Anatomical Evidence of Acupuncture Meridians in the Human Extracellular Matrix: Results from a Macroscopic and Microscopic Interdisciplinary Multicentre Study on Human Corpses

Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2019 Mar 21;2019:6976892. doi: 10.1155/2019/6976892. eCollection 2019.

Abstract

For more than 2500 years, acupuncture has been applied to support the healing of different diseases and physiologic malfunctions. Although various theories of the meridian system and mechanisms were formulated to explain the functional basis of acupuncture, the anatomical basis for the concept of meridians has not been resolved. The aim of the present study was to search for replicable anatomical structures that could relate to meridians. To this end, four human specimens and additionally two lower legs were dissected anatomically. Our study found evidence that acupuncture meridians were part of the human extracellular matrix and that fascia was an important part of the anatomic substrate of acupuncture meridians. At the same time, we found vessel-nerve-bundles, which were hypothesized to account for 80% of acupuncture points, only in a few acupuncture points. Therefore, our findings contradict the theory that acupuncture points are only located along the nervous channels.