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The Twelve Divergent Channels

The twelve regular channels have certain courses internally pertaining to the zang-fu organs and externally to the connecting joints and limbs. Each channel also has a deviating or diverging branch penetrating the body cavity which is termed a divergent channel.

The divergents of yang channels run up from the limbs and enter into the internal organs of the chest and abdominal regions. Most of them again emerge from the nape of the neck and rejoin the yang regular channels from whence they originally branched. The divergents of the yin regular channels separate from their primary channels and travel parallel to meet with and rejoin the yang channels to which they have an exterior-interior relationship. Among these twelve divergent channels, no matter whether yin or yang, all start their deviation from the area above the knee or elbow and finally reunite only with the six yang channels. Internally, both yin and yang divergent enter the chest and abdomen to associate with the pertaining zang or fu organs to which their parent regular channel has an exterior-interior relationship. In addition, the divergent channels of the three foot yang regular channels pass through the heart and travel up to the head region. The divergent channels of the three hand yang regular channels penetrate through to the internal organs from the axillary fossa, and proceed through the throat, to arrive at the head and facial regions.

The main function of the twelve divergent channels is to strengthen the exterior-interior relationship of the twelve regular channels and so form closer ties between all parts of the body.

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