Search JIM Advanced Search

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

• Golbal Views • Previous Articles     Next Articles

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: Zong-ming Zhang; E-mail address:

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

[1] Chiung-Hui Huang, Mei-Ling Yeh, Fang-Pey Chen, Daphne Wu. Low-level laser acupuncture reduces postoperative pain and morphine consumption in older patients with total knee arthroplasty: A randomized placebo-controlled trial. Journal of Integrative Medicine, 2022, 20(4): 321-328.
[2] Ming-min Xu, Pei Guo, Qing-yu Ma, Xuan Zhou, Yu-long Wei, Lu Wang, Yue Chen, Yu Guo. Can acupuncture enhance therapeutic effectiveness of antidepressants and reduce adverse drug reactions in patients with depression? A systematic review and meta-analysis. Journal of Integrative Medicine, 2022, 20(4): 305-320.
[3] Yen-Lin Chao, Yi-Ai Rau, Hong-Sheng Shiue, Jiun-Lin Yan, Yuan-Yun Tang, Shao-Wen Yu, Bo-Yan Yeh, Yen-Lung Chen, Tsung-Hsien Yang, Shu-Chen Cheng, Yi-Wen Hsieh, Hsin-Chia Huang, Fu-Kuang Tsai, Yu-Sheng Chen, Geng-Hao Liu. Using a consensus acupoints regimen to explore the relationship between acupuncture sensation and lumbar spinal postoperative analgesia: A retrospective analysis of prospective clinical cooperation. Journal of Integrative Medicine, 2022, 20(4): 329-337.
[4] Sergey Filist, Riad Taha Al-Kasasbeh, Olga Shatalova, Nikolay Korenevskiy, Ashraf Shaqadan, Zeinab Protasova, Maksim Ilyash, Mikhail Lukashov. Biotechnical system based on fuzzy logic prediction for surgical risk classification using analysis of current-voltage characteristics of acupuncture points. Journal of Integrative Medicine, 2022, 20(3): 252-264.
[5] Lu Yin, Yun An, Xiao Chen, Hui-xin Yan, Tao Zhang, Xin-gang Lu, Jun-tao Yan. Local vibration therapy promotes the recovery of nerve function in rats with sciatic nerve injury. Journal of Integrative Medicine, 2022, 20(3): 265-273.
[6] Ting-ting Lu, Cun-cun Lu, Mei-xuan Li, Li-xin Ke, Hui Cai, Ke-hu Yang. Reporting and methodological quality of meta-analyses of acupuncture for patients with migraine: A methodological investigation with evidence map. Journal of Integrative Medicine, 2022, 20(3): 213-220.
[7] Xiang-yu Wei, Shi-lei Luo, HuiChen, Shan-shan Liu, Zhi-gang Gong, Song-huaZhan. Functional connectivity changes during migraine treatment with electroacupuncture at Shuaigu (GB8). Journal of Integrative Medicine, 2022, 20(3): 237-243.
[8] Samwel Sylvester Msigwa, Yan Li, Xiang-lin Cheng, Fen Cao. Combining electroacupuncture and transcranial direct current stimulation as an adjuvant therapy enhances spontaneous conversation and naming in subacute vascular aphasia: A retrospective analysis. Journal of Integrative Medicine, 2022, 20(3): 244-251.
[9] Bin Zhao, Yong Chen, Shi-min Liao, Jian-ying Zheng, Shi-hua Yan, Dong-shu Zhang. Successfully treated recalcitrant atopic eczema with acupoint autohemotherapy: A case report and hypothesized mechanism of the therapy. Journal of Integrative Medicine, 2022, 20(2): 182-186.
[10] Jun-peng Yao, Li-ping Chen, Xian-jun Xiao, Ting-hui Hou, Si-yuan Zhou, Ming-min Xu, Kai Wang, Yu-jun Hou, Lin Zhang, Ying Li. Effectiveness and safety of acupuncture for treating functional constipation: An overview of systematic reviews. Journal of Integrative Medicine, 2022, 20(1): 13-25.
[11] Xin Yin, Shu-bin Cai, Lan-ting Tao, Lu-ming Chen, Zhong-de Zhang, Su-hong Xiao, Arthur Yin Fan, Xu Zou. Recovery of a patient with severe COVID-19 by acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine adjuvant to standard care. Journal of Integrative Medicine, 2021, 19(5): 460-466.
[12] Thomas Efferth, An-long Xu, Roxana Damiescu, Mita Banerjee, Norbert W. Paul, David Y.W. Lee. Can eastern wisdom resolve western epidemics? Traditional chinese medicine therapies and the opioid crisis. Journal of Integrative Medicine, 2021, 19(4): 295-299.
[13] Wen-jing Li, Chao Gao, Li-xin An, Yu-wei Ji, Fu-shan Xue, Yi Du. Perioperative transcutaneous electrical acupoint stimulation for improving postoperative gastrointestinal function: A randomized controlled trial. Journal of Integrative Medicine, 2021, 19(3): 211-218.
[14] Mohamed Ismail Nounou, Heba A. Eassa, Nada A. Helal, Khaled Aboul Fotouh, Ihab Mansoor, Isabel K. Latz, Cindy Zheng, Hadeer A. Eassa, Dina Mohamed, Diana M. Huynh, Abigail R. Wiss, Jessica Sweeney, Monica T. Oakes, Mark M. Mikhail, Nadine Amine, Harshvir Kaur, Natalia Echeverry, Kamila Orzechowski, Doreen Szollosi. The safety, efficacy and pharmaceutical quality of male enhancement nutraceuticals bought online: Truth versus claim. Journal of Integrative Medicine, 2021, 19(3): 232-242.
[15] Qiu-yu Tong, Ran Liu, Kun Zhang, Yuan Gao, Guang-wei Cui, Wei-dong Shen. Can acupuncture therapy reduce preoperative anxiety? A systematic review and meta-analysis. Journal of Integrative Medicine, 2021, 19(1): 20-28.
Full text



[1] Dong Yang, Yong-ping Du, Qing Shen, Wei Chen, Yan Yu, Guang-lei Chen. Expression of alpha-smooth muscle actin in renal tubulointerstitium in patients with kidney collateral stasis. Journal of Chinese Integrative Medicine, 2008, 6(1): 41-44
[2] Hai-feng Wei, Bai-liu Ya, Ling Zhao, Cui-fei Ye, Li Zhang, Lin Li. Evaluation of tongue manifestation of blood stasis syndrome and its relationship with blood rheological disorder in a rat model of transient brain ischemia. Journal of Chinese Integrative Medicine, 2008, 6(1): 73-76
[3] Xi Lin, Jian-ping Liu. Herbal medicines for viral myocarditis. Journal of Chinese Integrative Medicine, 2008, 6(1): 76
[4] Xi Lin, Jian-ping Liu. Tai chi for treating rheumatoid arthritis. Journal of Chinese Integrative Medicine, 2008, 6(1): 82
[5] Liang-ping Hu, Hui Gao. Discrimination of errors in statistical analysis of medical papers published in the first issue of 2006 in Journal of Chinese Integrative Medicine. Journal of Chinese Integrative Medicine, 2008, 6(1): 98-106
[6] Yan-bo Zhu , Qi Wang, Cheng-yu Wu, Guo-ming Pang, Jian-xiong Zhao, Shi-lin Shen, Zhong-yuan Xia , Xue Yan . Logistic regression analysis on relationships between traditional Chinese medicine constitutional types and overweight or obesity. Journal of Chinese Integrative Medicine, 2010, 8(11): 1023-1035
[7] Wei Xu, Meng Shi, Jian-gang Liu, Cheng-long Wang . Collagen protein expressions in ischemic myocardium of rats with acute myocardial infarction and effects of qi-tonifying, yin-tonifying and blood-activating herbs and detoxifying and blood-activating herbs. Journal of Chinese Integrative Medicine, 2010, 8(11): 1041-1047
[8] Ying Xu , Chang-chun Zeng , Xiu-yu Cai , Rong-ping Guo , Guang Nie , Ying Jin. Chromaticity and optical spectrum colorimetry of the tongue color in different syndromes of primary hepatic carcinoma. Journal of Chinese Integrative Medicine, 2012, 10(11): 1263-1271
[9] Xiang-ying Mao , Qin Bian , Zi-yin Shen. Analysis of the osteogenetic effects exerted on mesenchymal stem cell strain C3H10T1/2 by icariin via MAPK signaling pathway in vitro. Journal of Chinese Integrative Medicine, 2012, 10(11): 1272-1278
[10] Veena Sharma , Pracheta Janmeda , Ritu Paliwal , Shatruhan Sharma. Antihepatotoxic activity of Euphorbia neriifolia extract against N-nitrosodiethylamine-induced hepatocarcinogenesis in mice. Journal of Chinese Integrative Medicine, 2012, 10(11): 1303-1309