A 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
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
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
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.