Allied Health World has had the privilege of speaking with recognized leaders and accomplished practitioners of the ancient art of acupuncture in an effort to offer our readership a comprehensive understanding of what will be involved in acupuncture courses. Here we present information on the specific course work, hands on training, and specialized knowledge base that will be a part of any formal acupuncture training program:
What specific coursework is typically part of acupuncture training?
There are various programs available to those interested in pursuing acupuncture jobs or those who wish to broaden their conventional or natural medical practices by making acupuncture available to their clients. These range from 200-hour certificate programs to 3000-hour formal training programs at the postgraduate level.
There are; however, certain commonalities between the coursework all these programs offer. Although there will be a tremendous spread between the depth and scope of the instruction at these various levels of erudition, expect all acupuncture courses to cover physiology, oriental medicine, and needle sterilization in keeping with the clean needle technique (CNT). Acupuncture courses for advanced degrees will also introduce students to Chinese medical theory and philosophy, as well as Chinese herbology and general botanical medicine.
What is the significance of the twelve main acupuncture meridians?
Acupuncture meridians are the conduits or channels through which the vital energy, known as Qi (pronounced and commonly spelled as “Chi”), flows through the body. These meridians, called jing luo in the parlance of traditional Chinese medicine, not only provide an invisible pathway for the Chi but also represent the lines on which the 365 acupuncture points are located.
The twelve main meridians, or channels through which Qi flows, can be thought of as beginning at the forehead and running back across the cranium down the back of the body to the hands, feet, fingers, and toes; and also from just below the eyes down the front of the body to the pelvis and tips of the four appendages. A single meridian is centrally located and bisects the body, while the others run down each side of the front and back of the torso as well as along the front and back of the arms and legs.
The twelve main meridians are divided into two separate groupings, six that represent “yin” the feminine archetypal classification, and six that fall within “yang”, representing the masculine energy that exists in the universe. Yin and yang are philosophical representations of universal opposites that in their opposition create perfect balance. These opposing forces exist in nature and are often explained in scientific terms based on examples derived from physics as centripetal and centrifugal forces.
What are the twelve main acupuncture meridians?
The twelve main meridians are directly related to specific major organs, and are in fact named for the respective organ each one correlates with. On each meridian line lay a number of acupuncture points that can be targeted in various combinations to deal with localized pain as well as any number of illnesses. The following shows the organ associated with each meridian, its commonly used abbreviation in parenthesis, the number of acupuncture points that fall on each meridian, its Chinese name, and finally the English translation of its Chinese name:
- Lung Meridian (LU): Eleven points fall on this meridian known as Tai Yin, which translates to The Hand Greater Yin of the Lung.
- Kidney Meridian (KI): Twenty-seven points fall on this meridian known as Shao Yin, which translates to The Foot Lesser Yin of the Kidney.
- Gallbladder Meridian (GB): There are forty-four points on this meridian called Shao Yang, or The Foot Lesser Yang of the Gall Bladder.
- Stomach Meridian (ST): Forty-Five points are located on the Yang Ming meridian, which is called The Foot Bright Yang of the Stomach in English.
- Spleen Meridian (SP): Twenty-one points fall on this meridian called Tai Yin, or The Foot Greater Yin of the Spleen in English.
- Heart Meridian (HT, HE): Nine acupuncture points are located on the Shao Yin meridian, called The Hand Lesser Yin of the Heart in English.
- Small Intestine Meridian (SI): There are nineteen acupuncture points on this meridian known as Tai Yang, or The Hand Greater Yang of the Small Intestine in English.
- Large Intestine Meridian (LI): Twenty acupuncture points fall on this meridian called Yang Ming, which translates to The Hand Bright Yang of the Large Intestine.
- Urinary Bladder Meridian (BL, UB): This meridian has sixty-seven acupuncture points and is knows as Tai Yang, or The Foot Greater Yang of the Bladder.
- Triple Warmer/San Jiao Meridian (TW, TB, SJ): This meridian has twenty-three points and is called San Jiao or Shao Yang, which translates to The Hand Lesser Yang of the San Jiao.
- Pericardium Meridian (P, PC): There are nine points located on this meridian called Jue Yin, or The Hand Terminal Yin of the Pericardium in English.
- Liver Meridian (LV): Fourteen points are found on this meridian called Jue Yin, which means The Foot Terminal Yin of the Liver.
What is the significance of the extraordinary channels?
Acupuncture training programs teach that there are an additional eight meridians referred to as extraordinary channels. These serve as reservoirs that replenish the twelve main meridian channels with Qi, and also serve as the low point to which excess Qi drains from these twelve meridians. These eight extraordinary channels are closely related to the kidneys and go by the following names:
- Governing Vessel (Du Mai)
- Conception Vessel (Ren Mai)
- Penetrating Vessel (Chong Mai)
- Belt Channel (Dai Mai)
- Yin Motility Channel (Yin Chiao Mai)
- Yang Motility Channel (Yang Chiao Mai)
- Yang Regulating Channel (Yang Wei Mai)
- Yin Regulating Channel (Yin Wei Mai)