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THERAPY
Aromatherapy is the practice of using volatile plant oils, including essential oils, for psychological and physical well-being. Essential oils, the pure essence of a plant, have been found to provide both psychological and physical benefits when used correctly and safely. The Essential Oil Profiles area details over 90 essential oils. Absolutes, CO2s and Hydrosols are also commonly utilized in aromatherapy. Although essential oils, CO2 extracts and absolutes are distilled by different methods, the term essential oil is sometimes used as a blanket term to include all natural, aromatic, volatile, plant oils including CO2s and absolutes.

In addition to essential oils, aromatherapy encourages the use of other complementary natural ingredients including cold pressed vegetable oils, jojoba (a liquid wax), hydrosols, herbs, milk powders, sea salts, sugars (an exfoliant), clays and muds. Products that include synthetic ingredients are frowned upon in holistic aromatherapy. It is important to note that perfume oils also known as fragrance oils (and usually listed as "fragrance" on an ingredient label) are not the same as essential oils. Fragrance oils and perfume oils contain synthetic chemicals and do not provide the therapeutic benefits of essential oils.

Buyer Beware: The United States does not regulate the use of the word aromatherapy" on product packaging, labeling or in product advertising, so any product can be marketed as a product suitable for aromatherapy. There are quite a few products on the market that contain unnatural ingredients including fragrance oils and claim to be aromatherapeutic. It's important to look at the ingredient label when seeking true aromatherapy products. Also, use caution with marketing claims that state a product is "Made With Essential Oils" or "Made With Natural Ingredients." Claims like these do not state that the product is only made with the ingredient(s) specified. Such products may contain heavy proportions of synthetic fragrance oils and only contain a minute quantity of essential oil to simply be able to profess the "Made With Essential Oils" claim. Don't let false marketing hype scare you away from the benefits of holistic aromatherapy. By exploring AromaWeb and other aromatherapy resources, you can learn how to safely use just a few essential oils and start gaining the benefits of aromatherapy. If you realize you hold an even deeper interest, you can learn to make your own products and control the exact ingredients included in your own personal aromatherapy products. The Benefit of an Aroma ~ Inhaling Essential Oils Essential oils that are inhaled into the lungs offer both psychological and physical benefits. Not only does the aroma of the natural essential oil stimulate the brain to trigger a reaction, but when inhaled into the lungs, the natural constituents (naturally occurring chemicals) can supply therapeutic benefit. Diffusing eucalyptus essential oil to help ease congestion is a prominent example. If not done correctly and safely, however, the use of essential oils can have severe consequences.


The Benefit of Physical Application

Essential oils that are applied to the skin can be absorbed into the bloodstream. The constituents of essential oils can aid in health, beauty and hygiene conditions. Since essential oils are so powerful and concentrated, they should never be applied to the skin in their undiluted form. To apply essential oils to the skin, essential oils are typically diluted into a carrier such as a cold pressed vegetable oil, also known as a carrier oil. Common carrier oils include sweet almond oil, apricot kernel oil and grapeseed oil. A more detailed definition of Carrier Oils is found on the What are Carrier Oils page. A detailed list of carrier oils and their properties can be found on the Carrier Oils Used in Aromatherapy properties page.

Other Benefits

In addition to therapeutic benefit at the emotional and physical level, essential oils are helpful in other applications. Essential oils can be used in household and laundry cleaners. Some oils act as a natural insect repellent and pesticide. You may recall using citronella candles during the summer to keep mosquitoes away. Citronella essential oil is the ingredient in the candles that is responsible for repelling the mosquitos. Visit the Essential Oil Uses page for additional information on ways that you can use essential oils.

Essential Oil Blends

Essential oils can be blended together to create appealing and complex aromas. Essential oils can also be blended for a specific therapeutic application. Essential oils that are carefully blended with a specific therapeutic purpose in mind may be referred to as an essential oil syngery. A synergistic essential oil blend is considered to be greater in total action than each oil working independently. AromaWeb's Recipes area offers a variety of recipes and synergies. About Aromatherapy Products Not all ready-made aromatherapy products labeled with the word "aromatherapy" are pure and natural. Products that contain artificial ingredients do not provide true aromatherapy benefits. At worst, they provide no benefit or be harmful. At best, they provide only a fraction of the benefit that natural products supply. Buyers seeking true aromatherapy products must look at the ingredient label to ensure that the product does not contain fragrance oils or unpure (chemical) components. A general rule-of-thumb is to be wary of products that do not list their ingredients and those that do not boast of having pure essential oils (look for products that contain pure essential oils on their ingredient list and avoid those that have words like fragrance). A note, however, is that some sellers of good-quality aromatherapy blends do not list their ingredients because they are worried that others may copy their creation. By asking the seller more about the blend, and listening to how they respond, you should have a better idea about the quality of the blend being sold. Good suppliers should be happy to provide you with a list of the ingredients. They understand that some individuals must avoid particular oils due to health problems





Acupressure is a traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) technique based on the same ideas as acupuncture. Acupressure involves placing physical pressure by hand, elbow, or with the aid of various devices on different acupuncture points on the surface of the body. Traditional Chinese Medicine does not usually operate within a scientific paradigm but some practioners make efforts to bring practices into an evidence-based medicine framework. There is no scientific consensus over whether or not evidence supports efficacy of acupressure beyond a placebo. Reviews of existing clinical trials have been conducted by the Cochrane Collaboration and Bandolier according to the protocols of evidence-based medicine; for most conditions they have concluded a lack of effectiveness or lack of well-conducted clinical trials.

The points used may or may not be in the same area of the body as the targeted symptom. The TCM theory for the selection of such points and their effectiveness is that they work by stimulating the meridian system to bring about relief by rebalancing yin, yang and qi. This theory is based on the paradigm of TCM, not that of science. An acupressure wristband that is claimed to relieve the symptoms of motion sickness and other forms of nausea is available. The band is designed to provide pressure to the P6 acupuncture point, a point that has been extensively investigated. The Cochrane Collaboration, a group of evidence-based medicine (EBM) reviewers, reviewed the use of P6 for nausea and vomiting, and found it to be effective for reducing post-operative nausea, but not vomiting. The Cochrane review included various means of stimulating P6, including acupuncture, electro-acupuncture, transcutaneous nerve stimulation, laser stimulation, acu-stimulation device and acupressure; it did not comment on whether one or more forms of stimulation were more effective. EBM reviewer Bandolier said that P6 acupressure in two studies showed 52% of patients with control having a success, compared with 75% with P6 acupressure. One author of an article published in the Scientific Review of Alternative Medicine disagreed.

A Cochrane Collaboration review found that massage provided some long-term benefit for low back pain, and said, "It seems that acupressure or pressure point massage techniques provide more relief than classic (Swedish) massage, although more research is needed to confirm this." Many East Asian martial arts also make extensive study and use of acupressure for self-defense and health purposes (chin na, tui na). The points or combinations of points are said to be used to manipulate or incapacitate an opponent. Also, martial artists regularly massage their own acupressure points in routines to remove blockages from their own meridians, claiming to thereby enhance their circulation and flexibility and keeping the points "soft" or less vulnerable to an attack. Attacking the acupressure points is one theme in the wuxia genre of movies and novels. Reference

Luo Points

Luo Points is an acupuncture term referring to special points in the body that are believed to have greater significance. According to acupuncture theory, the points, twelve in all, are places where the body can be manipulated to greater effect when applying acupuncture or tui na techniques, and can be used to aid the circulation of qi so as to keep the body healthy.

Fire Cupping



Fire Cupping is a method of applying acupressure by creating a vacuum next to the patient's skin. In traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) it involves placing glass, plastic, or bamboo cups on the skin with a vacuum. The therapy is used to relieve what is called "stagnation" in TCM terms, and is used in the treatment of respiratory diseases such as the common cold, pneumonia, and bronchitis. Cupping is also used to treat back, neck, shoulder, and other musculoskeletal pain. Its advocates claim it has other applications as well. This technique, in varying forms, has also been found in the folk medicine of Vietnam, the Balkans and modern Greece, among other places.



The intent of acupuncture therapy is to promote health and alleviate pain and suffering. The method by which this is accomplished, though it may seem strange and mysterious to many, has been time tested over thousands of years and continues to be validated today. The perspective from which an acupuncturist views health and sickness hinges on concepts of "vital energy," "energetic balance" and "energetic imbalance." Just as the Western medical doctor monitors the blood flowing through blood vessels and the messages traveling via the nervous system, the acupuncturist assesses the flow and distribution of this "vital energy" within its pathways, known as "meridians and channels".

The acupuncturist is able to influence health and sickness by stimulating certain areas along these "meridians". Traditionally these areas or "acupoints" were stimulated by fine, slender needles. Today, many additional forms of stimulation are incorporated, including herbs, electricity, magnets and lasers. Still, the aim remains the same - adjust the "vital energy" so the proper amount reaches the proper place at the proper time. This helps your body heal itself.

Acupuncture is just one form of therapy used within the coherent system of healing known as Oriental Medicine. Oriental Medicine includes herbology, physical therapy, dietetics and special exercises (such as Tai Chi and Qi Gong), and is a complete medical system unto itself and is not another branch of modern Western medicine. Acupuncture evolved from principles and philosophies unique to Oriental thinking and Oriental Medicine, and is most effectively applied when done in accordance with those principles.

History of Acupuncture

Acupuncture was first discussed in the ancient Chinese medical text "Huang Di Nei Jing" (The Yellow Emperor's Classic of Internal Medicine), originating more than 2000 years ago.

During the 6th Century, improved transportation and communications within the Asian Continent led to the introduction of Chinese medicine to Japan, and along with Buddhism came in the form of religious medicine.

In the 17th century, Waichi Sugiyama, in search of a simple, painless and speedy insertion method, developed the insertion tube, a small cylindrical tube through which the needle is inserted. This insertion method is still used today by practitioners worldwide, and in Japan by over 90% of the acupuncturists.

Japanese acupuncture has been well established as the primary form of health care for over a thousand years. An acupuncturist's role was comparable to that of a modern physician. When Dutch and German medicine was introduced in the 19th century, the Western modality of medicine quickly became the dominant medical practice.

Today in Japan, acupuncture remains an integral part of the health care system, offered in conjunction with medicine. In North America, acupuncture has grown into what is now a common form of pain management therapy in many clinics and hospitals. The Washington Post reported in 1994 that an estimated 15 million Americans, or roughly 6% of the American population has visited an acupuncturist and has tried acupuncture for a variety of symptoms including chronic pain, fatigue, nausea, arthritis, and digestive problems.

In 1995, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) classified acupuncture needles as medical instruments and assured their safety and effectiveness.

The medical community for the most part now accepts acupuncture and a growing number of medical schools, such as UCLA, include acupuncture training in their curriculum.

In 1997, the US National Institute of Health issued a report titled: "Acupuncture: The NIH Consensus Statement". It stated that acupuncture is a very useful method for treating many conditions. It acknowledges the side effects of acupuncture are considerably less adverse than when compared to other medical procedures such as surgery or pharmaceuticals. In addition, the NIH made the recommendation to U.S. insurance companies to provide full coverage of acupuncture treatment for certain conditions. This momentous advancement in the status of acupuncture in the United States has certainly influenced its status elsewhere in the world, including in Canada.

In 1997, the Ontario Medical Association officially recognized acupuncture as a 'complimentary medicine', acknowledging its broad success in treatment. As acupuncture becomes increasingly accessible to more Canadians, Doctors recommend it more and more as an effective relief for many medical conditions.

Acupuncture treatment is included in many Insurance plans. It is a sure sign of acupuncture's acceptance into the mainstream. It is also an indicator of its success.

Ancient Acupuncture Theories

The understanding of how acupuncture works has evolved with its practice, but the descriptions set down a thousand years ago have largely been retained. The dominant function of acupuncture is to regulate the circulation of qi (vital energy) and blood. Approximately 2,000 years ago, the pre-eminent acupuncture text, Huangdi Neijing (Yellow Emperor’s Classic on Internal Medicine), was written. In it, acupuncture was described as a means of letting out excess qi or blood by making holes in the body along certain pathways, called jingluo (meridians). For some of these meridians, it was advised to acupuncture in such a way as to let out the blood but not the qi; for others, to let out the qi, but not the blood. Many diseases were thought to enter the body through the skin, and then penetrate inward through muscle, internal organs, and, if not cured in timely fashion, to the marrow of the bone. By inserting a needle to the appropriate depth—to correspond with the degree of disease penetration—the disease could be let out.

Prior to the time when there were microscopes by which people could envision individual cells and before autopsies revealed the intricate structures within the body, doctors and scholars projected the internal workings of the body from what they could actually experience, which was the world outside the body. On this basis, the workings of the body were described in terms similar to those used to describe the visible world. One of the critical aspects of nature for humans living a thousand years ago, when Chinese civilization was well developed, was the system of water courses, which included tiny streams, huge rivers, man-made canals and irrigation systems, and the ocean. It was envisioned that the body had a similar system of moving, life-giving fluid. This fluid was the qi, and the pathways through which it flowed were the meridians.

Instead of discussing acupuncture in terms of letting something out of the body, physicians began describing it in terms of regulating something within the body. The flow of qi through the meridians, just like the flow of water through a stream, could be blocked off by an obstruction—a dam across the waterway. In the streams, this might be a fallen tree or a mud slide; in humans, it might be caused by something striking the body, the influence of bad weather, or ingestion of improper foods. When a stream is blocked, it floods above the blockage, and below the blockage it dries up. If one goes to the point of blockage and clears it away, then the stream can resume its natural course. In a like manner, if the qi in the meridian becomes blocked, the condition of the body becomes disordered like the flooding and dryness; if one could remove the blockage from the flow of qi within a meridian, the natural flow could be restored.

In a blocked stream, just cutting a small hole or crevice in the blockage will often clear the entire stream path, because the force of the water that penetrates the hole will widen it continuously until the normal course is restored. In the human body, inserting a small needle into the blocked meridian will have a similar effect. Just as a stream may have certain points more easily accessed (or more easily blocked), the meridians have certain points which, if treated by needling, will have a significant impact on the flow pattern. Many acupuncture points are named for geological structures: mountains, streams, ponds, and oceans.

Although this description of the basic acupuncture concept is somewhat simplified, it conveys the approach that is taught today to students of traditional acupuncture: locate the areas of disturbance, isolate the main blockage points, and clear the blockage. Of course, many layers of sophistication have been added to this model, so that the needling—which might be carried out in several different ways—can be seen to have subtle and differing effects depending upon the site(s) needled, the depth and direction of needling, and even the chemical composition of the needle (such as gold, silver, or steel). For example, some needling techniques are used for the primary purpose of increasing the flow of qi in a meridian without necessarily removing any blockage; other techniques reduce the flow of qi in the meridians. These tonifying and draining methods, as well as transference methods that help move qi from one meridian to another, are part of the more general aim of balancing the flow of qi in the body.

Ultimately, all the descriptions of acupuncture that are based on the traditional model involve rectifying a disturbance in the flow of qi. If the qi circulation is corrected, the body can eliminate most symptoms and eventually—with proper diet, exercise, and other habits—overcome virtually all disease.

Acupuncture Modern Views

When the human body was finally described in terms of cells, biochemicals, and specific structures (most of this accomplished less than 150 years ago), the Chinese method of acupuncture and its underlying concepts were evaluated in these new terms. As a first effort, researchers sought out physical pathways that might correspond to the meridians, and even a fluid substance that might correspond to qi. Neither of these were found. Nonetheless, the action of performing acupuncture was shown to have effects on the body that required some detailed explanation.

From the modern perspective, diseases and injuries are resolved by a complex set of responses; the responses are coordinated by several signaling systems. The signaling systems mainly involve peptides and other small biochemicals that are released at one site, travel to other sites, interact with cells, and stimulate various biologically programmed responses. Rather than blockages of circulation described in the old Chinese dogma, diseases are understood to be caused by microorganisms, metabolic failures, changes in DNA structure or signaling, or breakdown of the immune system. Some of these disorders are resolved by the cellular functions that are designed for healing, while others become chronic diseases because the pathological factors involved have either defeated the body’s normalizing mechanisms or because something else has weakened the body’s responses to the point that they are ineffective. For example, poor nutrition, unhealthy habits, and high stress can weaken the responses to disease.

Modern studies have revealed that acupuncture stimulates one or more of the signaling systems, which can, under certain circumstances, increase the rate of healing response. This may be sufficient to cure a disease, or it might only reduce its impact (alleviate some symptoms). These findings can explain most of the clinical effects of acupuncture therapy.

According to current understanding, the primary signaling system affected by acupuncture is the nervous system, which not only transmits signals along the nerves that comprise it, but also emits a variety of biochemicals that influence other cells of the body. The nervous system, with over 30 peptides involved in transmitting signals, is connected to the hormonal system via the adrenal gland, and it makes connections to every cell and system of the body.

In a review article, Acupuncture and the Nervous System (American Journal of Chinese Medicine 1992; 20(3–4): 331–337), Cai Wuying at the Department of Neurology, Loyola University of Chicago, describes some of the studies that implicate nervous system involvement. According to a report of the Shanghai Medical University, cranial nerves, spinal nerves, and their terminals were dispersed in the area surrounding the acupuncture points for about 5 millimeters. They also found that the nervous distribution of the Bladder Meridian points (which run along the spine) was in the same area of the spine as that of the corresponding viscera. In Japanese research, it was reported that when acupuncture points were needled, certain neurotransmitters appeared at the site. In laboratory-animal acupuncture studies, it was reported that two such transmitters, substance P and calcitonin gene-related peptide, were released from primary sensory neurons. Acupuncture analgesia appears to be mediated by release of enkephalin and beta-endorphins, with regulation of prostaglandin synthesis: all these have an effect on pain perception. One of the dominant areas of research into acupuncture mechanisms has been its effect on endorphins. Endorphins are one of several neuropeptides; these have been shown to alleviate pain, and have been described as the body’s own “opiates.” One reason for the focus on these biochemicals is that they were identified in 1977, just as acupuncture was becoming popular in the West, and they are involved in two areas that have been the focus of acupuncture therapy in the West: treatment of chronic pain and treatment of drug addiction.

According to traditional Chinese doctors, one of the key elements of a successful acupuncture treatment is having the person who is being treated experience what is called the “needling sensation.” This sensation may vary with the treatment, but it has been described as a numbness, tingling, warmth, or other experience that is not simple pain (pain is not an expected or desired response to acupuncture treatment, though it is recognized that needling certain points may involve a painful response). Sometimes the needling sensation is experienced as propagating from the point of needling to another part of the body. The acupuncturist, while handling the needle should experience a response called “getting qi.” In this case, the needle seems to get pulled by the body, and this may be understood in modern terms as the result of muscle responses secondary to the local nervous system interaction.

According to this interpretation, acupuncture is seen as a stimulus directed to certain responsive parts of the nervous system, producing the needling sensation and setting off a biochemical cascade which enhances healing. Some acupuncture points are very frequently used and their applications are quite varied: needling at these points may stimulate a “global” healing response that can affect many diseases. Other points have only limited applications; needling at those points may affect only one of the signaling systems. It is common for acupuncturists to combine the broad-spectrum points and the specific points for each treatment. Some acupuncturists come to rely on a few of these broad-spectrum points as treatments for virtually all common ailments.

This modern explanation of how acupuncture works does not explain why the acupuncture points are arrayed along the traditional meridian lines. At this time, no one has identified—from the modern viewpoint—a clear series of neural connections that would correspond to the meridians. However, acupuncturists have identified other sets of points, such as those in the outer ear, which seem to be mapped to the whole body. The description, in the case of the ear, is of a layout of the body in the form of a “homunculus” (a miniature humanoid form). Such patterns might be understood more easily than the meridian lines, because the brain, which is adjacent to the ear, also has a homunculus pattern of neurological stimulus that has been identified by modern research. Similarly, acupuncturists have identified zones of treatment (for example, on the scalp or on the hand) that correspond to large areas of the body, and this may also be more easily explained because there are connections from the spinal column to various parts of the body which might have secondary branches elsewhere. In fact, acupuncture by zones, homunculi, “ashi” points (places on the body that are tender and indicate a blockage of qi circulation), and “trigger” points (spots that are associated with muscle groups) is becoming a dominant theme, as the emphasis on treating meridians fades (for some practitioners). The new focus is on finding effective points for various disorders and for getting biochemical responses (rather than regulating qi, though there is no doubt some overlap between the two concepts).

During this modern period (since the 1970’s) an increasing number of ways to stimulate the healing response at various body points have been advocated, confirming that needling is not a unique method (the idea that the needle would produce a hole through which pathogenic forces could escape has long been fading). In the past, the main procedures for affecting acupuncture points were needling and application of heat (moxibustion). Now, there is increasing reliance on electrical stimulation (with or without needling), and laser stimulation. Since the basic idea of acupuncture therapy is gaining popularity throughout the world while the practice of needling is restricted to certain health professions and is not always convenient, other methods are also becoming widely used. Lay persons and practitioners with limited training are applying finger pressure (acupressure), tiny metal balls held to the to the skin by tape, magnets (with or without tiny needles attached), piezoelectric stimulus (a brief electric discharge), and low energy electrical pulsing (such as the TENS unit provides with electrical stimulus applied to the skin surface by taped electrodes). Some of these methods may have limited effectiveness, but it appears that if an appropriate body site is stimulated properly, then the healing response is generated.

For many nervous system functions, timing is very important, and this is the case for acupuncture. The duration of therapy usually needs to be kept within certain limits (too short and no effect, too long and the person may feel exhausted), and the stimulation of the point is often carried out with a repetitive activity (maintained for a minute or two by manual stimulation—usually slight thrusting, slight withdrawing, or twirling—or throughout treatment with electro-stimulation). It has been shown in laboratory experiments that certain frequencies of stimulus work better than others: this might be expected for nervous system responses, but is not expected for simple chemical release from other cells.



FEW COMMONLY USED ACUPUNCTURE POINTS

In ancient times, the number of acupuncture points was established to be the same as the number of days in the year: 365. These points were mapped to 14 major meridian lines, one meridian for each of the 12 inner organs, one meridian along the spine (called the governing vessel), and another along the midline of the abdomen (called the conception vessel). More recently, the number of points identified by acupuncturists has exploded. There are extra meridians (some of them outlined in ancient times, others modern) with their own sets of points, there are special points (off meridians), and there are complete mappings of body structures and functions by points along the outer ears, on the nose, in the scalp, on the hands, on the feet, and at the wrists and ankles. Despite the growing number of treatment zones, most acupuncturists still utilize the traditionally-identified points on the 14 main meridians. On each meridian there are a small number of points used repeatedly, because of their versatility, for a wide variety of patients and diseases. One such point on each major meridian is mentioned below, sometimes with a second point also briefly described, for a total of 21. It is important to recognize that although a list of disorders and diseases treated by each point can be given, sometimes the points are selected entirely or primarily on the basis of the Chinese theory of balancing the flow in the meridians, so that the point might be used for other kinds of disorders, aside from those listed, because of its usefulness in this balancing process. For points not on the central line of the body, each point has a left and right side reflected location (the point is counted only once for enumeration purposes). For each point in this presentation, the name of the meridian, the number of the point, the number of standard points on the meridian, its designation by one of the number-based classification systems (two letters and the point number), and the Chinese name are given.


Large Intestine Meridian, point #4 of 20: LI4, Hegu

This point is located on the back side of the hand between the thumb and first finger. The dominant uses are to relieve pain and to treat constipation or other bowel disorders. However, this point is also utilized in the treatment of inflammatory and feverish diseases which have symptoms in the throat and head, because the large intestine meridian runs from the hand to the face. Another key point on this meridian is LI11 (Quchi), located at the elbow. It is used for many upper body disorders, such as sore throat, eye pain, lymphatic swellings, rashes, and difficulty moving the arms, and for intestinal disorders, such as diarrhea and intestinal cramping.

Lung Meridian, point #7 of 11: LU7, Lieque

This point is located above the wrist on the inside of the arm. It is used to treat several disorders of the upper body, including headache, neck stiffness, cough, asthma, sore throat, facial paralysis, and wrist problems.

Stomach Meridian, point #36 of 45: ST36, Zusanli

This point is located on the front of the leg, just below the knee. It is helpful for digestive disorders, including nausea, vomiting, gastralgia, and abdominal distention, and also for general weakness. Recently, numerous clinical trials have been conducted with treatment of this point alone, demonstrating positive effects in treating anemia, immune deficiency, fatigue, and numerous diseases.

Spleen Meridian, point #6 of 21: SP6, Sanyinjiao

This point is located on the inner side of the leg just above the ankle. Although it is on the spleen meridian, which generally influences the digestive system, this point is also valuable for treating hormonal disorders (irregular menstruation, impotence) and immune disorders. Another key point on this meridian is SP9 (Yinlingquan), located just below the knee. It is used in the treatment of urinary diseases, especially with fluid retention, abdominal and back pain, and female reproductive system disorders.

Gallbladder Meridian, point #20 of 44: GB20, Fengchi

This point is located at the base of the skull where it joins the neck in back. It used in the treatment of acute disorders, such as common cold, influenza, headache, neck pain, and fever. In addition, it lowers blood pressure and relaxes tension in the area of the eyes. Another key point on this meridian is GB34 (Yanglingquan), located on the outer side of the knee, and used for treating a wide range of injuries and disorders of the muscles and tendons.

Liver Meridian, point #3 of 14: LV3, Taichong

The point is located on the top of the foot, between the first and second toes. It is used to balance emotional energy, to regulate menstruation, to reduce tension and pain in the chest, treat eye disorders, alleviate headaches, and reduce high blood pressure. The adjacent point in the meridian, LV2 (Xingjian), at the webbing between the toes, is also considered quite important and is frequently needled along with LV3; it has similar uses, but is also incorporated into the treatment of lower abdominal disorders, such as urinary problems.

Pericardium Meridian, point #6 of 9: PC6, Neiguan

This point is located on the inner arm, just above the wrist. Like other points on this meridian, it is useful for cardiac disorders, such as heart palpitation and angina pectoris. It is also useful for nausea, vomiting, spasms, and convulsions.

Heart Meridian, point #7 of 9: HT7, Shenmen

This point is located on the outer side of the wrist. It is used in the treatment of a variety of mental disorders, such as absent mindedness, insomnia, disturbing dreams, hysteria, depression, agitation, and mental illness. It is also used in the treatment of heart disease and fatigue.

Urinary Bladder Meridian, point #40 of 67: BL40, Weizhong

This point is located at the back of the knee. It is utilized in the treatment of back pain, hip impairment, muscular atrophy, leg pain and immobility, abdominal pain, vomiting, diarrhea, and a host of other symptoms. Another important point on the bladder meridian is BL23 (Shenshu), in the lumbar area (hip level) near the spine; it is used in treatment of a wide range of disorders, including urinary problems, impotence, menstrual disorders, low back pain, knee weakness, dizziness, ringing in the ears, blurred vision, edema, asthma, and diarrhea. A large section of the bladder meridian is of importance because, as it flows along either side of the spine (in two parallel lines on each side), it associates with the internal organs in the vicinity.

Kidney Meridian, point #3 of 27: KI3, Taixi

This point is located just behind the inner ankle. It is used for disorders in several areas of the body, including sore throat and toothache, deafness and tinnitus, dizziness, asthma, thirst, insomnia, impotence, frequency urination, pain in the lower back, and menstrual irregularities.

Triple Burner Meridian, point #5 of 23: TB5, Waiguan

The triple burner is considered to be a special type of organ system that spans the entire torso. This point on the meridian is located on the outer side of the arm, above the wrist. It is mainly used in treatment of disorders along the pathway of this meridian, that is, of the fingers, hand, arms, neck, ears, cheek, and top of the head.

Small Intestine Meridian, point #3 of 19: SI3, Houxi

This point is located on the side of the hand, below the little finger. It is used for treating mental disorders, stiffness and pain in the neck, chest, and lumbar region, seizures, night sweats, and fevers.

Governing Vessel, point #20 of 28: GV20, Baihui

This point is located at the top of the head. It is traditionally applied in the treatment of various mental disorders, and for problems that occur in the head: headache, vertigo, ringing in the ears, nasal obstruction, difficulty with speech, etc. It is also used to treat prolapse, such as that of the rectum and uterus. Another key point on this meridian is GV14 (Dazhui), located just below the seventh cervical vertebrae (shoulder level); it is used for treating neck and upper back problems, feverish diseases, convulsions, cough, asthma, and common cold.

Conception Vessel, point #4 of 24: CV4, Guanyuan

This point is located a little below the navel. It is used for all types of lower abdominal disorders, including urination problems, hernia, menstrual disorders, gynecological infections, postpartum bleeding, diarrhea, rectal prolapse, etc. Another important point on this vessel is CV6 (Qihai), half way between CV4 and the navel. The applications are similar, but it is especially used in cases of accompanying fatigue.

Examples of Combining These Points to Produce an Effective Treatment

In the book Modern Clinic Necessities for Acupuncture and Moxibustion (by Zhang Ren and Dong Zhi Lin), several treatment strategies are outlined. For menopausal syndrome, the main points recommended are GV20 and GV14, CV4, BL23, HT7, SP6 and ST36; secondary points include PC6, LV3, and KI3. For bedwetting at night among young children, recommended points include CV4, BL23 and SP6; secondary points include LU7, KI3, CV6, and ST36. For hayfever, recommended points include GB20, LI4, and ST36; secondary points include GV14, LU7, LI11, and SP6. In her book Insights of a Senior Acupuncturist, Miriam Lee describes a combination of points that have wide application: ST36, SP6, LI4, LI11, and LU7. This set of points, with slight adjustments (e.g., leaving out one or two, perhaps adding or substituting one or two) is shown to be helpful for the majority of common complaints seen in the Western acupuncture clinic. A popular treatment for injury and stress is to needle the “four gates,” the right and left side points LV3 (feet) and LI4 (hands), which opens circulation throughout the meridians.


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