The Channels and Points
The term meridian, though widely used, is misleading; ‘channel’ is a better translation of the Chinese term (ching), since the idea is that there are subtle vessels running throughout the body to connect the organs and carry chi. Diagrams of the channels represent them as if they were lying on the surface of the body, but in fact they are to be thought of as running at a variable depth inside the body and only coming the surface at certain places. (They have been compared to the Underground District Line.)
The acupuncture points mostly lie on the channels at places where they run near the surface. A few points (the so-called extra-meridian points) do not lie on channels. Some 360-odd acupuncture points are described, but in practice a much smaller number are used. The points all have Chinese names which often sound poetic in translation (Sea of Blood, Gate of Dumbness, Crooked Spring) but Western acupuncture books use a more prosaic system of numbering, which is more or less standardized.
A total of 59 acupuncture channels is described but of these only 14 possess acupuncture points. Of the 14, 12 are paired and 2 are midline, therefore unpaired. Their names are as follows.