Neuroanatomic Basis of Acupuncture Points

  • Fei Zhou
  • Dengkai Huang
  • YingXiaEmail author


Acupoints, the sites on the body for acupuncture therapy, have relatively special structure that receives the acupuncture signals. Anatomically, acupoints have abundant nerves, muscles, vessels, and tendon. Histologically, there are various kinds of free nerve endings, receptors, Ruffini corpuscles, Meissner corpuscles, Krause corpuscles, lamellated corpuscles, and muscle spindle around the acupoints. The complexity of these tissues are presumed to be responsible for the acupuncture sensation at acupoints. Type II and III fibers of the afferent nerves may mediate the afferent transmission of the acupuncture signals. In the central nervous system (CNS), the spinal cord, brainstem, hypothalamus, thalamus, and cerebral cortex integrate the afferent signals of the acupuncture and form regulatory outputs via afferent pathways. In addition, there exists a strong relationship between the meridian-points and viscera in terms of nerve connection. The mechanism underlying the interaction between the meridian-points and viscera is related to the segmental innervations and convergence of the somatic and autonomic nerves at the same spinal segments. Although there have been numerous theories concerning meridians and points, we believe that the peripheral nervous system forms the main basis of acupoints as well as afferent and efferent pathways of the acupuncture signals.


acupuncture signal acupoint meridian and collateral anatomic structure nerve 


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© Tsinghua University Press, Beijing and Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Shanghai Research Center for Acupuncture and MeridiansShanghaiP.R. China
  2. 2.Shanghai Medical College of Fudan UniversityShanghaiP.R. China
  3. 3.Yale University School of MedicineNew HavenUSA

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