The studies researching physical characteristics of acupoints and meridians result in interesting findings. Structers related with acupuncture signaling differ from surrounding tissues in their electric, acoustic, optical, magnetic, isotopic, and myoelectric properties.  There are also histological differences between acupoints and surrounding tissues including aggregations of free nerve endings, mucopolysaccharydes, and planes of connective tissue.


Ancient Chinese who discovered and described the system of influencing internal actions of the body by stimulation of externally located areas, which we call acupuncture, were mostly interested in functional level of the body. They performed dissections (as mentioned in many classics, eg ch.12 of LingShu) and carefully measured the size, weight and location of internal organs, but they didn’t put too much attention to what Westerners called anatomy. It seems they were much more interested in answering the question how the body works, than how it looks like.  In the 10th chapter of LingShu the meridians are described as invisible, running deep inside the body. Invisible means either not seen from outside or immaterial, purely functional. 

Contrary to this idea of pure function, basis of Western Medicine is formed by materialism and reductionism . That is why European  scholars rejected and ridiculed Chinese Medicine  without taking effort to understand it. That reason lies also behind the desire to find physically measurable features and/or histological description of acupuncture points and channels. Many studies were performed on this field. Surprisingly  they resulted it  interesting findings.

Ancient Chinese seemed much more interested in answering the question how the body works, than how it looks like, contrary to Western ideas based on materialism and reductuionism.
Biophysical characteristics

In 2012 very interesting article was published in “Evidence Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine”  summarizing data from various studies researching biophysical characteristics of acupuncture points and meridians(source)1. The Authors present actual state of knowledge concerning differences between acupoints and surrounding tissues.

Acoustic characteristic
  • There is a significant relationship between the tones and channels(source)2.

  • The sound wave’s amplitude is significantly higher in acupoints than non-acupuncture points(source)3.

  • Frequency of microwaves transmitted in different channels are different. Additionally frequency of microwaves transmitted along the channels in cancer patients are different from healthy control(source)4.

Optical characteristics
  • There are detectable lines of infrared radiation similar to meridians described be ancient Chinese(source)5.

  • Lines of higher temperature are formed after acupuncture along the meridians(source)6.

Thermal characteristics
  • Meridians and acupoints have high luminous biophysical properties(source)7.

Magnetic characteristics
  • There is relatively stable circular current of electromagnetic and chemical oscillation along the low electric resistance pathway (meridians?)(source)8.

Migration of isotope along meridians
  • There are channels of low hydraulic resonance along meridians causing more fluid to flow along meridian lines than in surrounding tissues(source)9.

Electric characteristics

The electric characteristics of acupuncture points have been studied for many years. The conclusions from those studies are not clear, and probably are related with different methodology using various electrodes and properties of electricity. However some characteristics of acupuncture points are described:

  • high electric potential

  • high electric conductance

  • high electric capacitance

  • low electric impedance

  • low electric resistance

Histological characteristics
  • Most of acupoints are located above large aggregations of connective tissue.

  • Most of points are located in places of high density of free nerve endings.

  • Aggregations of mucopolisaccharydes were found in acupoints. 


1 Juan Li, Qing Wang, Huiling Liang, et al., “Biophysical Characteristics of Meridians and Acupoints: A Systematic Review,” Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, vol. 2012, Article ID 793841, 6 pages, 2012. doi:10.1155/2012/793841

2 Y. C. Kim, D. M. Jeong, and M. S. Lee, “An examination of the relationship between five oriental musical tones and corresponding internal organs and meridians,” Acupuncture and Electro-Therapeutics Research, vol. 29, no. 3-4, pp. 227–233, 2004.

3 Y. L.Wei,W. Liu, J. Kong et al., “Research of human biological effects and its conduct of gong tune music,” in Chinese Music Therapy Association of the Seventh Symposium, Fuzhou, China, 2005.

4 M. A. Krevsky, E. S. Zinina, Y. Koshurinov et al., “Microwave propagation on acupuncture channels,” Acupuncture & Electro-Therapeutics Research, vol. 31, no. 1-2, pp. 1–12, 2006.

5 P. Q.Wang, X. L. Hu, J. S. Xu et al., “The indication of infrared thermal images on body surface along 14 meridian lines,” Acupuncture Research, vol. 27, no. 4, 260 pages, 2002.

6 D. Zhang, S. Y. Wang, and C. Y. Wang, “Determination of deep temperature under the line of high temperature along meridians,” Chinese Journal of Basic Medicine in Traditional Chinese Medicine, vol. 7, no. 410, 62 pages, 2001.

7 Z. Q. Yan, Y. Q. Shi, Y. Z. Wang et al., “Research on the biophysical features of strong luminescence phenomena in the 14 regular meridians of human body,” Acupuncture Research, no. 8, pp. 389–394, 1989.

8 D. Z. Li, S. T. Fu, and X. Z. Li, “Study on theory and clinical application of meridians,” Chinese Acupuncture & Moxibustion, vol. 25, no. 1, pp. 53–59, 2005.

9 W. B. Zhang, Y. Y. Tian, H. Li et al., “A discovery of low hydraulic resistance channel along meridians,” Journal of Acupuncture and Meridian Studies, vol. 1, no. 1, pp. 20–28, 2008.