The Eight Extra Channels

The eight extra channels are not directly linked to the major organ systems and only two of them have acupuncture points on them. The eight extra channels are:
  • Ren Mai - Conception vessel,
  • Du Mai - Governing vessel,
  • Chong Mai - Penetrating vessel,
  • Dai Mai - Girdle vessel,
  • Yin Wei Mai - Yin linking vessel,
  • Yang Wei Mai - Yang linking vessel,
  • Yin Qiao Mai - Yin heel vessel,
  • Yang Qiao Mai - Yang heel vessel,

Du Mai (Governing Vessel)

The Du Mai governs all the yang channels. Weakness here is associated with symptoms such as stiffness, back pain, and headaches. It runs from the anus, up the spine and across the crown of the head to finish inside the upper lip.

Ren Mai (Conception Vessel)

Ren also means "responsibility," and so the Conception Vessel is seen as being responsible for, or accountable to, all the other yin channels. It starts in the uterus and is particularly associated with pregnancy and childbirth. Miscarriage, for example, can be associated with weakness in the Ren Mai. General debility and physical weakness can also be linked to this channel.

Chong Mai (Penetrating Vessel)

The Chong Mai or "Penetrating Vessel" is also called the "Sea of the twelve channels", since it communicates with the main channels. Like the Ren Mai, it starts from the uterus and can be associated with problems in pregnancy. Problems with this channel can also manifest as abdominal pains and muscle spasms.

The Dai Mai (Girdle Vessel)

The Dai Mai (Girdle Vessel) runs around the waist like a belt and is usually described as "binding" all the channels together; problems here can be linked with back and abdominal pains.

The Yin Qiao (Yin Heel Channel)

The Yin Qiao, or yin heel channel, runs along the inside of the heel, up the front of the body and ends near the eye. Excessive sleeping is regarded in terms of Chinese medicine as a symptom of disharmony in this channel.

The Yang Qiao (Yang Heel Channel)

The Yang Qiao, or yang heel channel, starts on the outside of the heel and runs along the outer side of the leg and back to end at the back of the skull. Symptoms of disharmony here include insomnia and epilepsy.

The Yin Wei (Yin Tie Channel)

The Yin Wei, or yin tie channel, is so called, as it ties together the yin channels, connecting and regulating all of them. It starts at the front of the leg and ends in the neck. Heart pains can be a symptom of problems in this channel.

The Yang Wei (Yang Tie Channel)

The Yang Wei, or yang tie channel, fulfills a similar function to the Yin Wei, but only for the yang channels. It starts from the side of the foot and, like the Yang Qiao, ends at the back of the skull. Disharmony here may lead to such symptoms as chills and fevers.

Besides providing important links and connections for the twelve regular channels, these extra channels also help to circulate Jing around the body and act as reservoirs for Qi and Blood, helping to keep the regular channels in balance.

The extra channels also play a part in circulating the Wei Qi (defense energy) around the body. Consequently, they are considered to be important in combating external evils and preventing disease.


Return from The Eight Extra Channels to The Theory of Chinese Medicine

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