How does acupuncture work and what exactly are meridians and acupoints? 针灸如何产生疗效?经络及穴位又是什么呢?

Updated: Jan 25


Acupuncture Model

In the previous article we discussed about what acupuncture actually feels like, but do you also know how it actually works in your body?


Is acupuncture just for treating physical injuries or is it also effective for internal issues? Why does the TCM practitioner insert a needle into my arm if he/she is treating my insomnia?


To better understand the mechanisms behind acupuncture, it is important to appreciate what meridians and acupoints are first.

So what are meridians?

Simply put, meridians (经络) are channels along the body in which our Qi flows. There are many individual channels in the body, but they are all interconnected in some ways and form a continuous network of channels throughout the body for the Qi to flow.


Inserting a needle not only treats a problem in the local area, but can also tackle problems located further down the meridian, as well as treat organs which the meridian is associated with.


Why is the interconnection of meridians so important?

This interconnection provides a link between the different parts of the body, as well as between the body surface and the interior. This is why performing acupuncture on one's finger can soothe a sore throat, or inserting a needle in the arm can cure ailments of the internal organs.

For example, if a patient is diagnosed with insomnia due to imbalances in the heart, inserting a needle in specific acupoints along the heart meridian can help treat the heart and improve sleep. (Since the exterior part of the heart meridian runs from the armpit down to the little finger, the needle will thus be inserted on the arm somewhere along this line.)

Therefore, due to this interconnected network of meridians, inserting a needle not only treats a problem in the local area, but can also tackle problems located further down the meridian, as well as treat organs which the meridian is associated with. This is why acupuncture is able to treat both physical injuries and internal ailments.

How about acupoints?

Acupoints (腧穴/穴位) are designated points on the body surface where inserting a needle produces the required therapeutic effect. Performing acupuncture on non-acupoints will not yield the same effect. Most acupoints are located along meridians. Inserting needles into acupoints allows a TCM practitioner to influence the Qi flowing in the meridian (among other effects) and correct imbalances in the body.

Acupoints that belong on the same meridian will have some similarities with regards to what they can treat. However each individual acupoint will still have its own unique scope of ailments it can tackle. For example, on the heart meridian, several acupoints can be used to treat heart palpitations, and one particular point named 神门 (Shén Mén) can treat insomnia and high blood pressure as well.

It is these basic characteristics of meridians and acupoints that makes acupuncture so effective and fascinating. While all these concepts may seem abstract, research has uncovered some evidence of acupuncture that allows us to better understand it from the perspective of modern science. These will be discussed in a future article about the science of acupuncture.




前文章曾提到针灸的感觉,但你可知道针灸又如何在您身内产生疗效呢?

人人皆知针灸疗法是应用毫针扎入体表以治疗病痛。然而,针灸到底是怎么会有疗效?针灸只善用于骨伤外科吗?或者对于内科也有良好的疗效?为什么治疗患者之失眠症时,医师选择把毫针扎在手背上,而不扎在身体其他部分?

若欲更深了解针灸,必须先明白经络及穴位之理论。

什么是经络?

经络可简描为沿着全身的通道,而人体之气则在此通道运行。经络系统是由许多经络相互联系而构成的。不同经络的衔接形成一个互相流通,遍布全身的网络,以供气运行全身。

各经络之间相互联系,构成体系之意义在哪里?

经络的互联除了提供身体各部分互相流通之外,也把体内各器官及身体表层通连一起。故此,扎针于手指头能治疗喉咙疼痛,或扎针手臂能治疗脏腑病变。

例如治疗与心有关的失眠症,可把毫针扎入心经上的穴位,以调和心脏,改善睡眠。(因心的经络始于心脏,并伸延至身体表层,从腋下沿着上肢循行,并止于小指,所以毫针会扎入沿着手臂上的心经所循行的线条。)

由于经络在全身形成了互相流通的网络系统,所以针灸除了治疗局部病痛以外,也能治疗沿着经络以下的部位,以及能调和于经络有关联之脏腑。

什么是穴位/腧穴

腧穴,或称穴位是人体表层的针灸特定部位。扎针于穴位上会产生疗效,而扎针于非穴位上则无此疗效。多数腧穴位于经络上。在穴位上进行针灸能疏通经脉、调理气血,并治疗疾病。

同条经络上的穴位大致上都能治类似病症,但各腧穴仍有自己本身特殊的功用。例如心经上多数的腧穴都能治疗心悸,但唯有被名为神门的心经腧穴能治疗失眠和降血压。

基于经络和穴位特性的针灸所产生之疗效确实令人惊叹。虽然此理论看似抽象,但现代研究证实针灸之实用。未来的文章将有机会讨论关于针灸之科学研究。