Chinese ancient medical scientists have long focused on the internal and external contacts between acupoints on the surface of the body and the viscera. The Miraculous Pivot (it is one of the earliest medical classics in China) stated, “Twelve regular channels belong to the zang-fu organs internally, and connect to the extremities and joints externally.” Traditional Chinese medicine considers acupoints as defined areas where the Qi of viscera and meridians are transfused. These include the reaction points of visceral diseases on the body surface as well as the acupuncture trigger points that promote the flow of Qi and blood, and regulate visceral function. Chinese ancient medical scientists classified the specificity of the main acupoints in the body based on the meridian doctrine, which has been instructing clinical application for about 2000 years. Laws on the domino effect of acupoints have mainly focused on conclusions to clinical experiences. Indications of some acupoints exceed the practical paradigm since the excessive extension occurred during theory derivation. The current research direction on acupuncture focuses on three aspects: the effectiveness of acupuncture and moxibustion; the relevances and associations between meridians and viscera; and the physical and chemical properties and relevant physical basis of acupoints. The relevance between meridians and viscera is the central theory in the meridian doctrine, and acupoints are regarded as an important link in the relationship between meridians and viscera. Specific relationships between acupoints and target organs exist. Stimulating different acupoints on the body surface can help deal with different diseases, especially visceral diseases. In addition, acupoints have a dual function of reflecting and treating visceral diseases. There is no systemic research available on acupoint specificity, despite current knowledge and clinical experiences, which results in a weak foundation for acupuncture theory. This study focuses on the relevance and associations between meridians and viscera. A summary of the mechanisms of acupuncture regulating visceral sensation and mobility and the specific relationships between acupoints and their target organs are presented in this review.
acupuncture somite visceral pain somato-visceral connection meridian