Acupuncture and Meridian Research


Meridian Electrical Properties

  1. Ahn AC, et al. Electrical properties of acupuncture points and meridians: a systematic review. Bioelectromagnetics 2008; 29(4):245-56.This study is a review of acupuncture research data, examining acupuncture points and meridians to ascertain whether evidence exists to support or refute the claim that acupuncture points and meridians are conduits for electrical signals.Abstract:According to conventional wisdom within the acupuncture community, acupuncture points and meridians are special conduits for electrical signals. This view gained popularity after anecdotal reports and clinical studies asserted that these anatomical structures are characterized by lower electrical impedance compared to adjacent controls. To ascertain whether evidence exists to support or refute this claim, we conducted a systematic review of studies directly evaluating the electrical characteristics of acupuncture structures and appropriate controls. We searched seven electronic databases until August 2007, hand-searched references, and consulted technical experts. We limited the review to primary data human studies published in English. A quality scoring system was created and employed for this review. A total of 16 articles representing 18 studies met inclusion criteria: 9 examining acupuncture points and 9 examining meridians. Five out of 9 point studies showed positive association between acupuncture points and lower electrical resistance and impedance, while 7 out of 9 meridian studies showed positive association between acupuncture meridians and lower electrical impedance and higher capacitance. The studies were generally poor in quality and limited by small sample size and multiple confounders. Based on this review, the evidence does not conclusively support the claim that acupuncture points or meridians are electrically distinguishable. However, the preliminary findings are suggestive and offer future directions for research based on in-depth interpretation of the data.

  2. Ahn AC, Martinsen OG. Electrical characterization of acupuncture points: technical issues and challenges. The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine 2007; 13(8):817-24.Understanding the factors that affect electrodermal readings—including stratum corneum, sweat ducts, electrode polarization, electrode material, contact medium, electrode geometry and electrode arrangement.Abstract:Acupuncture points are frequently described as having distinct electrical properties. These properties include increased conductance, reduced impedance and resistance, increased capacitance, and elevated electrical potential compared to adjacent nonacupuncture points. Commercial electrodiagnostic devices have used this assertion as a means to localize and analyze acupuncture points for diagnostic purposes. Yet, the electrical characterization of acupuncture points is associated with important technical issues that are often overlooked. Electrode polarizability, stratum corneum impedance, presence of sweat glands, choice of contact medium, electrode geometry, and other factors contribute to the final electrodermal reading and may cause doubts about the validity of available electrodiagnostic devices. The goal of this review is to help researchers and clinicians understand these factors affecting electrodermal readings, to make apparent the difficulties and challenges confronting electrodermal readings, and to increase understanding about how these possible associations can be interpreted and understood from the perspective of biology.

  3. Ahn AC, Wu J, Badger GJ, Hammerschlag R, Langevin HM. Electrical impedance along connective tissue planes associated with acupuncture meridians. BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine 2005; 5(1):10-19.Ultrasound of the pericardium meridian reveals that contact of the needle with connective tissue may explain the decrease in electrical impedance along the pericardium channel.Abstract: BACKGROUND: Acupuncture points and meridians are commonly believed to possess unique electrical properties. The experimental support for this claim is limited given the technical and methodological shortcomings of prior studies. Recent studies indicate a correspondence between acupuncture meridians and connective tissue planes. We hypothesized that segments of acupuncture meridians that are associated with loose connective tissue planes (between muscles or between muscle and bone) visible by ultrasound have greater electrical conductance (less electrical impedance) than non-meridian, parallel control segments. METHODS: We used a four-electrode method to measure the electrical impedance along segments of the Pericardium and Spleen meridians and corresponding parallel control segments in 23 human subjects. Meridian segments were determined by palpation and proportional measurements. Connective tissue planes underlying those segments were imaged with an ultrasound scanner. Along each meridian segment, four gold-plated needles were inserted along a straight line and used as electrodes. A parallel series of four control needles were placed 0.8 cm medial to the meridian needles. For each set of four needles, a 3.3 kHz alternating (AC) constant amplitude current was introduced at three different amplitudes (20, 40, and 80 microAmps) to the outer two needles, while the voltage was measured between the inner two needles. Tissue impedance between the two inner needles was calculated based on Ohm’s law (ratio of voltage to current intensity). RESULTS: At the Pericardium location, mean tissue impedance was significantly lower at meridian segments (70.4 +/- 5.7 Omega) compared with control segments (75.0 +/- 5.9 Omega) (p = 0.0003). At the Spleen location, mean impedance for meridian (67.8 +/- 6.8 Omega) and control segments (68.5 +/- 7.5 Omega) were not significantly different (p = 0.70). CONCLUSION: Tissue impedance was on average lower along the Pericardium meridian, but not along the Spleen meridian, compared with their respective controls. Ultrasound imaging of meridian and control segments suggested that contact of the needle with connective tissue may explain the decrease in electrical impedance noted at the Pericardium meridian. Further studies are needed to determine whether tissue impedance is lower in (1) connective tissue in general compared with muscle and (2) meridian-associated vs. non meridian-associated connective tissue.

  4. Barlea NM, Shibianu, H, Ciupa RV. Electrical detection of acupuncture points. Available fromhttp://www.cs.utclujro/~mbirtea/m/04m.htmSkin impedance measurements were taken at low frequencies (under 20 Hz) and at high frequencies (over 500 Hz). “A good choice for measuring frequency could be somewhere between 20 and 200 Hz, probably 100 Hz for a good noise rejection.”Abstract: Comparative total impedance measurements for normal skin and acupuncture points are presented. The behavior of the impedance and admittance with the frequency for active points and indifferent skin is analyzed. It is indicated the optimum frequency domain for the detection of the acupuncture points.

  5. Becker RO, Reichmanis M, Marino AA, Spadaro JA. Electrophysiological correlates of acupuncture points and meridians. Psychoenergetic Systems 1976; 1:105-12.Comment by Steven J. Pollini: “Becker, et al. not only describes the electrical nature of these points and meridians, but has also laid a fine theoretical framework in which the phenomenon of acupuncture can be studied.”Abstract: Electrical correlates have been established for a portion of the acupuncture system and indicate that it does have an objective basis in reality. Thus far, the data are supportive to the theory of the action of the acupuncture technique as influencing a primitive data transmission and control system. Conclusions: Electrical correlates have been established for a portion of the acupuncture system and indicate that it does have an objective basis in reality. Thus far, the data are supportive to our general theory of the action of the acupuncture technique in influencing a primitive data transmission and control system.

  6. Chizmadzhev Y, Indenbom A, Kuzmin P, Galichenko S, Weaver J, Potts R. Electrical properties of skin at moderate voltages: contribution of appendageal macropores. Biophysical Journal 1998; 74: 843-56.The purpose of this article was to prove that the skin resistance changes that happen through electroacupuncture can be attributed to electroporation of the appendageal ducts and to prove that electroporation of stratum corneum, specifically of the appendageal ducts, create a significant drop in skin resistance. This information is valuable to the medical community because skin has a barrier which does not allow substances to naturally flow through. If electroporation is used, then substances could more easily permeate the skin.Abstract:The electrical properties of human skin in the range of the applied voltages between 0.2 and 60 V are modeled theoretically and measured experimentally. Two parallel electric current pathways are considered: one crossing lipidcorneocyte matrix and the other going through skin appendages. The appendageal ducts are modeled as long tubes with distributed electrical parameters. For both transport systems, equations taking into account the electroporation of lipid lamella in the case the lipid-corneocyte matrix or the walls of the appendageal ducts in the case of the skin appendages are derived. Numerical solutions of these nonlinear equations are compared with published data and the results of our own experiments. The current-time response of the skin during the application of rectangular pulses of different voltage amplitudes show a profound similarity with the same characteristics in model and plasma membrane electroporation. A comparison of the theory and the experiment shows that a significant (up to three orders of magnitude) drop of skin resistance due to electrotreatment can be explained by electroporation of different substructures of stratum corneum. At relatively low voltages (U < 30 V) this drop of skin resistance can be attributed to electroporation of the appendageal ducts. At higher voltages (U >30 V), electroporation of the lipid-corneocyte matrix leads to an additional drop of skin resistance. These theoretical findings are in a good agreement with the experimental results and literature data.

  7. Cho S, Chun S. The basal electrical skin resistance of acupuncture points in normal subjects. Yonsei Medical Journal 1994: 35 (4) 464-74.The goal was to find out if basal skin resistance (BSR) changes when a person is in pain. Because there are so many variables to skin resistance?measurement values during previous studies were thought to be inconsistent, so the authors came up with a plan to obtain a “normal BSR map” by measuring multiple sites simultaneously and see if there are any useful measuring points among the 16 used.Abstract:The inhibitory component of the skin against given electrical current, also called as the electrical skin resistance, is subject to change in response to many factors, especially pain. In order to find out more definite relationship(s) between pain and skin resistance, one should make measurement in the state devoid of any external disturbing stimuli to get the “basal skin resistance (BSR)”, which is known to be different from point to point on body surface. Also, the “active points” have more consistent BSR characters than other points and most of them share same locations with “acupuncture points” which is easy to localize accurately and repeatedly in normal subject. Therefore, the comparison of BSR of certain acupuncture points of normal subject and pain-suffering subjects is expected to be able to figure out any pain-induced BSR changes. Our measurement at 16 acupuncture points (asymmetrical 8 pairs) of 10 normal subjects showed inconsistently asymmetrical distribution of the BSR values with significant order among themselves including left SP (spleen)-6 at their lowest position, but neither the measuring system itself nor any of the 16 points was statistically reliable enough for diagnostic purposes. So the measuring device needs to be improved with after evolution, and more acupuncture points need to be explored to complete our pain-related BSR map. In addition, the meaning of the above BSR distribution pattern is waiting to be explained through such efforts.

  8. Hyvarinen J, Karlsson M. Low-resistance skin points that may coincide with acupuncture loci. Medical Biology 1977; 55(2): 88-94.Skin surface areas were tested for lower electrical resistance. The diameters of the lower resistance areas found were 1.5 +/- 0.5 mm, they were symmetrical, and the distribution of points on the hands, face and ears resembled that of classical acupuncture points.Abstract: Electrical resistance of skin was studied with the aid of a specially designed meter that compared the resistance per surface area of small skin points with that of the surrounding skin. In a systematic study of the hands, face and ears in five subjects low-resistance skin points were repeatedly found in characteristic loci, comparable in different individuals and symmetric about the body midline. The low-resistance skin points had diametres of 1.5 +/- 0.5 mm and their borders were abrupt. On the dry skin resistance values were around 10 kilo-ohms at the center of the points but around 3 mega-ohms in the surrounding skin. Voltages could also be recorded at these points, but they proved to be result of electrode polarization reflected at these points because of their low electrical resistance. The distribution of the low points in the hands, face and ears resembled that of classical acupuncture points.

  9. Jabouek B., Rohlicek V. Changes of electrodermal properties in the acupuncture points in men and rats. Physiologia Bohemoslovaca 1982; 31:143-49.Areas of increased skin conductivity (AISC) have been found at “so-called” acupuncture points. In this study skin conductance measurements were performed on both humans and rats. In humans AISC’s can also be found in referred areas of pain.Abstract: The measurements of skin resistance to electrical current performed in rats and men indicated the occurrence of small skin areas, in which the conductivity for DC and AC was sharply increased. In healthy men, the anatomical localization of these areas of increased skin conductivity (AISC) corresponded to the localization of the so-called “acupuncture points” (AP). In patients, the AISC were also found outside the ordinary AP, mainly in areas of referred pain. The measurements of the size of AISC by multiple electrodes indicated the approximate size of AISC cca 350 microM in the rat, ccs 450 microns in man. The recording of skin conductivity were taken from : a) AISC in man and the rat, b) skin in the close neighbourhood of AISC, c) from the sweating human skin.– Back To Top –

  10. Johng HM, Cho JH, Shin HS. Frequency dependence of impedances at the acupuncture point Quze (PC3). IEEE Engineering in Medicine and Biology 2002; 21:33-36.Pericardium 3 was measured, using a four electrode method; results were then compared to previous published studies, which did not use the four electrode method, in relation to impedance, resistance, and capacitance.Abstract:Pericardium (PC) 3 was measured, using a four electrode method, along with nearby control points. They found that the impedance of PC 3 is about 20% lower than control points. Results were then compared with other published studies that were done with regard to PC 3. It is not straightforward to compare skin-impedance data of various research groups because the impedance depends on so many variable factors, but “considering their method and location of measured skin are quite different from ours, we consider our results to be in reasonable agreement with theirs.” Findings showed that the response times of the meridian and the control points are similar while the impedance, resistance and capacitance are quite different. Therefore, it is hypothesized that the response time represents some basic physiological process, while impedance, resistance, and capacitance reflect an individual’s constitution.

  11. Kawakita K, Kawamura H, Keino H, Hongo T, Kitakohji H. Development of low impedance points on the auricular skin of experimental peritonitis rats. American Journal of Chinese Medicine 1991; 19:199-205.Low impedance points were discovered in the ears of rats with peritonitis which opens the possibility that sweats glands are not a major cause for the formation of low impedance points. A previous study determined that rats do not have sweat glands.Abstract:Electrical impedance of the auricular skin was measured in experimental peritonitis rats. Constant voltage pulses (10ms, 4V) were applied to the skin, then the impedance was estimated. Low impedance points were gradually increased after the operation for 7-14 days, then they returned to the control level. The pseudo-sweating responses accompanied by the development of peritonitis were also observed. Histological study could not find any sweat glands in the auricular skin. These results suggest that the activation of the sweat glands is not the major cause of the formation of the low impedance points. Other possibilities of these phenomena were discussed.

  12. Kwok G, Cohen M, Cosic I. Mapping acupuncture points using multi channel device. Australasian Physical & Engineering Sciences in Medicine 1998; 21(2):68-72.Because single point locator devices have limitations, a mutlti-probe measuring device was created which measures the resistance of multiple points with a single application of the electrode.Abstract: The practice of acupuncture involves the stimulation of specific points on the skin called ‘acupuncture points’ which are small regions of local or referred pain that are more sensitive than surrounding tissue. The fact that acupuncture points can be identified subjectively as tender points and are found to have characteristic electrical properties suggest that they are functional entities rather than structural ones. These functional properties are used diagnostically in a clinical setting as pathology in a particular body location has been shown to correlate with increased tenderness and electrical conductivity of the ‘corresponding’ acupuncture point using electronic ‘point locators’, which measure the DC resistance of points compared to surrounding skin. Commercially available point locators generally utilize a metal locator probe and an indifferent electrode and are designed to produce an auditory output (usually a high pitched tone) when a point is located. These devices however, are open to criticism. They are unable to control for local variations in skin thickness, surface secretions, or pressure placed on the electrode, and are only able to measure a single point at a time. These make them time consuming to use and subjective to user bias in point selection. Furthermore these devices do not store data and are therefore unsuitable for producing a map of skin resistance, which can be accessed over time. To overcome some of the limitations of currently available single probe devices, we have designed a multi-channel probe capable of measuring and then mapping the skin resistance of multiple points.

  13. Motoyama H. Measurements of ki energy: diagnoses and treatments. Tokyo: Human Science Press, 1977.Treatment principles of Oriental Medicine from an Electrophysiological viewpoint.Abstract:Book Review: “This book is a modern classic in the scientific study of Ki (vital energy) within the context of the organ/meridian system of the human body. It is the result of several years of intensive study, during which Dr. Motoyama made constant improvements in his famous AMI device for measuring Ki, both physically and physiologically. This book embodies great technical expertise, immense wisdom and boundless compassion. It represents another vital step forward in our efforts to achieve “health for all”. It is essential reading for every serious student of Oriental medicine which – like the work of Dr. Hiroshi Motoyama – has so substantially withstood the test of time.” Steven KH Aung, M.D., President Canadian Medical Acupuncture Society, Canada

  14. Ogata HT, Matsumoto T, Tsukahara H. Changes in the electrical skin resistance on meridians during gastric surgery under general anesthesia. American Journal of Chinese Medicine 1983; 11(1-4):123-29.During gastric surgery, with general anesthesia, skin resistance decreased by an average of 36 percent in all meridians except the kidney and bladder, which increased by 100 percent and 73 percent, respectively.Abstract:The purpose of this experiment was to investigate how the skin resistance on accumulation points is modified by general anesthesia in gastric surgery and whether the stomach meridian shows particular changes or not. Ten patients were inducted with 5 mg/kg of thiopental and maintained with nitrous oxide-oxygen-halothane. The skin resistance on 12 meridians decreased gradually from an average of 432 KΩ before anesthesia to an average of 266 KΩ at the end of surgery. However, the kidney and the bladder meridians showed a trend to exceptional increase by a maximum of 100 and 73 percent, respectively. The skin resistance on the stomach meridian showed only a 23 percent decrease and no particular changes. No significant difference was noted in the change rate of meridians between the Yin and Yang groups. Comparison of these changes with those under acupuncture or local anesthesia during ophthalmic surgery was discussed.

  15. Ogata HT, Matsumoto T, Tsukahara H. Electrical skin resistance changes in meridians during ophthalmic surgery with local anesthesia. American Journal of Chinese Medicine 1983; 11(1-4):130-36.Accumulation points were measured during ophthalmic surgeries using local anesthesia and acupuncture anesthesia. The differences of pain, sympathetic nervous activity, and skin resistance between local and acupuncture anesthesia showed that pain may induce hyperactivity of the sympathetic nervous system and result in a decrease of the skin resistance in acupuncture anesthesia. Painlessness, on the other hand, may induce hypoactivity of the sympathetic nervous system and result in an increase of the skin resistance.Abstract:Electrical skin resistance on accumulation points in twelve meridians was measured during operation of cataract under local anesthesia. Electrical skin resistance increased an average of 15 percent in bladder, kidney, liver, stomach, gall bladder meridians, and decreased an average of 18 percent in lung, small intestine, heart, spleen-pancreas, heart constrictor, triple heater, large intestine meridians. When comparing the skin resistance values with those under acupuncture anesthesia during ophthalmic surgery, the skin resistance value under acupuncture anesthesia exhibited a marked decrease in all meridians (average 23 percent decrease) except the kidney meridian. On the other hand, the skin resistance under local anesthesia was only a 7.4 percent decrease in all meridians except the kidney meridian. It was speculated as one of the reasons for less changes of skin resistance under local anesthesia that sympathetic nervous activity did not occur so much because of pain relief due to local anesthesia.

  16. Prokhorov EF, Prokhorova TE, Gonzalez-Hernandez J, Kovalenko YA, Llamas F, Moctezuma S, Romero H. In vivo DC and AC measurement at acupuncture points in healthy and unhealthy people. Complementary Therapies in Medicine 2006; 14(1):31-38.Comparison of direct current and alternating current in acupuncture points from subjects living in different geological locations.Abstract:OBJECTIVES: The aim of this work was to compare in vivo measurements of direct current (DC) and alternating current (AC) obtained from acupuncture points in Ukrainian and Mexican residents. RESULTS: The results showed that DC measurements are not directly applicable to different populations. Thus, the DC resistance of the acupuncture points in the Mexican participants was 4-5 times larger than in the Ukrainians. In contrast, the capacitance of the two groups did not differ by more than 25%. CONCLUSIONS: Impedance measurements from acupuncture points can be used as an efficient and prompt non-invasive method for diagnostic purposes.

  17. Reichmanis M, Marino AA, Becker RO. D.C. skin conductance variation at acupuncture loci. American Journal of Chinese Medicine 1976; 4(1):69-72.A 36-electrode grid was placed over acupuncture locations and each were measured to show that conductance of acupuncture points were significantly different than non-acupuncture points.Abstract: Skin conductance was measured in 10 subjects with a DC Wheatstone bridge in 10 areas purportedly containing acupuncture loci on the Triple Burner (TB) and Lung (Lu) meridians. When the results were compared to those from anatomically similar locations devoid of acupuncture loci, local conductance variation was found to be significantly different (p less than 0.05) in most acupuncture locus locations.

  18. Reichmanis M, Marino AA, Becker RO. Electrical correlates of acupuncture points. IEEE Transactions on Biomedical Engineering 1975; 22(6):533-35.Conductance was measured between the Large Intestine and Pericardium meridians of the lower arm and compared to similar anatomical structures within the body to compare electrical resistance measurements.Abstract: Employing a Wheatstone bridge, skin conductance was measured over those putative acupuncture points on the large intestine and pericardium meridians lying between the metacarpophalangeal points and the elbow. Results were compared to those from anatomically similar locations devoid of acupuncture points. At most acupuncture points on most subjects, there were great electrical conductance maxima than at control sites. Conclusion: It was found that most points on the pericardium and large intestine meridians, as defined and described by the standard charts, are points of local electrical conductance maxima on most subjects. These points, therefore have an objective existence in most subjects.

  19. Reichmanis M, Marino AA, Becker RO. Laplace plane analysis of impedance between acupuncture points H-3 and H-4. Comparative Medicine East and West 1977; 5(3-4):289-9.“It appears likely that AC impedance as well as the DC resistance of some acupuncture points is significantly different from that of other points on the skin and tend to support our interpretation of the classical acupuncture system as a network for information transmission.”Abstract: The frequency dependence of the skin impedance between two acupuncture points (H-3 and H-4) was determined by Laplace plane analysis of the time domain response to an input voltage perturbation. Both the resistance and capacitance between the acupuncture points differed significantly from the corresponding controls, thus supporting the interpretation of the acupuncture system as an information transfer network.

  20. Starwynn D. Electrophysiology and the acupuncture systems. Medical Acupuncture 2002; 13(1).A summary of the history and research relating to electromagnetics and living systems with a focus on understanding acupuncture needling, meridians, life-force, and acupoints from the perspective of bioelectromagnetism.Abstract:There have been extensive efforts in recent decades to correlate the principles of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) with Western medical science. The most promising bridge between these 2 paradigms has been in the field of bioelectromagnetism (BEM), the study of the subtle electromagnetic fields that are the underpinning of life processes. Most of the significant research in this field comes from Europe, and much of it has not been readily available in the United States. This article is an overview of research in this field, with a focus on understanding acupuncture needling, meridians, life-force, and acupoints from the perspective of BEM.

  21. Wu B, Hu X, Xu J. Effect of increase and decrease of measurement voltage on skin impedance. Zhen Ci Yan Jui 1993; 18(2):104-7.Points on the body with high skin impedance cannot be changed into low skin impedance points by increasing voltage.Abstract:The skin impedance has been used as an index to plot out the meridian courses. In most of this kind of methods during measurement voltage was necessary to deliver to the subject’s skin. It is unknown whether increasing the measuring voltage can change non-low skin impedance points (non-LSIP) into low skin impedance points (LSIP). In order to clarify the problem, we made an investigation on the effect of increasing and decreasing the measuring voltage on skin impedance. Subjects under observation were 12 healthy volunteers. On the medial side of forearm two levels were selected for measurement. Four or twenty non-LISP were observed on each level. The measuring system worked on the basis of bioelectrode method. The measurement and data processing were controlled by microcomputer. During measurement impedance of LSIP decreased correspondingly with the increase of voltage and vice versa, but the value of impedance was not exceeded 100kΩ in spite of increasing or decreasing the voltage. That is, low impedance is the inherent characteristics of LSIP. On the contrary, the impedance of non-LSIP remained in higher than 600kΩ in most of cases during increasing voltage from 10 to 50v. As the voltage increased to 65v, the impedance in a part of non-LSIP decreased to such a low level as LSIP. However, their impedance increased rapidly to high level again once the measuring voltage decreased. The above results reveal that the response of non-LSIPs and LSIPs were different from each other in nature. Increasing the voltage could not change a non-LSIP into LSIP.

  22. Xiang ZZ, Ming XR, Gou XJ, Zhuang YS. Experimental meridian line of stomach and its low impedance nature. Acupunct Electrother Res 1984; 9 (3):157-64.Because of electrical impulse stimulation which was created at Stomach 45, patients were able to feel a sensation along the classical stomach channel. Skin impedance along the area of sensation was lower than adjacent areas.Abstract:Applying electrical impulse stimuli at the Jing point (St. 45) and then tapping on the skin surface along the vertical lines crossing the channel of the stomach, the line of latent propagated sensation along channel (LPSC) was determined in 51 patients at the acupuncture clinic. Of the cases examined, 98 percent were found to have positive LPSC lines which were basically coincident with the classical stomach channel. Using a low frequency skin impedance detector, the skin impedance of the entire lines of LPSC was found to be lower than its adjacent areas.

  23. Zhang W, Xu R, Zhu Z. The influence of acupuncture on the impedance measured by four electrodes on meridians. Acupunct Electrother Res 1999; 24(3-4):181-88.Interstitial fluid and blood capillary expansion may be one of the mechanisms of acupuncture regulation.Abstract:The impedance on the pericardium merdian near Quze (P3) and control points in 12 cases was measured by a four electrodes impedance instrument. The amplitude of impedance was recorded before, during and after needling the Neiguan. The result showed that the mean impedance on the meridian and control points before the needling were 52.8 +/- 11.0 (Ω) and 61.7 +/- 10.3 (Ω) respectively which had significant difference (P<0.05). During the needling, impedance decreased significantly on the meridian by 9.2 +/- 5.6 (Ω) (P<0.001) while impedance decreased by only 0.12 +/- 2.4 (Ω) on control points without significance (P>0.05). The impedance changed back to 51.1 +/- 11.3 (Ω) and 59.9 +/- 11.0 (Ω) on the meridian and control points respectively during the 5-10 minutes after withdrawing the needling. In some cases, impedance changed intermittently during the needlingexperiment implies that interstitial fluid increases during the needling by axon reflection and blood capillary expanding which may be one of the mechanisms of acupuncture regulation.




Meridian Anatomy

  1. Ahn AC, Park M, Shaw JR, McManus CA, Kaptchuk TJ, Langevin HM. Electrical impedance of acupuncture meridians: the relevance of subcutaneous collagenous bands. PloS ONE 2010; 5(7): e11907.Because acupuncture meridians and points have been found to overlie fascial planes between muscles, a study was developed to analyze whether echogenic collagenous bands, which are represented by increased ultrasound echnogenicity, can account for impedance differences.Abstract:BACKGROUND: The scientific basis for acupuncture meridians is unknown. Past studies have suggested that acupuncture meridians are physiologically characterized by low electrical impedance and anatomically associated with connective tissue planes. We are interested in seeing whether acupuncture meridians are associated with lower electrical impedance and whether ultrasound-derived measures – specifically echogenic collagenous bands – can account for these impedance differences. METHODS/RESULTS: In 28 healthy subjects, we assessed electrical impedance of skin and underlying subcutaneous connective tissue using a four needle-electrode approach. The impedances were obtained at 10 kHz and 100 kHz frequencies and at three body sites – upper arm (Large Intestine meridian), thigh (Liver), and lower leg (Bladder). Meridian locations were determined by acupuncturists. Ultrasound images were obtained to characterize the anatomical features at each measured site. We found significantly reduced electrical impedance at the Large Intestine meridian compared to adjacent control for both frequencies. No significant decrease in impedance was found at the Liver or Bladder meridian. Greater subcutaneous echogenic densities were significantly associated with reduced impedances in both within-site (meridian vs. adjacent control) and between-site (arm vs. thigh vs. lower leg) analyses. This relationship remained significant in multivariable analyses which also accounted for gender, needle penetration depth, subcutaneous layer thickness, and other ultrasound derived measures. CONCLUSION/SIGNIFICANCE: Collagenous bands, represented by increased ultrasound echogenicity, are significantly associated with lower electrical impedance and may account for reduced impedances previously reported at acupuncture meridians. This finding may provide important insights into the nature of acupuncture meridians and the relevance of collagen in bioelectrical measurements.

  2. Bai Y, Wang J, Wu JP, Dai JX, Sha O, Yew DTW, Yuan L, Liang Q. Review of evidence suggesting that the fascia network could be the anatomical basis for acupoints and meridians in the human body. Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine 2011; Article ID 260510.Evidence from various fields related to fascia anatomy and physiology were reviewed to determine that “the fascia network may be the anatomical basis for acupoints and meridians in the human body.”Abstract:Review: The anatomical basis for the concept of meridians in traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) has not been resolved. This paper reviews the evidence supporting a relationship between acupuncture points/meridians and fascia. The reviewed evidence supports the view that the human body’s fascia network may be the physical substrate represented by the meridians of TCM. Specifically, this hypothesis is supported by anatomical observations of body scan data demonstrating that the fascia network resembles the theoretical meridian system in salient ways, as well as physiological, histological, and clinical observations. This view represents a theoretical basis and means for applying modern biomedical research to examining TCM principles and therapies, and it favors a holistic approach to diagnosis and treatment.

  3. Langegin HM, Yandow JA. Relationship of acupuncture points and meridians to connective tissue planes. Anat Rec, Vol 269, pp. 257-265, 2002.This article links traditional Chinese acupuncture theory with conventional anatomy. It is hypothesized that network and acupuncture meridians can be linked to the interstitial connective tissue and that this relationship is relevant to the therapeutic mechanisms of acupuncture.Abstract:Acupuncture meridians traditionally are believed to constitute channels connecting the surface of the body to internal organs. We hypothesize that the network of acupuncture points and meridians can be viewed as a representation of the network formed by interstitial connective tissue. This hypothesis is supported by ultrasound images showing connective tissue cleavage planes at acupuncture points in normal human subjects. To test this hypothesis, we mapped acupuncture points in serial gross anatomical sections through the human arm. We found an 80% correspondence between the sites of acupuncture points and the location of intermuscular or intramuscular connective tissue planes in postmortem tissue sections. We propose that the anatomical relationship of acupuncture points and meridians to connective tissue planes is relevant to acupuncture?s mechanism of action and suggests a potentially important integrative role for interstitial connective tissue.

  4. Langevin HM, Bouffard NA, Badger GR, Churchill DL, Howe AC. Subcutaneous tissue fibroblast cytoskeletal remodeling induced by acupuncture: evidence for a mechanotransduction-based mechanism. Journal of Cellular Physiology 2006; 207(3):767-74.Rotation of acupuncture needles induce an active cytoskeletal response in connective tissue fibroblasts—an important step in understanding cellular mechanotransduction responses to externally applied mechanical forces in whole connective tissue.Abstract:Acupuncture needle rotation has been previously shown to cause specific mechanical stimulation of subcutaneous connective tissue. This study uses acupuncture to investigate the role of mechanotransduction-based mechanisms in mechanically-induced cytoskeletal remodeling. The effect of acupuncture needle rotation was quantified by morphometric analysis of mouse tissue explants imaged with confocal microscopy. Needle rotation induced extensive fibroblast spreading and lamellipodia formation within 30 min, measurable as an increased in cell body cross sectional area. The effect of rotation peaked with two needle revolutions and decreased with further increases in rotation. Significant effects of rotation were present throughout the tissue, indicating the presence of a response extending laterally over several centimeters. The effect of rotation with two needle revolutions was prevented by pharmacological inhibitors of actomyosin contractility (blebbistatin), Rho kinase (Y-27632 and H-1152), and Rac signaling. The active cytoskeletal response of fibroblasts demonstrated in this study constitutes an important step in understanding cellular mechanotransduction responses to externally applied mechanical stimuli in whole tissue, and supports a previously proposed model for the mechanism of acupuncture involving connective tissue mechanotransduction.

  5. Langevin HM, Churchill DL, Wu J, Badger GJ, Yandow JA, Fox JR, Krag MH. Evidence of connective tissue involvement in acupuncture. FASEB Journal 2002; 16(8):872-74.The goal of this study was to determine whether muscle or subcutaneous tissue is responsible for needle grasp.Abstract:Acupuncture needle manipulation gives rise to “needle grasp,” a biomechanical phenomenon characterized by an increase in the force necessary to pull the needle out of the tissue (pullout force). This study investigates the hypothesis that winding of connective tissue, rather than muscle contraction, is the mechanism responsible for needle grasp. We performed 1) measurements of pullout force in humans with and without needle penetration of muscle; 2) measurements of pullout force in anesthetized rats, with and without needle rotation, followed by measurements of connective tissue volume surrounding the needle; 3) imaging of rat abdominal wall explants, with and without needle rotation, using ultrasound scanning acoustic microscopy. We found 1) no evidence that increased penetration of muscle results in greater pullout force than increased penetration of subcutaneous tissue; 2) that both pullout force and subcutaneous tissue volume were increased by needle rotation; 3) that increased periodic architectural order was present in subcutaneous tissue with rotation, compared with no rotation. These data support connective tissue winding as the mechanism responsible for the increase in pullout force induced by needle rotation. Winding may allow needle movements to deliver a mechanical signal into the tissue and may be key to acupuncture’s therapeutic mechanism.

  6. Langevin HM, Yandow JA. Relationship of acupuncture points and meridians to connective tissue planes. The Anatomical Record 2002; 269(6):257-65.“Findings suggest that the location of acupuncture points, determined empirically by the ancient Chinese, was based on palpitation of discrete locations or ‘holes’ where the needle can access greater amounts of connective tissue.”Abstract:Acupuncture meridians traditionally are believed to constitute channels connecting the surface of the body to internal organs. We hypothesize that the network of acupuncture points and meridians can be viewed as a representation of the network formed by interstitial connective tissue. This hypothesis is supported by ultrasound images showing connective tissue cleavage planes at acupuncture points in normal human subjects. To test this hypothesis, we mapped acupuncture points in serial gross anatomical sections through the human arm. We found an 80% correspondence between the sites of acupuncture points and the location of intermuscular or intramuscular connective tissue planes in postmortem tissue sections. We propose that the anatomical relationship of acupuncture points and meridians to connective tissue planes is relevant to acupuncture’s mechanism of action and suggests a potentially important integrative role for interstitial connective tissue.






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