Traditional Chinese Medicine: Acupuncture Points and Charts

What Are the Acupuncture Points?

The English translation of ‘acupuncture points’ is not very accurate. Acupuncture is one of the many healing methods used in traditional Chinese Medicine. It inserts fine needles into the sensitive points on the body to stimulate Jingluos (meridians) to cure diseases. These sensitive points are called ‘Shuxue’ or ‘Xuewei’ in Chinese Medicine, meaning ‘the transmitting points’. However, this name has been so widely used, there is no point to change it now for our discussion.

Acupuncture points are the responsive points or sensitive points on the meridians and other parts of the body. They are the special locations where energy is transmitted between the inner structures and the surface of the body. These spots can reflect disease or unhealthy conditions by giving forth painful sensations when touched or pressed. These points are (but not limited to) where the therapists apply treatments. When the body is deficient of positive energy, negative or harmful energy will be able to invade the body through these spots, causing illness. Stimulating the related points can boost and mobilize the positive energy, balance Yin/Yang energy and cure the disease. There are three types of points:

1. 14-main-meridian points

2. Extraordinary points

3.’Yes’ points.

The 14-main-meridian points are the spots on the 12 main meridians plus the spots on the governor and conception vessels. Each spot has a unique name and a fixed location. They are the main acupuncture points. The extraordinary points are the points that have names and fixed locations. These locations are not on a particular meridian. ‘Yes’ points are also called pain points, but they don’t have names or fixed locations. They are the sensitive points related to the diseases. The ‘yes ‘name came from a story. When treating a patient, the doctor pressed a spot unintentionally, and the patient uttered ‘oh yes’.

There are approximately 360 acupuncture points in total on the human body. With so many tiny points to remember, one can easily be intimidated. As a matter of fact, for self -healing and caring purposes, we don’t have to memorize all these points. We only need to remember roughly 20 most used and effective points. If you need to use more points, just look for them using the meridian and acupuncture point charts. Each point has a unique and meaningful name, which gives some key information about this particular point, such as main function, usage, location, or other. In English, the English spelling of the Chinese names are directly used. For people who don’t understand Chinese, it is hard to comprehend the significance of each name and, therefore hard to remember all the foreign sounding names.The format of the international symbols for acupuncture points is fairly easy. Since most of the points belong to one specific meridian (Jing), it only makes sense that their symbols are associated with those meridians. You can take two abbreviation letters of that meridian’s name and number all the points along the way, from the starting point to the end point. For example: the name of the Xue-hai point means ‘the sea of blood’ in Chinese and can be used for blood-related issues. Its English symbol is SP10, because it belongs to the spleen meridian and is the 10thpoint from the start.

How to Find an Acupuncture Point?

When considering an acupuncture point as a tiny point, it might be really difficult to find it. However, if you think of it as a small precise area, it becomes quite easy. To locate a subject on a 2D plane, you need 2 coordinates. To locate an sensitive point, we use a reference point and a distance. The reference point is a known location on the body, such as ‘the tip of the nose’, ‘the highest point of the ankle bone’ etc. The distance is measured by your own hand. The unit is ‘cun’. The width of your thumb at the mid joint is one ‘cun’, the width of middle three fingers at the mid joints is two ‘cun’, the width of the four fingers (without the thumb) at mid joints is three ‘cun’. How do you know if you have found the right point? When you press on it, if you feel kind of sore and sense a little pain (acute pain means you are not well somewhere), then you are on the right spot. Every main meridian has a primary point. That is the point where the primary energy of this meridian originates. Stimulating this point is one of the most effective ways to boost the positive energy found in this meridian.

Sadness, Grief, Anger, Resentment – How Acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine Can Help

In life there are many genuine reasons to grieve, to feel sad, to get angry or to feel resentful. The death of a loved one, the loss of a job, being disregarded in your work or personal life, the ongoing challenges of the material world that we live in, not feeling fulfilled, dysfunctional relationships, broken relationships, the loss of a pet… the list is almost endless.

What makes the situation even more difficult is that in today’s society we are often under so much stress that the emotion is not given permission to vent or surface properly, which can lead to other difficult emotions and stronger feelings of sadness, grief, anger etc. and it is a self perpetuating situation.

A Look At Sadness, Grieving & Western Medicine

If you are sad or grieving and you live in a "western civilised country" then you may consider going to a doctor. Friends and family may be supportive, but as the emotion/s persists you and your support group may feel there is no better option. In many cases, depending on how the patient expresses these emotions, the doctor may decide to prescribe anti-depressants to help them.

There may be some cases where as a temporary measure this can appear to help, and unfortunately many other cases where it is the slippery slope to a dependency on prescription drugs.

Of course there are also doctors who may recommend counselling or some form of talk therapy, to give the patient the opportunity to deal with and vent the emotion/s.

Regardless of the route that is chosen, Western medicine does not recognise that certain emotions are linked to specific organs, and can therefore have either a detrimental effect or a balancing effect, depending on the degree and type of emotion experienced.

Traditional Chinese Medicine Recognises Relationships Between Emotions And Organs

However traditional Chinese medicine does recognise the relationship between emotions and organs, and it is an integral aspect of how both traditional Chinese acupuncturists and herbalists practice.

Even if you have no interest in going to a traditional Chinese medical practitioner, I have found that even by observing shifts in general well being, when you understand the inter-relationships between emotions and organs, can give some helpful indications of how to begin re-balancing these imbalances.

For example, doing something creative that you enjoy can give you these type of signals. Walking in nature can also do the same, as can reading something enriching. These are only a handful of examples of potentially balancing activities. Please note that although these are helpful, it would be highly recommended to visit a good practitioner who will help you re-balance thoroughly.

In traditional Chinese Medicine there are 7 emotions which are:

1. Anger

2. Anxiety

3. Fear

4. Fright

5. Grief

6. Joy

7. Pensiveness

Each of these is associated to a different organ or organs. Let’s look very briefly at what these are.

1. Anger which encompasses anger as we know it, as well as resentment, frustration and irritability is linked to the liver.

2. Anxiety is connected to the lungs.

3. Fear or perceived fear is linked to the kidneys.

4. Fright is a sudden experience that will initially affect the heart but over time as the fright converts into a conscious fear, then it will also affect the kidneys.

5. Grief has a direct connection to the lungs and if it passes the stage of normal initial grief and manifests into chronic grief, then it may weaken the lungs.

6. Joy is related to the heart. In traditional Chinese medicine the emotion of joy refers to an agitated overexcited state.

7. Pensiveness in TCM (traditional Chinese medicine) refers to over thinking or too much mental stimulation, which relates to the spleen.

These short snippets barely touch on the relationships, which are rather complex and also encompass the five elements (wood, earth, fire, metal and water). However my intention is to introduce the subject at this time, and to examine it in terms of the difficult emotions of sadness and grief, which is illustrated in the following case study.

A Case Study – Grief, Sadness, Stress, Anger And Resentment

A patient of Dr. Jingduan Yang, who is a fourth generation doctor of Chinese medicine, a board certified psychiatrist and a contributor to the Huffington post, is a good case study of grief, sadness, anger, resentment and stress.

This patient, whom he calls "Nancy", a woman of 30, had been suffering with lower abdomen pain for 3 months, which got worse after drinking cold drinks or eating oily food. A doctor she had attended had prescribed her medication which attacked the symptoms but not the cause, after not being able to discover any physical signs of infection, cancer, inflammation or other tangible condition.

However upon attending Dr. Jingduan Yang, it became apparent that her symptoms were indeed her friends and were desperately trying to tell her something important. "Nancy" had been ignoring the grief of losing a long term friend, which was combined with five years of stress of almost constant relocation and professional pressure.

A difficult routine, eating habits that were not conducive to a balanced life and health, married with grief, sadness, anger and resentment were brought back into balance by a combined holistic approach, which incorporated a course of acupuncture, herbal remedies, meditation, qi gong, and improved dietary and eating habits. This lady was helped to re-balance, as well as understanding the messages which her symptoms were giving and taking part in practices which gave her back more responsibility over her own health.

Grief and sadness are recognised in Chinese medicine to weaken the normal energy flow (qi) of the lungs as well as the large intestines.

Anger and resentment (a form of anger) are recognised to create blockages of energy (qi) and blood in the liver and gallbladder channels. In turn this can result in pain, mood swings, indigestion, insomnia and dysmenorrhea.

This is one case study of hundreds of thousands of studies that traditional Chinese practitioners have all around the world. Even if you feel sceptical about trying TCM, remember it has, and continues to help millions of people deal with the root cause of their imbalances and not just the symptoms. It is a great way to maintain a healthy body, mind and spirit. It can help you understand and deal with your emotions before they become chronic, and can help you re-discover parts of yourself that became drowned in pools of stress and chronic emotions.

If you have been feeling any or some of these emotions, it can be a great relief to deal with them with the aid of a good practitioner.

Introduction To Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM)

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) involves the use of Chinese herbal medicine, Acupuncture, Moxibustion, Qi gong, Tuina (Chinese massage), and a medicated diet, and is one of the world’s most ancient medical systems, with its own principles, diagnostic methods and therapies. It has become very popular in the west.

Meridians and Collaterals

TCM views the meridians and collaterals networks using Zang-Fu, which categorises tissues and organs in an organic whole. Each Zang and Fu organ transports Qi and blood, and regulates Yin and Yang, maintaining the functions and activities of all parts of the body. This system guides the diagnosis, treatment and application of all the branch subjects of TCM.

Yin and Yang

TCM also holds as its central belief that health in all parts of body is due to the relationship between Yin and Yang. Yin and Yang theory is the general principle used to classify in TCM’s holistic approach to health and disease, and also offers a clinical guide to preventing and curing disease.

Diagnosis

TCM’s diagnosis depends merely on the doctor’s sense organs to acquire clinical data. It mainly consists of the four techniques of diagnosis, namely: interrogation, inspection, auscultation (listening) and olfaction (smelling), pulse feeling and palpation.

Treatment

TCM has three basic components: Chinese herbal therapy, Acupuncture and Tuina (Chinese massage) therapy, and Diet therapy.

Chinese herbal therapy

This is based on the principle that good health depends on achieving optimum vitality and balance – a balance described in terms of the polarity of Yin and Yang.

Chinese herbs come from nature, and include flowers, stems, leaves, roots and barks. Each herb has its own specific characteristics. Their different characteristics are employed to treat disease, rectify the hyperactivity or hypoactivity of Yin or Yang, and help the body restore its normal physiological functions – consequently, curing the disease and restoring health.

Chinese herbal administration (herbal dosages and powder forms) usually depends on your condition, your constitution and age. It should be larger for serious emergencies and stubborn problems with a young and strong patient, smaller for mild problems, and with the aged, the frail, and with children and pregnant women.

The doctor will carefully select different herbal dosages or powder forms to treat you as your treatment starts, and closely monitor your progress through regular consultations. As your condition change, the treatment will be altered accordingly.

Acupuncture and Tuina therapy

These are two practical therapies in TCM. They are to regulate the meridians or channels of the body, to unblock the stagnation of Qi and blood, and balance Yin and Yang, maintaining their function, via the extraordinary points, scalp points, auricular points, and other special points by needle (in the case of Acupuncture) or by the fingers, hands and limbs of the Tuina therapist.

When using Tuina for infant and prenatal care, some special points exist besides the acupoints on the 14 meridians and extra-points. Manipulation using pushing, kneading, rubbing is mostly used.

measuring the waistline

Diet Therapy

Each food (vegetable, fruit, meal, nut, etc.) has its own specific characteristics. We can guide you to the best foods to treat your condition, in accordance with the actual condition of disease, the characters and functions of the foods, and therapeutic requirements found through the doctor’s consultation.

Other treatments

Moxibustion, Cupping therapy, Ear authority, Electrolysis, Electrotherapy (without needle) are often used. All of them work by same principles of acupuncture therapy.

What does Chinese Medicine treat?

TCM treats your mind and body as a whole, not just the condition. Using the principles of TCM, a very wide variety of conditions, and any age can be helped, including:

1.Common Internal Diseases

Anaemia, Asthma, Arthritis, Cerebral Thrombosis, Cold, Colitis, Constipation, Constipation, Cholecystitis, Coronary Heart Disease, Digestive Ulcers, Diabetes, Diarrhoea, Oedema, Flu, Gout, Headaches, Hypertension, Hyperlipoproteinemia, Hay fever, Irritable bowel syndrome, Malabsorption, Nephritis, Neurosis, Neurasthenia, Thyroid, Pneumonia, Pancreatitis, etc.

2.Women’s problems

Pre-menstrual syndrome, Painful periods, Menopausal syndromes, endometriosis, Sterility, Morning sick, Pelvic Inflammation, etc.

3.Men’s problems

Ejaculation Praecox, Hypertrophy, Low Steam Court, Impotence, Prostitutes, Sex Drive Problems.

4.Skin problems

Herpes Zoster, Contact Dermatitis, Eczema, Urticaria, Neurodermatitis, Psoriasis, Acne Vulgaris, Alopecia Areata, Resaca, etc.

5.Muscular, neurological, skeletal and vascular problems

Arthritis, Back Pain, Frozen Shoulder, Gonitis, Hemiplegia, Lumbago (lower back pain), Neuralgia, Omalgia, Sciatica, Stiff Neck Stroke, Sprain, Sports Injury, Tennis Elbow, Trigeminal, Tendon Injury, etc.

6.Mental and Emotional Problems

Anxiety, Depression, Stress, Panic Attack, Insomnia, Palpitation, etc.

7.Ear, Nose, Throat and Ophthalmic Problems

Conjunctivitis, Optic Neuritis, Myopia, Obits Media, Sore Throat, Hay Fever, Halitosis, Pharyngitis, Rhinitis, Sinusitis, etc.

8.Oncology

Liver Cancer, Lung Cancer, Gastric Cancer, etc.