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Journal of Integrative Medicine ›› 2022, Vol. 20 ›› Issue (2): 96-103.doi: 10.1016/j.joim.2021.11.006

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A "4D" systemic view on meridian essence: Substantial, functional, chronological and cultural attributes

Xiao Ye a,b, Yu-lan Ren c, Yun-hui Chen d,e, Ji Chen f, Xiao-jiao Tang g, Zong-ming Zhang a   

  1. a Institute of Literature in Chinese Medicine, Nanjing University of Chinese Medicine, Nanjing 210023, Jiangsu Province, China
    b Humanities and Management School, Zhejiang Chinese Medical University, Hangzhou 310053, Zhejiang Province, China
    c School of Chinese Classics, Chengdu University of Traditional Chinese Medicine, Chengdu 611137, Sichuan Province, China
    d School of Basic Medicine, Chengdu University of Traditional Chinese Medicine, Chengdu 611137, Sichuan Province, China
    e State Key Laboratory of Biotherapy, West China Hospital of Sichuan University, Chengdu 610041, Sichuan Province, China
    f School of Foreign Languages, Chengdu University of Traditional Chinese Medicine, Chengdu 611137, Sichuan Province, China
    g School of Basic Medicine, Zhejiang Chinese Medical University, Hangzhou 310053, Zhejiang Province, China
  • Received:2021-02-02 Accepted:2021-10-22 Online:2022-03-25 Published:2021-11-27
  • Contact: Yun-hui Chen; E-mail address: chenyunhui@cdutcm.edu.cn Zong-ming Zhang; E-mail address: 13952092536@163.com

The term Jingluo, translated as meridian or channel, is a core component of traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) and has played a fundamental role in guiding the clinical practice of acupuncture for thousands of years. However, the essence of the meridian remains elusive and is a source of both confusion and debate for researchers. In this study, a “4D” systemic view on the essence of the meridian, namely substantial, functional, chronological, and cultural dimensions, was proposed based on a review of the ancient medical classics, recent research developments, and results from clinical practice. Previous studies have primarily focused on the substantial dimension of the meridian system, with scant interpretation about its functional domain. Neither systemic data nor evaluations have been adequately documented. Additionally, a limited but increasing number of studies have focused on the chronological and cultural dimensions. More investigations that embody the holistic concept of TCM and integrate the systemic modes and advanced techniques with dominant diseases of TCM need to be performed to obtain a more comprehensive understanding of the essence of meridians. The goal of this study is to yield useful information in understanding the essence of meridians and provide a reference and perspective for further research.

Key words: Acupuncture, Meridian, Essence, Substance, Function, Chronology, Culture

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