In addition to the 12 main acupuncture meridians that flow along the surface of the body, there are also deeper channels of energy in the body called the Extraordinary Vessels. You can understand the relationship between the primary acupuncture channels and the Extraordinary Vessels by thinking about what happens when it rains: first, small ditches become full – these are the collateral vessels that break off of the 12 main channels. Next, the reservoirs become full, which are the 12 primary channels. When full, these channels overflow into the Extraordinary Vessels, which are deep, vast lakes of energy within the body.
The Dai Mai, or Girdle Vessel, is one such Extraordinary Vessel. It is unique because it is the only channel – primary or extraordinary – that flows horizontally. The Dai Mai originates from the liver meridian at a point on lateral side of the ribs. It descends to the waist line and encircles the waist like a belt. From there, it connects with a side branch of the kidney meridian on the backside of the body.
The Dai Mai divides the body into upper and lower halves. It’s essential function is tof keep energy flowing effectively between those the halves. If Dai Mai is too tight energy can’t flow properly. This may cause pain, sluggishness or a feeling of heaviness through the entire body. It can also cut off energy circulation to the legs, causing pain, cold legs and tense outer leg muscles.
If Dai Mai is slack or weak, energy can’t rise properly,. This can cause yet additional health problems. When Dai Mai is too weak or loose, fluids and dampness can pool in the lower body, causing symptoms such as difficult urination, cloudy urine and excessive vaginal discharge. A weak Dai Mai also means energy won’t flow properly into the channels of the legs, leading to muscle weakness and atrophy. When Dai Mai is weak, it can’t adequately hold the kidney’s ‘essence’, which depletes many other Extraordinary Vessels. This weakness will also prevent energy rising up through the body and can leadito such problems as hernias, organ prolapse and recurrent miscarriages.
Dai Mai is closely related to the liver and gallbladder energy systems, based on its trajectory and overlapping points. It helps regulate excessive energy in those systems. It is useful for treating symptoms i.e., temporal headaches, migraines, anger, gallbladder pain and chronic neck and shoulder tension.
Based on its pathway, Mai can also be used to effectively treat pain in the abdomen, low back and hip. Treatments include acupuncture, Chinese herbal medicine, tai chi, qi gong and various other exercises.