqi they are part of the external domain.

During this seminar we will see correlations between the Divergent Channels and the immune and lymphatic systems. We will see that these channels are among the most important for treatment of immunological conditions, from auto-immune to immuno-compromised illnesses.”

Few acupuncturists ever understand, even less work with these, so it will be very interesting to hear more about them in depth. One of the few books that try to specialize in them is Charles Cace and Miki Shima, The Channel Divergences, but at least this reader was a bit disappointed in how little was about the Divergent channels themselves and how much was devoted to various new systems of treating them using electro-acupuncture in Japanese acupuncture. Maciocia has a book that partially looks at them, but otherwise, knowledge and information about them is scarce compared even to the Eight Extras.

I´ll fill in this post with a report from the conference later.