In this excerpt from Anadi Martel’s book. ‘Light Therapies’, the author discusses various studies investigating the nature of acupuncture meridians, and their relation to light.
Acupuncture (and its sister therapy, acupressure) is one of the most ancient techniques of energy medicine still being used today all over the world. It is based on the application of pressure or a needle to specific cutaneous reflex points or acupuncture points, which are all interconnected along energetic passageways called meridians.
In the original model of traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), these meridians are a sort of highway along which vital energy, or chi, circulates. Although the clinical validity of acupuncture has been amply demonstrated, it has proved nearly impossible to detect these hypothetical meridians at the anatomical level. It could be because they are none other than circuits embedded within the matrix of connective tissue, indistinguishable from this matrix.
Whatever the case may be, many researchers have been able to locate acupuncture points using measurement instruments that detect variations in the flow of tiny electrical currents applied at various points on the body. Some have come across differences in the electric impedance at the level of the acupuncture points, while others have succeeded in tracing the meridians through impedance or electrical capacitance measurements.
Ahn et al. (2008) completed a meta-analysis of eighteen studies of this type that offered a partial proof of the physical existence of meridians. Using a different approach, Cho et al. (1998) stimulated some acupuncture points on the foot and observed through functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) the corresponding cerebral reaction, which closely matched the type of vital function associated in traditional Chinese medicine with the meridian being stimulated.
Other researchers have developed sophisticated systems based on the bioelectric measurement of acupuncture points. Among the most notable is that of Dr. Reinhard Voll, a German medical doctor who, starting in the 1950s, dedicated more than forty years to elaborating his theory of electro-acupuncture. His method was documented and proven in over a decade of hospital studies in Germany and is today widely used throughout Europe. In the United States it is growing in acceptance, particularly by medical practitioners who specialize in a holistic approach.
As we will see in the following chapter, many systems of therapeutic light used in alternative medicine today are based on a variation of acupuncture and consist of applying colored light rather than acupuncture needles to the points. These different approaches accept that the meridians are capable of transporting luminous energy, which is entirely plausible when one considers the crystalline, semiconductive nature of the connective tissue.
This viewpoint received support in 1991 when Russian physician Vlail Kasnacheyev projected light on acupuncture points and observed their reemergence from other points located along the same meridian (Pankratov 1991). Similar findings were documented in a 1992 study by Yan et al. in which channels with high luminescence properties were observed in places where meridians are expected. This was confirmed by a study by Schlebusch, Maric-Oehler, and Popp (2005), in which infrared thermography revealed meridians during light stimulation performed with moxibustion (a technique in which a burning herbal stick is brought near acupuncture points).
In recent years, Korean biophysicist Kwang-Sup Soh has revived results claimed by a North Korean researcher in the 1960s, Bong-Han Kim. The latter had reported the discovery of a system of previously unknown microscopic threadlike structures running throughout the body, in the skin as well as on the surface of organs and inside blood vessels.
No one could reproduce his findings until 2004, when Soh and his team developed special staining techniques enabling the observation of these transparent, nearly invisible structures (known as Bonghan ducts) barely 50 micrometers across, which are now considered to be meridians (Soh 2004; Soh, Kang, and Ryu 2013).
Are Meridians Energetic Rather than Physiological?
It seems possible that the meridians are not physical at all but purely energetic. Chinese biophysicist Chang Lin Zhang (2008) says that acupuncture points might correspond to the nodes of resonance of internal electromagnetic waves. These waves hypothetically issue from a coherence network in the body and form relatively stable standing wave patterns.
One can visualize patterns of this type through a method invented in 1787 by German physicist Ernst Chladni, which enables us to see the standing waves that naturally occur in many vibrational phenomena.
Several modern versions of this technique exist, notably in cymatics, a term coined by Swiss physician Hans Jenny to refer to the visualization of multimodal vibrational patterns in various media. The surprising complexity of the shapes obtained when, for example, sound vibrates water droplets on a flat surface beautifully illustrates the organizational power of resonance and coherence (a subject discussed further in chapter 10).
Professor Zhang’s theory has the advantage of explaining certain puzzling bioelectrical observations, such as the fact that the position and electrical conductivity of acupuncture points fluctuate according to one’s health, and these fluctuations affect all points simultaneously.
If the points are nodes of resonance on an internal wave, one would expect that any change in the conditions sustaining that wave would affect the whole internal interference pattern. According to this concept, wherein the meridians are a reflection of vibrational phenomena, it would be useless to try to establish their physiological traces in the body.
An excerpt from the book, Light Therapies by Anadi Martel © 2018 Healing Arts Press. Printed with permission from the publisher, Inner Traditions International. www.InnerTraditions.com
Light Therapies: A complete guide to the Healing Power of Light
by Anadi Martel
Publisher: Healing Arts Press (USA), a division of Inner Traditions
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