From the Anatomical Discovery of Meridians and Collaterals to Fasciaology Theory
The theory of meridians and collaterals is the basis of acupuncture in the traditional Chinese medicine; however, their anatomical existence is still unknown. The aim of this study was to investigate the anatomical basis of acupoints and meridians. Based on the digital datasets of Virtual Chinese human (VCH) bodies, 3-dimensional (3D) structures of virtual meridians and fascia connective tissue-gathering areas were constructed, and they were compared with each other. The shortest distances between virtual acupoints and constructed fascia connective tissues were measured. 3D structures of fascia connective tissue-gathering areas were also constructed based on CT and MRI images of living human bodies, and also compared with meridians. 3D structures of fascia connective tissue-gathering areas in the VCH bodies showed a pattern of beads-on-strings. Furthermore, the distances between the fascia strings and virtual meridians were close. More fascia connective tissue areas were constructed, more string-like structures were found. When 3D structures of all fascia connective tissues through over the body were constructed, a body-shaped connective tissue network appeared. 3D structures of fascia connective tissue-gathering areas constructed from both CT and MRI images also appeared beads-on-string patterns and colocalized with traditional Chinese meridians. The fascia network all over the body is the anatomical basis of acupoints and meridians in the traditional Chinese medicine. The histological composition of Meridian is the nonspecific connective tissue (including loose connective tissue and fat tissue). Therefore, we put forward a new approach for division of anatomical discipline. According to this method, the human body consists of two major systems: one is the supporting and storing system and the other is the functional system. The anatomical discipline which based is on this division method is named fascial anatomy. The discipline which studies the supporting and storing system and the mutual relationship between this system and the functional system, the latter is made of differentiated cells, is named fasciaology.
KeywordsConnective Tissue Functional System Massage Therapy Loose Connective Tissue Histological Composition
The work described in this paper was supported by the following funding agencies: The National Basic Research Program (also called 973 Program) (Grant No.2007CB512705). National Natural Science Foundation of China (Grant No.30801464).
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