The theory behind acupoints can be complex and rich in detail, yet really quite easy to grasp. The following will outline the basics of acupuncture theory and provide a springboard for further investigation into the depths of Chinese medical theory.

     Most basically, meridians or energetic lines have been mapped throughout the human body by Chinese alchemist many years ago. These meridians flow within the body and not on the surface. In ancient internal alchemy theory, there are eight vessels that flow into the primary twelve meridians. The most important are the two primary vessels which are called Conception and Governing or the Microcosmic Orbit. These two vessels insure vital life energy is flowing through the body. The other six vessels act like conduits from the two primary vessels to flow into the twelve meridians. There is no addition points listed for six extraordinary vessels as they are same points listed within the twelve meridians. These six additional vessels are called the following Thrusting, Girdle, Yang Heel, Yin Heel, Yang Linking, and Yin Linking Vessels.
     Each of the twelve meridians has corresponding pair for the left and right side of the body with many acupoints along its path. The meridian system consists of twelve main channels which are pared for a total of twenty-four medians. Each channel or meridian has many specific, recognized as both acupressure and acupuncture points. Although the meridians themselves are not thought of as physically identifiable, their existence is proved by observation of the effect of stimulating various pressure points. The theory and practice of acupressure developed hand in hand as practitioners observed the effects of different kinds of pressure on different specific areas of the body. The meridian system can be thought of as an energetic distribution network that in itself tends toward an energetic manifestation. Many charts and graphs exist that show the meridian pathways of the body.
     Another feature that is always present on a meridian chart of the human body is the specific points that are marked upon the individual meridian. These specific points are known as acupoints. Some channels appear to have many points distributed among them, some have fewer; some points are grouped closely together and others more distantly. These acupoints along the meridian channels can be thought of as access points to the flow of chi, or energy, in the body.
     The idea of Chi flow in the body could be thought of as a river. A river has a source and it follows its course ultimately toward the ocean. As the river flows, it will vary from shallow to deep, quick flowing to slow flowing, while always following the most ‘natural’ path. If we use this analogy of a river, we can think about a whirlpool in that river and consider how the whirlpool effect draws everything down into the heart of the river. This whirlpool is a vortex that gives access to the depth of the river at this point. We can consider acupoints as ‘energy vortices’ that draw Chi into or out of the body’s energy flow and provide access points at which the Chi flow of the body can be directly influenced from the outside.
     Simple pressure on a specific point or ‘energy vortex’ will produce changes in the energy system, with consequent physical effects. This provides the basis for simple acupressure treatment. We do this simple acupressure technique naturally when we rub our temples when we have a headache or massage our lower back when it aches. Acupuncture simply takes this a stage further. On the contrary, fiercely attacking specific acupoints will have detrimental effects to the body. It will be wise to practice these points with care as significant harm can occur when using these points.