Governing Vessel 20
Governing Vessel 20—also known as Baihui (Chinese name), Hundred Meetings (English translation),

GV20 (acupuncturist lingo) and DU20 (alternate acupuncturist lingo)—is located on the top of the head.

If you place a finger at the top of each ear and follow an imaginary line upward, Governing Vessel 20 is

located where your two fingers converge (see picture below).

This needle really gets stuck in your head
Governing Vessel 20, perhaps more than any other acupuncture point, inspires curiosity and open mindedness. It gets people asking about acupuncture and extending themselves to expand their perspectives on health.

All of acupuncture does this. But with an unparalleled amount of consistency, Governing Vessel 20 seems to spark a shift.

Whenever I do Governing Vessel 20 in a community-acupuncture setting, almost without fail, either the person receiving the point or someone looking on will ask, why are you doing that point? And often, if one person gets the point, others in the room will ask, can I get the one on the top of the head, too?

Interest in Governing Vessel 20 isn’t limited to community acupuncture. In private settings as well, again and again, I get inquires about and requests for Governing Vessel 20.

There’s something about this point that really intrigues people.

The fascination with Governing Vessel 20 creates an opening for acupuncturists to share some acupuncture theory and perhaps a new way of looking at a problem. But more importantly, it causes the person receiving needles to reflect on why he or she is attracted to this particular point.

One of acupuncture’s most profound effects is that it brings awareness to what our bodies and minds are really asking for.

In biomedicine, the thinking is, doctor knows best about what you need—and here, this pill will do it. In acupuncture, you know best about what you need—and here, this needle might remind you. Governing Vessel 20 is a perfect example of this.

Why is everyone talking about the point on the top of the head?
And so, the obvious question: Why are so many people drawn to Governing Vessel 20?

The initial curiosity about Governing Vessel 20 usually has to do with its location. There is, after all, a needle being stuck near the brain. However, even after fears are settled—acupuncture needles cannot penetrate the skull, plus the point is always needled transversely—the intrigue remains.

It’s almost as if people inuit that a point on the tippy top of the head must mean something important. And they would be correct.

Governing Vessel 20 is the meeting point of all of the body’s Yang energy. Yang in acupuncture theory represents the energetic, extroverted aspects of a person. Yang is hot, bright, loud, firm, expanding, excessive, robust. It is the relative opposite of all things Yin—the cold, dark, quiet, contracting, deficient, weak aspects.

Someone who has too much Yang may feel warm when other people are comfortable or even chilly. He may feel agitated and irritable, or suffer from insomnia and/or experience nightmares. He may be constipated, crave cold drinks and appear red in the face. Basically there’s too much heat, and too much activity happening in the upper part of the body.

Someone with too little Yang would have the opposite presentation. He may feel constantly cold and even experience chills. He tends toward loose stools and profuse, clear urine. Feeling physically fatigued or emotionally drained is also common.

Whether it’s a case of two much or too little Yang, Governing Vessel 20 is called upon to regulate.

Governing Vessel 20 also is used on people who describe feeling “out of it” or unable to concentrate. The point helps stimulate and sharpen mental faculties, making a person more alert and present. When I was in acupuncture school, we always tapped on our Governing Vessel 20s before big exams.

For these same reasons, the point is useful for people who suffer from depression. It raises emotional energy. It also helps raise things physically. Governing Vessel 20 is used to treat cases of rectal or uterine prolapse. And since the Governing Vessel meridian follows along the entire spine, Governing Vessel 20 is an excellent point for back pain caused by poor posture.

When I describe these various functions of Governing Vessel 20 to inquiring patients, I ask them to visualize that they are being literally pulled up, straightened, from the top of the head.

Governing Vessel 20 is a conversation starter and a crowd pleaser. Now you know why. by Sara Calabro

Stomach 36
Stomach 36—also known as Zusanli (Chinese name), Leg Three Mile (English translation) and

ST36 (acupuncturist lingo)—is located on the shin. It’s found about a hand length below the

patella, just outside the prominent tibia bone. Having this point needled often produces a strong

sensation that sometimes travels down the leg.

‘Stomach’ doesn’t necessarily mean ‘digestion’
When curious patients inquire about this point and learn its name, they often assume it’s for

digestive problems. Stomach 36 is indeed one of the most commonly used points for pretty much

any digestive issue you can think of. For everything from constipation to diarrhea to heartburn to

nausea to hiccups, Stomach 36 is a likely choice.

However, Stomach 36 is used for an extremely wide variety of ailments, many of which have nothing to do with what we traditionally think of as “stomach problems.”

Even more than as a digestive aid, Stomach 36 is known primarily for its ability to invigorate.

Feeling zapped of energy? Unusually tired? Your acupuncturist is most likely going to use Stomach 36. If Liver 3 is the go-to moving point, Stomach 36 is the go-to boosting point.

Clues can be found in the sea…
In acupuncture, each meridian has an assigned he-sea point. Stomach 36 is the he-sea point on the Stomach meridian, which is one way of understanding the point’s role as an energy booster.

The Chinese character known as he refers to “connecting” or “uniting.” All he-sea points are located near the knees and elbows. They are points of connection, where the more distal parts of the body (the extremities) start to merge with the inner core (the trunk and organs).

Stomach 36 draws energy into the body’s internal reservoir, the “sea.”

But if all he-sea points are connectors, what makes Stomach 36 so special?

…and in the earth
Without getting into too much detail, all meridians have an associated element—Fire, Earth, Metal, Water or Wood—and select points along those meridians also are associated with elements. These points are known as the transporting points. They are considered the meridian’s most powerful points. Acupuncturists use them over and over again.

All elements are important. Earth, however, plays a central role. It feeds the other elements. In one way or another, Earth influences and is influenced by all elements.

For this reason, Stomach, because its element is Earth, is critical to the functioning of all other systems. Furthermore, Stomach 36 is an Earth point. So Stomach 36 is what acupuncturists call Earth-on-Earth—an Earth point on an Earth meridian.

This makes Stomach 36 doubly valuable in its ability to produce systemic effects. More specifically, because Earth—in the same way we think of the earth—is the nourishing, life-giving element, Stomach 36 is loaded with vitalizing properties. It feeds the body.

The real question is, what can’t ST36 help?
Considering Stomach 36’s Earthiness, it makes sense that the point is used so broadly.

From an acupuncture perspective, so many ailments—particularly in the West, where we’ve mastered the art of overworking ourselves to the point of complete exhaustion—stem from an underlying deficiency. The answer to much of what plagues us is nourishment.

In addition to the digestive disorders mentioned above, Stomach 36 is commonly used to treat fatigue, dizziness, hypertension, tinnitus, depression, generalized pain, paralysis, chest fullness and palpitations, shortness of breath, chills and fever, urinary tract infections, and many other things.

We all need food. by Sara Calabro

Gall Bladder 30 

Gall Bladder 30 is a key point used in treatments for hip and leg pain.

Gall Bladder 30—also known as Huantiao (Chinese name), Jumping Circle (English translation) and

GB30 (acupuncturist lingo)—is located between your sacrum and greater trochanter.

In normal-speak, Gall Bladder 30 is usually found smack in the middle of your jeans back pocket

The hip whisperer
The inspiration for writing about Gall Bladder 30 came from an AcuTake reader, who recently had a hip replacement. Three months after his procedure, he is still having a lot of pain. He wrote asking for recommendations for acupressure points for hip pain.

Without knowing anything else about this reader’s situation, Gall Bladder 30 would be my first recommendation.

Peter Deadman, in his definitive A Manual of Acupuncture, says Gall Bladder 30 is “unrivaled in importance for the treatment of disorders of the hip joint and buttock, whether due to traumatic injury, painful obstruction, stagnation of qi or deficiency.”

Got hip pain? Reach for Gall Bladder 30.

How to use Gall bladder 30
Here’s how to find Gall Bladder 30: Put on a pair of jeans and locate the center of the back pocket on the side you’re having pain.

Depending on how your jeans fall, you may need to adjust. Technically, the point is found by dividing the distance between the sacrum and greater trochanter into thirds. Gall Bladder 30 is located one-third from the trochanter, so closer to the side of your leg than to your sacrum.

This picture from the handy Points app on my phone offers another angle. The green dot is Gall Bladder 30.

Sometimes the easiest way to locate the point is to feel around for some slight tenderness. Once you find

that, press. Most people say they know it when they feel it.

You can press this point yourself, or, if you feel comfortable, have someone else do it for you. Because the

gluteal muscles are relatively large, you may need to use firm pressure and press fairly deep.

Since Gall Bladder 30 can be somewhat difficult to reach on your own, a tennis or lacrosse ball can help.

Place the ball on the ground and then lower your body onto it, trying to align Gall Bladder 30 with the ball.

Try out various levels of pressure until you find what feels right for you.

If going straight to the source on Gall Bladder 30 is too tender, you can try loosening up the area with

Gall Bladder 34, another point on the Gall Bladder channel that’s located farther down the leg. Gall Bladder 34 is a go-to for alleviating stiff muscles and tightness along the side of the body. It’s easier to access and tends to be less sensitive than Gall Bladder 30.

​ by Sara Calabro

Pericardium 6
Pericardium 6—also known as Neiguan (Chinese name), Inner Pass (English translation) and

PC6 or just P6 (acupuncturist lingo)—is located on the inside of the wrist. It’s roughly two finger

breadths up from the wrist crease, between the palmaris longus and flexor carpi radialis tendons.

When needled, Pericardium 6, since the median nerve is directly beneath it, can produce a mild

shock-like sensation that extends down into the fingers. This usually goes away after the initial zap

but many people report feeling a continuous vibrating sensation for as long as the needle is retained.

Pericardium 6 is chosen for two primary reasons: nausea and chest-area discomfort.

Motion sickness bracelets take a cue from acupuncture
You know those motion sickness bracelets? They are designed to apply pressure to Pericardium 6,

whose best-known function is relieving nausea.

Pericardium 6 is appropriate for all kinds of nausea—caused by motion sickness, pregnancy, stress and anxiety, food poisoning, or stomach bugs. It’s also used for nausea as a side effect of chemotherapy and radiation treatments, one of the few instances in which Western medicine generally admits to acupuncture being effective. Pericardium 6 is included in many of the clinical trials that look at acupuncture for this use.

Because of its ability to soothe the stomach, Pericardium 6 also is used when someone complains of vomiting, excessive hiccups or borborygmus (stomach grumbling), and abdominal pain or distention.

Pericardium 6 is an easy point to access yourself, which makes it really handy for those uncomfortable moments when your stomach starts turning in public. Just apply firm pressure to the area above your wrist. To make sure you’re getting it, place your whole thumb across the width of the inner wrist while supporting the back of the wrist with your other fingers.

PC6 can help you get it off your chest
The other main indication for Pericardium 6 is chest pain or tightness, including heart palpitations, shortness of breath, and feelings of nervousness or fluttering in the upper body.

Before we go any further, let’s be clear: If you have chest pain, your first stop should be to the ER, not the acupuncturist. Only after cardiac problems are ruled out should you start thinking about Pericardium 6 as a therapy for symptoms in the chest area.

The Pericardium meridian begins at the chest, with the first point on the meridian falling just outside of the nipple

The points that fall farther down the channel are used to affect the starting end of the channel. Pericardium 6 is

considered the most powerful point along the Pericardium channel for influencing the chest region.

This is a great point for reducing anxiety that’s accompanied by heart pounding or palpitations, or shortness of

breath. Squeezing Pericardium 6 while taking some deep breaths has helped me through more than a few tense


Pericardium 6’s affect on anxiety also makes it a popular point for reducing insomnia. Insomnia in acupuncture is

typically thought of as an imbalance in the Heart system, and the Pericardium channel indirectly affects disorders

of the Heart. Since many people have insomnia due to anxiety, Pericardium 6 is a sensible choice. Try it next time

you’re lying awake. by Sara Calabro

Yintang is considered an extra point, meaning it does not correspond with any specific acupuncture meridian.

There are several extra points throughout the body, but Yintang is unique in that it does actually fall along a

meridian—the Governing Vessel—yet it’s not considered part of that meridian. The reasons for this are unknown.

Yintang, whose English translation is Hall of Impression, is its own entity. It’s a single point located between

the eyebrows, just below the area known as the third eye.

Acupuncture’s chill pill
The most common use for Yintang in modern acupuncture clinics is to calm the mind. Acupuncturists choose

it for people who complain of anxiety and related symptoms, such as insomnia due to over thinking.

Yintang alleviates what’s sometimes referred to as monkey mind, the non-stop emotional treadmill on which many of us find ourselves. Unsettled, agitated, anxious about things we can’t control, mind spinning, unable to focus—that’s monkey mind. Yintang takes the edge off this kind of emotional restlessness and anxiety.

This acupuncture point causes you to chill out.

For this reason, Yintang is frequently called upon for acupuncture goers who are nervous about needles. Anxiety around needles has a tendency to peak upon assuming the position on the acupuncture table. Starting a treatment with Yintang can be a great way to calm a person down, paving the way for greater receptivity to the remaining points.

Yintang benefits the outer head, too
Yintang’s benefits are not limited to what’s going on inside your head. This acupuncture point is used for anything head and face-related, especially issues with the nose.

People suffering from stuffiness, post-nasal drip, sinus congestion and nosebleeds are likely candidates for Yintang. The point also is used for eye disorders as well as frontal headaches, dizziness and vertigo.

Due to its calming function and accessible location, Yintang compliments almost any acupuncture treatment or self-care acupressure regimen.

For pain conditions, try pressing Yintang in combination with Large Intestine 4. This will be especially helpful for pain on the head or face because Large Intestine 4 is on a meridian that travels to that region. For anxiety and related conditions such as insomnia, press Yintang on its own using firm pressure. by Sara Calabro 

The logic behind choosing points varies. Certain acupuncture styles recommend points for unique reasons. Even within the same style, many points have more than one indication. Some points can substitute for others in cases where, for example, a needle-sensitive person prefers being stuck elsewhere. Other points can be left out or added based on the overall combination.

Recognizing that there are variations and exceptions, certain acupuncture points are used with a relative amount of uniformity. Across styles, they are known to be especially powerful in their effects. As a result, acupuncturists use them a lot. If you’re a regular acupuncture goer, you’ll probably recognize them.

Liver 3 & Large Intestine 4
We’ll look at Liver 3 and Large Intestine 4, two points that are popular in their own right and also frequently needled together in a combination called Four Gates.

Liver 3 gets things moving
Liver 3—also known as Taichong (Chinese name), Great Rushing (English translation) and

LV3 (acupuncturist lingo)—is located on the foot, between the first and second toes.

Liver 3 is what’s known as a source point. Every meridian has one. Source points behave sort of like

central stations on subway lines. They are hubs where internal and external energies gather and

transform. They are single, high-concentration points that grant access to the larger system.

Because Liver 3 has such far-reaching effects, it is indicated for a very wide variety of conditions.

John Pirog, in The Practical Application of Meridian Style Acupuncture, says Liver 3 is “probably

the most important point for stagnation of the inner body.”

Liver 3 is used for menstrual cramps, headaches, vision problems, coastal-region pain and shortness
of breath, low back pain, insomnia, and more. The list truly goes on and on. Feeling stuck? Hello, Liver 3. This point gets things moving.

Liver 3’s extensive effects are palpable. Needling it usually causes a strong achy sensation, either locally at the site of insertion, throughout the entire foot, or sometimes even up into the leg along the Liver meridian.

If you’ve had acupuncture, you’ve probably had Liver 3. If you haven’t yet, consider it inevitable.

Large Intestine 4 is a great bang for your buck
Large Intestine 4—also known as Hegu (Chinese name), Joining Valley (English Translation) and

LI4 (acupuncturist lingo)—is located on the hand, in the web between the thumb and index finger.

Large Intestine 4, like Liver 3, is a fantastic bang for your buck. If you think about the location,

between the first and second fingers, it’s basically the upper-body version of Liver 3, which is located

between the first and second “fingers” on the lower body.

Large Intestine 4 is a source point as well. It is indicated for a wide variety of conditions and also

tends to cause a strong needling sensation.

Probably the best-known use of Large Intestine 4 is to release the exterior. This refers to treating what are known as Wind conditions—chills and fever, runny nose, headaches, stiff upper back and neck, too much or too little sweating, sore throat, dizziness, etc. Large Intestine 4 is the go-to point for these types of symptoms. It is thought to disperse the Wind and also bolster the body’s defenses against recurrence.

Other common indications for Large Intestine 4 include toothache, sinusitis, rhinitis, nosebleeds and Bell’s Palsy. This is because the Large Intestine meridian travels up to the face, so almost any symptom related to that region calls for the point.

In addition to these common uses, Large Intestine 4 is used in treatments for everything from constipation to skin disease to low back pain.

Note: Large Intestine 4 is contraindicated during pregnancy.
Another note: Here’s a great product for applying acupressure to Large Intestine 4.

Four acupuncture points are better than one
Liver 3 and Large Intestine 4 are often used together. Each point is done on both sides of the body, creating a four-point combination known as Four Gates. This is one of the most frequently used point combinations in all of acupuncture.

There are many theories associated with Four Gates but the prevailing idea is that the combination opens up circulation throughout the entire body. Liver 3 handles the lower half while Large Intestine 4 addresses the upper. Together, they pack a powerful punch.

Four Gates usually tackles symptoms caused by stagnation. This includes pain as well as menstrual irregularities, constipation, or feelings of frustration—basically anything that suggests things aren’t flowing as smoothly as they should be.

​ by Sara Calabro

Kidney 1
Kidney 1—also known as Gushing Spring (English name), Yongquan (Chinese translation), and

KD1 (acupuncturist lingo)—is located on the bottom of the foot.

Kidney 1 is the only acupuncture point on the bottom of the foot. Since some people are freaked

out at the thought of taking a needle there, many acupuncturists stay clear of needling Kidney 1.

However, Kidney 1 hurts much less than you’d expect—often, there’s no sensation at all—especially

when it’s needled by a skilled acupuncturist.

Acupuncturists commonly use Kidney 1 as an acupressure point, at either the beginning or end of a

treatment, to help ground a person’s energy (more on this below). You can do this yourself. Because

it’s on the bottom of the foot, Kidney 1 is an easily accessible point for performing self-acupressure.

To find the exact location of Kidney 1, flex your foot down toward the floor. A small depression forms in the upper middle of the foot, right where the point is located. Given Kidney 1’s array of uses, this is a good spot to know.

Get out of your head
Located on the bottom of the foot, Kidney 1 is the lowest acupuncture point on the entire body. This relates to the point’s best-known use, which is to drain excess from the upper part of the body, especially the head.

In acupuncture terms, we call this excess qi or Wind or Yang, but it’s actually an intuitive concept to which Westerners can easily relate.

It’s what we mean when we say someone is “all in their head.” Basically, a whole bunch of energy, which should be evenly distributed throughout the body, gets concentrated in the head. This causes us to over think and obsess on things, feel anxious and eventually depressed, and experience physical symptoms such as insomnia, headaches and migraines, dizziness, and even poor vision and nosebleeds.

Kidney 1 is a mechanism for dispersing all the stuff that most of us have swimming around in our heads, preventing us from the emotional calm and physical comfort we crave.

A natural insomnia remedy
Ask most people who suffer from insomnia why they can’t sleep and they’ll tell you it’s because they can’t turn off their mind. Kidney 1 to the rescue!

Insomnia caused by relentless ruminating is exactly the type for which Kidney 1 is great.

From an acupuncture perspective, Kidney 1’s effectiveness at alleviating insomnia has much to do with the Kidney system’s relationship to the Heart system, a common culprit in sleep disorders. When the two systems are not communicating properly, emotional symptoms, including insomnia from over thinking, commonly occur.

Massaging Kidney 1 before you get into bed at night is a great self-care remedy for insomnia. You can do targeted acupressure directly on the point or generally rub the bottom of your feet (AcuTake contributor Eric Kerr demonstrates in this video). Whichever method you choose, do both feet.

Another effective self-care technique for reducing insomnia via Kidney 1 is soaking your feet in a bowl of warm water before bed. This will help draw down the excess energy that causes your mind to spin, and you to toss and turn all night.

For peace of mind and restful nights, get to know Kidney 1.

​ by Sara Calabro

Large Intestine 11

The point is considered one of the most vital acupuncture points throughout the body due to its wide

range of indications.

Large Intestine 11—also known as Quchi (Chinese name), Pool at the Crook (English translation) and

LI11 (acupuncturist lingo)—is located at the lateral (thumb side) edge of the elbow crease.

Use the pool to cool
When I was in acupuncture school, I made up random rhymes and mnemonic devices to remember functions of acupuncture points. The one I used for Large Intestine 11 was “use the pool to cool.”

Meaning, use Pool at the Crook to cool people off. The best-known use for Large Intestine 11 is to clear heat.

Large Intestine 11 is a go-to point for reducing fevers. In addition, the point is called upon for many other symptoms that, from an acupuncture perspective, stem from excessive heat. These include sore throat, red and itchy eyes, rashes, hypertension, excessive thirst, toothaches and some headaches.

For heat-related symptoms that occur in the lower body, Large Intestine 11 usually is combined with points on other meridians that transverse the legs. For example, Large Intestine 11, along with one or more points along the Spleen channel, is used to address heavy menstrual bleeding, typically considered a heat sign. For constipation due to heat and dryness, Large Intestine 11 might be combined with Stomach 36.

Upper limb protector
After heat clearing, addressing upper limb problems is the most common use for Large Intestine 11.

The Large Intestine channel starts at the index finger and runs up the arm to the face, where it ends just outside the nostril. The bulk of the channel resides on the arm. With the exception of Large Intestine 4, Large Intestine 11 is considered the most powerful point for resolving issues along the Large Intestine channel, especially on the elbow and shoulder.

People suffering from tennis elbow (lateral epicondylitis), golfer’s elbow (medial epicondylitis), elbow arthritis, and any other kind of elbow pain are sure to get Large Intestine 11. Rotator cuff syndrome, frozen shoulder, and other types of shoulder problems can be helped by the point as well. Certain forms of carpal tunnel may also improve with Large Intestine 11 since it’s located near the forearm extensor muscles, which are often involved in wrist pain.

Boost your immunity
Although it is not traditionally known for its immune-boosting properties, Large Intestine 11 is sometimes used preventively to help battle colds and flus, and other immune-compromising conditions.

In fact, one well-known style of Japanese acupuncture (Kiiko Matsumoto’s) considers Large Intestine 11 to be the master immune point in the body. It’s actually a point that falls just slightly below and outside Large Intestine 11. The exact location is determined according to the patient’s sensitivity in that area. The most sensitive spot is usually the most effective when treated.

Even when there are no signs of heat or problems in the upper limbs, I often include Large Intestine 11 (or the closest sensitive spot) in my treatments this time of year, when we can all use an immunity boost. If you feel cold or flu symptoms coming on, try feeling around the area of Large Intestine 11 until you hit a sensitive spot. Press, massage and repeat.

​ by Sara Calabro

Lung 7

It’s late January, and many people around you—and maybe you as well—are getting sick. It is prime

time for catching and spreading colds and flus. Now more than ever, your immune system can use a

little extra love. And I’ve got just the acupuncture point for you.

Lung 7—also known as Lieque (Chinese name), Broken Sequence (English translation) and LU7

(acupuncturist lingo)—is located on the thumb-side edge of your wrist.

To find Lung 7, make a thumbs-up sign. When you do that, you’ll see a depression at the base of your

thumb (referred to as the anatomical snuffbox). From that depression, Lung 7 is located approximately two finger widths up your arm. Slowly glide your finger up until you feel a slight depression between two tendons (see picture below). That’s Lung 7.

Key immune-boosting acupuncture point
Lung 7 is a key acupuncture point for treating cold and flu symptoms, including cough, sore throat, chills and fever, nasal congestion, headache, and stiff neck.

In acupuncture, many of these symptoms are caused by a Wind invasion. Lung 7 works by helping to expel Wind from the body. Wind invades through the back of the neck, which is why Lung 7 is the go-to point for that stiff-neck feeling we associate with a cold coming on. It’s also why acupuncturists are always cautioning their patients to wear scarves.

Regular acupuncture treatments, many of which are likely to include Lung 7 this time of year, are ideal for keeping your immune system strong throughout the winter. But if you know Lung 7, you can supplement treatments with simple immune-boosting self-acupressure whenever you want. Just press the point firmly or use a circular motion to massage the area.

Lung 7 is one of four points included in the Acupuncture Flu Shot—a four-point acupressure routine for boosting immunity. When you have extra time, try the complete Flu Shot routine.

Text much? Try Lung 7 for thumb pain
In addition to helping with immunity, Lung 7 is a great point for thumb and wrist pain caused by too much texting.

The trajectory of the Lung channel—the acupuncture meridian on which Lung 7 falls—maps almost exactly to the pain patterns that many people develop from excessive thumb texting. This article on trigger point acupuncture for “BlackBerry thumb” shows some of those patterns.

In the rare moments when you’re not using your phone, massage Lung 7 to help preserve your thumbs, hands, and wrists.

This works for non-texting related thumb, hand, and wrist pain, too. Some cases of carpal tunnel, for example, depending on where the pain is, can be helped by Lung 7. Try it and see. If nothing else, you’ll give yourself an immune boost!

​ by Sara Calabro

Why Are You Doing That Point?

Gall Bladder 34

Gall Bladder 34—also known as Yanglingquan (Chinese name), Yang Mound Spring (English translation)

and GB34 (acupuncturist lingo)—is located just below the knee on the lateral (pinkie toe) side of the leg.

You can find this point by running your finger up the outside of your leg until you hit a bony prominence.

That’s the head of your fibula bone, and Gall Bladder 34 is located just slightly in front of and below where

the bone juts out.

You can press this point yourself to alleviate stiff muscles, tightness along the side of the body, and to assist

your Liver Qi in chilling out. Here’s why acupuncturists so often reach for Gall Bladder 34.

Ease stiff muscles and joints
Classical Chinese medical texts refer to Gall Bladder 34 as the most important point for treating “the sinews.” Sinews are tough tissues, such as tendons and ligaments, that connect muscle to bone and bone to bone.

Gall Bladder 34 is one of the most popular acupuncture points for addressing stiffness, tension or tightness in the muscles and joints.

This acupuncture point, because of its location, is especially common in treating stiff muscles and joints in the lower body. Acupuncture treatments for knee pain, calf pain and foot pain are likely to incorporate this point. Runners who experience Achilles tendinitis, plantar fasciitis and/or shin splints also will see Gall Bladder 34 show up in their treatments.

Gall Bladder 34’s sinew-rejuvenating mechanism is not limited to the legs and feet, however. It also works for addressing stiff neck and shoulders as well as muscular and joint issues in the arms and hands. Acupuncture treatments for tennis and golfer’s elbow, for example, commonly include Gall Bladder 34.

Does the side of your body hurt?
Another primary use for Gall Bladder 34 is pain or a sense of fullness on the side of the body, especially around the chest and rib area. Here’s why:

All meridians have what’s known as a he-sea point, a point located near the knee or elbow. He-sea points are points of connection, where the more distal parts of the body (the extremities) start to merge with the inner core (the trunk and organs).

Gall Bladder 34 is the he-sea point of the Gall Bladder meridian, which runs along the side of the body. This means that Gall Bladder 34, more than other points on the Gall Bladder meridian, has a direct effect on the middle body along the channel. This generally means the side of the body around the ribs.

Your Liver Qi loves Gall Bladder 34
Since Gall Bladder 34 resolves tension and tightness along the side of the upper body, it’s a frequent go-to in treatments for an extremely common pattern among stressed-out Westerners—Liver Qi Stagnation.

Liver is the system that’s responsible for smooth flow throughout the body. As such, it’s the system most directly affected by things that cause us to tense up—emotional stress, rigid posture, not breathing deeply enough, jaw clenching, etc. When things aren’t flowing smoothly, we start to experience what acupuncturists think of as stagnation-type symptoms.

Stagnation-type symptoms include pain, and specifically pain that feels like pressure, distension or restriction. Among others, including frustration and irritability, a signature characteristic of Liver Qi Stagnation is a feeling of pressure or “stuckness” on the sides of the upper body.

In acupuncture, each organ system is paired with another, and Liver’s paired system is Gall Bladder. This means that acupuncture points on the Gall Bladder channel can directly impact Liver-related issues. So, Gall Bladder 34—because of its relationship to Liver, its location, and its designation as a he-sea point—is commonly included in treatments for Liver Qi Stagnation.

Given how widespread Liver Qi Stagnation is today, Gall Bladder 34 is a great acupressure point to have in your self-care tool box, to use in between acupuncture treatments. by Sara Calabro

Kidney 6
Kidney 6—also known as Shining Sea (English name), Zhaohai (Chinese translation), and

KD6 (acupuncturist lingo)—is located on the inner ankle.

Find it by locating the high point of your medial malleolous, the prominent bone on the inside

of your ankle. Drop your finger to directly below the malleolous and you’ll feel a little dip between

two tendons. That is Kidney 6. If you don’t feel the dip, try flexing your foot slightly.

Kidney 6, in addition to being an effective point for resolving a host of issues—literally, from head

to toe—serves as a reminder of how acupuncture’s greatness lies in its subtlety.

Because Kidney 6 is located in a bony area surrounded by tendons, acupuncture needles in this point get inserted very shallowly. Most people barely feel it. (There are exceptions to this, so don’t worry if you experience a sensation when receiving Kidney 6.)

In contrast, acupuncture points in the fleshier, more muscular parts of the body may get needled to a deeper level. Something about this deeper insertion can feel more tangible, more likely to do something.

But the reality is that, while deep needling is appropriate for certain acupuncture points and conditions, acupuncture is extremely subtle in how it shifts energy throughout the body. Deeper is not necessarily better. Less, often, is more.

Sometimes the most shallowly needled acupuncture points, the ones that cause the least amount of sensation, produce the most profound changes. Kidney 6 is a great reminder of this.

The acupuncture lozenge
One of the most common uses for Kidney 6 is to relieve throat issues. Any kind of throat problem can benefit from this point—sore throat, dry or scratchy throat, swelling of the throat, difficulty swallowing, even the feeling of having a lump in your throat.

Kidney 6 is considered the master point of what’s known as Yin Qiao Mai, one of eight extraordinary vessels.

There are entire systems of acupuncture grounded in the extraordinary vessels, so a complete discussion of them is beyond the scope of this article. But as it relates to Kidney 6, Yin Qiao Mai is a channel that runs deeper than the main Kidney meridian but along a similar pathway. It follows the inner part of the body from the foot all the way up to the inner edge of the eye. It transverses the throat, bringing moisture and movement to the area.

Kidney 6 helps eye problems such as redness, itching, and blurriness in the same way, by regulating moisture to the eyes.

This point will calm your mind
Kidney 6’s ability to resolve a lump in your throat is partly due to what I said above about the point’s relationship to body parts along Yin Qiao Mai. However, it also relates to Kidney 6’s relationship to the Heart system.

In acupuncture, many emotional imbalances—things like anxiety, depression, nervousness, and restlessness—can be attributed to a disharmony between the Kidney and Heart systems. Sometimes this is referred to as “Heart and Kidney not communicating.” In order for your mind to be calm and your spirit to be balanced, your Heart and Kidney systems need to be working in concert with one another.

Kidney 6 is one of the go-to points on the Kidney channel for restoring balance with the Heart and alleviating emotional symptoms.

Close your eyes and think of Kidney 6
Kidney 6’s relationship to the Heart also makes it a good candidate for treating insomnia. Many of us can’t sleep because we’re struggling emotionally or can’t stop our minds from spinning. This kind of insomnia is often attributed to an imbalance in the Heart system.

Also, as I mentioned above, Kidney 6 affects eye-related symptoms because the eyes are part of Yin Qiao Mai. Insomnia that feels as though you physically can’t keep your eyes closed can be a Yin Qiao Mai-related issue—hence, its master point, Kidney 6, can help.

If you experience this kind of insomnia, try the following exercise:

Get into bed, but stay in a seated position from which you can access both ankles. You can try bending your knees and touching the soles of your feet together. If that’s uncomfortable, get into whatever position gives you easy access to both ankles. If you can’t find one, just use one ankle.

For five full minutes, press Kidney 6 firmly on both sides (or one, if you can’t reach both). I find it most comfortable to use my thumbs, but use whatever fingers feel right for you. You may notice some tenderness at the point or you may feel nothing. Either is okay.

Close your eyes and concentrate all of your attention to the exact spots where your thumbs come in contact with your ankles. Take slow, deep breaths while you do this.

Do this exercise every night. As you get more comfortable with the location of Kidney 6, you can do it with the lights off so that you can easily transition into a fully reclined position—and hopefully, into a deep sleep.

Kidney 6 goes low, too
Although most of Kidney 6’s uses relate to symptoms in the upper part of the body, the point also is called upon for disturbances in the urinary, digestive, and reproductive systems.

Urinary tract infections, burning or otherwise painful urination, lower abdominal pain, and constipation can all be helped by Kidney 6.

And because the Kidney system is responsible for sexual and reproductive health, acupuncture treatments focused on menstrual-related symptoms—anything from period cramps to infertility—are likely to involve Kidney 6 as well.

​ by Sara Calabro

Spleen 4

Spleen 4 is an acupuncture point on the all-important Spleen channel.

I say all-important because the Spleen does a lot. It plays a critical role in our ability to digest food,

which ultimately affects many other processes throughout the body—without nourishment, all

systems suffer. In this way, the Spleen has a hand in everything, and Spleen 4 is one of the most

commonly used points along the channel.

Spleen 4—also known as Grandfather Grandson (English name), Gongsun (Chinese translation),

and SP4 (acupuncturist lingo)—is located on the inside of the foot.

Find it by running your thumb along the edge of the first metatarsal bone. Spleen 4 is about one inch above where the foot juts out, the place where most people get bunions. If you’re in the right spot, you should feel a slight depression at the base of the bone, and the point may be quite sensitive.

Digest this point for bloating
If you remember one thing about Spleen 4, remember digestion.

Spleen 4 is said to harmonize the middle jiao, referring to the abdominal region. Therefore, it is a frequent go-to point for abdominal bloating and pain, diarrhea, undigested food in the stool, and vomiting.

People who complain of getting no enjoyment out of eating may also receive Spleen 4.

Spleen 4 helps lower stress
So, Spleen 4’s great for digestion in the traditional sense. Because of the Spleen’s relationship to the Heart, it’s also great for the digestion of thoughts and experiences, and calming the spirit.

People who tend to stew on or over think things—a sign of Spleen deficiency—may benefit from Spleen 4. It can help with processing and moving through emotional stressors.

Portland, Oregon-based acupuncturist Cayly Christensen says Spleen 4 is her favorite point for reducing stress.

“Treating the Spleen to reduce excessive rumination and quiet an overly analytical mind can be very useful in easing stress,” says Christensen. “The location of the point, on the inside of the foot, contributes to its stress-lowering quality. It tends to be a sensitive point, which helps bring people out of their heads and into their bodies.”

Further reading: DIY acupuncture points for lowering stress

Self-care exercise for digestion
Feeling bloated? Stressed out? Stomach bothering you? Spleen 4 is an easily accessible point for administering self-acupressure.

Find a comfortable seated position.
If you can try bending your knees and touching the soles of your feet together. If that’s uncomfortable, get into whatever position gives you easy access to both feet. If you can’t find one, alternate one foot at a time.
Using your thumbs, apply firm pressure to Spleen 4 while breathing steadily into your abdomen. Do this for two minutes. (Repeat on the other foot if you’re doing one at a time.)
As a maintenance routine, shoot for doing this once in the morning and once before bed. You might experiment with trying out different times of day—for example, before or after meals—to see what’s most effective for you.

​ by Sara Calabro

Acupuncture in Nanaimo, BC

(250) 667-8242


​​​​​Harbour City Healers

Spleen 6
Spleen 6—also known as Sanyinjiao (Chinese name), Three Yin Intersection (English translation)

and SP6 (acupuncturist lingo)—is located on the inside of the lower leg.

To find it yourself, place the pinkie-side edge of your hand against the high point of your medial

malleolous (the big bone on the inside of your ankle). Spleen 6 is directly above the malleolous,

at the other, index-finger edge of your hand.

Spleen 6 is a three-for-one deal
The location of Spleen 6 is what makes it so widely used. Spleen 6 is the point at which the Spleen, Liver and Kidney meridians intersect—hence the name, Three Yin Intersection.

This means it can be used to address issues having to do with any of the three channels. And that means Spleen 6 is used an awful lot.

John Pirog, in his great book The Practical Application of Meridian Style Acupuncture, says that naming all of Spleen 6’s indications would “require an entire text.”

In A Manual of Acupuncture, author Peter Deadman calls Spleen 6 “one of the most important and widely used of the acupuncture points.”

It’s not just that Spleen 6 is a three-fer. Moreover, Spleen, Liver and Kidney—arguably more than other channels—are principally important in a significant number of functions throughout the body.

Westerners in particular, plagued by our overworked and stressed-out lifestyles, are disproportionately afflicted with patterns that affect the Liver and Spleen meridians. For this reason, Spleen 6 is included in almost all acupuncture treatments for general-wellness, balancing, and stress-reduction.

We could all use a little more Spleen 6 in our lives.

Ladies, remember this acupuncture point
Although Spleen 6 is used for many, many conditions, there are a few for which it is known to be

especially effective. Gynecological conditions are at the top of the list.

Anything gynecological—PMS, irregular or painful menstruation, infertility, delayed or

difficult labor, genital pain or itching—is from an acupuncture perspective directly related

to Spleen, Liver and Kidney. Gynecological issues can stem from any (or all three) of these systems,

so a point that influences them all is efficient and effective.

In fact, Spleen 6’s effect on a woman’s reproductive health is so powerful that the point is contraindicated during pregnancy.

Spleen 6 also addresses reproductive health in men. It is frequently used on men who complain of impotence, seminal emission and genital pain.

Spleen 6 is a lot to digest
After gynecology, digestion is the next best-known area that warrants love from Spleen 6.

Often used in combination with acupuncture point Stomach 36, Spleen 6 is particularly focused on resolving digestive and abdominal problems due to what is known as Dampness.

As it pertains to digestive disorders, Dampness can cause diarrhea, undigested food in the stool, abdominal distention or fullness, and weak appetite. Many of these symptoms are seen in that overworked and stressed-out Westerner mentioned above, because Dampness often is a sign of deficiency in the Spleen caused by an overactive Liver.

Spleen 6, in addition to being chosen when digestive or abdominal symptoms suggest Dampness, also is a go-to point for women whose digestive disturbances are accompanied by gynecological problems.

Other uses for Spleen 6 include difficult or painful urination, insomnia, dizziness, low back and knee pain, as well as ankle and foot pain because of its location.

As the connection point for the body’s Spleen, Liver and Kidney energies, Spleen 6 is multifaceted and powerful in its effects. Don’t be surprised if you see it pop up in your next acupuncture treatment. by Sara Calabro