Perhaps the main difference between Western and Chinese medicine is something called Qi (pronounced Chi), which is considered the life or vital force of the body. This force is “switched on” at birth and extinguished at death. Qi travels around our body daily in a systematic way, stimulating, and balancing each of the organ systems. Ill health is a sign that this vital force is in need of treatment.
Qi moves through the body and uses channels of energy called meridians. These meridians follow the energy flow from one organ to another and are linked the same way as the five elements. The liver and gallbladder are linked, the heart and small intestine, and so on.
Meridians are the connection between one set of organs and another. Think of them as an electrical wiring system just below the surface of the skin. This system is the outward connection to the inner organs. A kink in one of the wires will interrupt the energy to that set of organs.
What does a “kink” mean? It can be a scar that goes across one of the lines of energy to a major organ, causing that organ to function incorrectly. An example of this is a scar caused by the removal of front dewclaws on a dog. That point on the front leg is the major acupuncture treatment point for the large intestine. This particular meridian is used to treat skin problems, allergies and pain. Dogs that have had their front dewclaws removed have a scar. This scar “kinks” the line of energy of the meridian, and therefore these dogs have a tendency toward more skin problems and can be more pain sensitive than those dogs that have their dewclaws intact.