Metaphors, Meridians, and Physics

The metaphorical descriptions in Chinese medicine captivated my interest from the beginning. Subtle experiences in energy practices, like yoga or qi gong, often surpass the language of our concrete experience and are better represented in metaphors. The metaphor most commonly used in describing meridians, Qi, and the flow of energy is that of water flow. (Applied Channel Theory in Chinese medicine, Wang Ju-Yi, Robertson, Jason D., Eastland Press, 2008). Scientific concepts of electrical energy didn’t exist thousands of years ago. However, the flow of energy through our body can be described as rivers, streams, and bubbling wells. When there is an abundance of water, streams flow uninhibited. Rocks and logs can obstruct that flow, particularly when the water level is low. Obstructions could be removed manually, or pushed open by a flood of snow melt. In Chinese medicine, pain indicates a lack of flow, and improving the flow of Qi/energy will decrease the pain. Our meridians can become obstructed by an injury causing pain. When the general vitality is decreased, the old bumps and bruises start to ache again, just like the creek running dry and not flowing well. Acupuncture can balance the distribution of energy, and open obstructions, all leading to better function and less pain.

With the modern understanding of electricity and magnetism, we can actually measure the ionic flow of current through our interstitial fluid, which baths the fascia that surrounds muscles. (Acupuncture Energetics, Helms, Joseph M., Medical Acupuncture Publishers, 1995) This is where the meridians exist. Electrical energy, like water, flows down the path of least resistance. The equations used to represent electrodynamics and hydrodynamics are similar, as plasma physicists are well aware. ( )

While there is no need to confirm over 2000 years of Chinese medicine experience, finding these parallels in modern science takes the function of acupuncture far out of the realm of pseudo-science. I hope to bring to this blog research that is contributing to our understanding of this ancient, effective medicine.

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