In Chinese Medicine, there is a saying: “one disease, a thousand causes; one cause, a thousand diseases.” In other words, there is rarely one point that is the absolute best for everyone with a given condition. Take headaches, for example. There are easily a dozen common patterns of disharmony that could cause headaches. Different points and herbs would be used for a headache caused by Dampness than for one caused by Blood Stasis or by Liver Yang Rising or by Wind-Cold. That’s where seeing an acupuncturist for a differential diagnosis comes in, to find out how best to treat your particular headache. To schedule an appointment with Brodie or Joe for individualized treatment, call (541) 757-4868.
That said, there are certainly points that tend to help simple conditions (like pain) no matter what your specific diagnosis is. These are the ones I have included below.
How to use this AcuPoint Glossary
Find your condition, listed alphabetically. Press each point that’s described for that condition firmly, perpendicularly for about 30 seconds or until you feel the results. Some points respond better to static pressure, others prefer small circular movements, still others are perfect places to use moxa or an essential oil. Use acupressure or massage unless otherwise instructed.
A word about the point name shorthand: In Chinese Medicine, energy zips around the body on pathways known as meridians. These pathways don’t just go along the surface of the body; they connect the internal organs with the exterior. The 12 primary meridians are named for the internal organ that they connect with. They are abbreviated as follows: LU=Lung; LI= Large Intestine; ST=Stomach; SP=Spleen; HT=Heart; SI= Small Intestine; UB=Urinary Bladder; KD=Kidney; PC=Pericardium; SJ=San Jiao or Triple Heater; GB=Gall Bladder; LR=Liver. There are also two other channels that have points of their own. They are: CV=Conception Vessel and GV=Governing Vessel. There are yet other points on the body that are not part of the primary meridian system at all, but belong to microsystems, which are holographic systems where the whole body is represented in one small area like the hand or the ear or the scalp. These points are not are often named for the condition they treat, which makes it simple enough to remember them.
Find Your Condition
LU 1: On the lateral aspect of the chest, about an inch below the place where the collarbone meets the shoulder, just below the hollow under the collarbone. This acupoint responds well to gentle tapping.
CV 17: In the center of the chest, on the midline level with where the space below the fourth rib meets the breast bone. The first rib that you can count is the second one (the first rib is under the collarbone. Count down two more spaces from there and then move to the midline. (The fourth rib space is usually where the nipple is found in flat-chested guys).
Energy and Digestion
(These acupoints respond very well to moxa)
ST 36: Put your 4 fingers together and use the widest part (the knuckles where the fingers meet the hand) as a unit of measurement. Place this hand directly below your kneecap, lining the widest part of your hand with the highest part of the leg bone, the tibia. Use your other hand to mark the spot where your hand lands. From there, move one index-finger’s width toward the outside of the leg. This acupoint’s name translates as “leg three miles” and suggests that stimulating it will give you the energy to keep going that extra distance. In addition to helping with energy, it regulates digestion and helps the immune system.
SP 6: On the inner ankle, find the bony bump (medial malleolus). Put your 4 fingers together and use the widest part (the knuckles where the fingers meet the hand) as a unit of measurement starting just above that bone. Find SP 6 just above the top of your hand, in the often tender depression along the inner leg bone. Not for use during pregnancy.
KD 3: On the inner ankle, find the bony bump (medial malleolus). Then find the Achilles tendon. Between these two landmarks, there is a depression which is KD 3. The source point of the Kidney, which is the foundation of all yin and yang of the body, this point is great to shore up fear and benefit your will, and help support taxed adrenals.
GB 20: Find the big bump at the back of your head and go about an inch lower. Then move your hands out a few inches into the hollows between the muscles at the back of your neck. Find the most tender spot in the hollow, close to the base of the skull.
UB 2: In the tender depression at the end of the eyebrow closest to the nose. Press upward. Also useful for headaches.
KD 1: On the sole of the foot, between the second and third metatarsal bones, approximately one-third of the distance between the base of the second toe and the heel, in a depression formed when the toes are pointed away from you.
UB 57: On the back of the lower leg, in the depression formed below the two bellies of the gastrocnemius muscle, about halfway from the back of the knee to the ankle where the Achilles tendon meets the fleshy part of the calf muscle. This acupoint is very helpful for plantar fasciaitis.
LI 4: The master point of the head, LI 4 can treat any kind of headache. To locate it, squeeze the thumb against the base of the index finger. Find the highest point of the bulge, approximately level with the end of the crease. Keeping the hand relaxed and supported by your other hand, press firmly into the point with the tip of your opposite thumb. Not for use during pregnancy.
ST 8: At the “corner” of the head, found in the tender place about a half-inch into the hairline of the front of the head and a half-inch into the hairline of the temple. (The way more specific version: Look into a mirror, locate your pupil as you look straight ahead, go up from there a half an inch into the hairline and measure the distance between there and the midline of your head. Take that distance, double it, and go straight out from the starting point, you’ll find the spot.) For pain in the front or side of the head.
UB 2: In the tender depression at the end of the eyebrow closest to the nose. Press upward. For pain in the forehead, base of the head, or even the neck.
UB 10: Find the bony bump near the base of your skull. Go about one inch down and 1.5 inches to each side, where the small muscles are often tight and tender. Press in with both thumbs, allowing your head to slowly nod into the pressure. For pain at the base of your head and radiating upwards over the head to the forehead.
GB 20:From UB 10, move your hands further out, into the hollows between the muscles at the back of your neck. Find the most tender spot in the hollow, close to the base of the skull. This acupoint can help most kinds of headaches.
Taiyang:Using your index and middle fingers, gently rub in circles on your temples. For pain on the sides of your head or behind your eyes.
Migraine point (Korean hand system):Touch the middle joint of the ring finger on the side that faces the pinky. Just a hair closer to you than the joint, press in from the pinky finger side, supporting your finger with your other hand.
Anmian “peaceful sleep point:” Find the hollow at the back of your neck, near the skull, on the outside of the trapezius muscle. Then find a point just behind the earlobe. Locate anmian halfway between those two points, along the border of the skull.
HT 7: On the inner aspect of the wrist, at the crease where the wrist bends, in line with the inner aspect of the pinky. There is a tendon there, which runs just to the outside of HT 7. This acupoint’s name is “spirit gate,” and is great for calming the spirit as well as helping with sleep.
Lower Back Pain
Yao Tong Xue: Two tender points located on the back of the hand, between the index and middle fingers and between the ring and pinky fingers respectively. Pick one of the points to locate by sliding your thumb between the two bones towards the wrists. Find the most tender spot in the depression just before you reach the wrist bones. If the first one isn’t sore, try the other one. Then, while massaging the sore point, twist, turn, and bend your lower back for about 30 seconds. Especially good for acute lower back sprains.
Lingku: The sore spot at the juncture of the metacarpal bones of the thumb and index finger, about an inch closer to the wrist than LI 4 (which is found at the high point of the bulge between your thumb and index finger.)
Nausea, Morning Sickness, Motion Sickness
PC 6: On the inner aspect of the forearm, 2 thumb-widths up from the wrist crease, in the middle, between the two tendons that you can see when you make a fist. This point responds well to peppermint essential oil.
Luozhen “Stiff neck point:” On the back side of the hand, imagine that the tops of the knuckles of the index and ring finger are two points of an equilateral triangle. The third point is found at the apex. Rub this point while stretching your neck, allowing the stiff area to open while you massage.
SJ 3: Also on the back of the hand, triangulate between the pinky and ring fingers’ knuckles to find the depression on the back of the hand. Move your neck around while rubbing this point.
SI 3: Curl the fingers into a fist. Follow where the tip of the pinky lands to the side of the hand below the knuckle. This point opens the entire back and benefits the neck.
Sciatica / Pain in the hip or side of the thigh
Sciatica point (Korean hand system): On the back of the hand, imagine that the knuckle of the ring finger is your head, and that the bone coming off of it towards your wrist is your neck. Put your finger on the pinky side of that knuckle, and aim the pressure at the place where the “head” and “neck” meet. Move your hip simultaneously while rubbing the point.
GB 41: On the foot, between the little toe and the 4th toe, just to the outside of the tendon that becomes visible when you spread the little toe away from the foot.
GB 34: Find the bottom of the kneecap move your hand slightly down and to the outside to find the top of the tibia. Move about an inch down and slightly to the outside of that bony bump to find this point. You can check your location by locating a second bony part (the head of the fibula) near the side of the lower leg. Use the two bony bumps to make an equilateral triangle, locating GB 34 as the lowest point. Not only is this point great for sciatic and hip pain, it benefits all the connective tissue in the body.
GB 21: At the highest point of the shoulder, halfway between the very outside tip of the shoulder and the middle of the back of the head. Press down. Caution in pregnancy because of this point’s strong descending action.
Stress, anxiety, depression
LR 3: On the top of the foot, between the big toe and the 2nd toe. Beginning at the web between the big and second toes, run your finger up towards your foot. Where your fingers meet the resistance of the bones coming towards each other, there should be a tender spot. Press here. This is the source point for the Liver, which is responsible for the free flow of energy in the body. Pair this with LI4 (see headache section) and you have the “four gates,” which get all the energy moving in the body to help alleviate tension, pain, and help you relax.
PC 6: On the inner aspect of the forearm, 2 thumb-widths up from the wrist crease, in the middle, between the two tendons that you can see when you make a fist. This point responds well to essential oils: try lavender or lemon, for example.
For help re-patterning your nervous system, check out my learn-from-home class, Calm Yourself: Self-Care Strategies for Stress and Anxiety
Typically, I assign these points for use with essential oils following particular psychospiritual acupuncture treatments where we are trying to alter deeply-seated constitutional patterns. The indications listed are by no means comprehensive, but there to jog your memory as to the intent of the treatment.
SP 4: Opens the chong. On the inner aspect of the foot, run your finger along the big toe’s metatarsal up from the big knuckle towards the ankle. The point is located just before you get to the head of the first metatarsal, where the bone gets wider.The chong is the blueprint, your DNA-level programming, formed early in life. For things that run in families, lack of support early in life, coming to terms with your physical body, your culture, who you are.
LU 7: Opens the ren, or Conception Vessel. Make a thumb’s up sign. Notice the depression at the top of the wrist at the base of the thumb. Slide your finger from there towards your elbow about an inch into the space between two tendons on the bony part of the forearm. Use this point only on the left. For issues of bonding, security, safety, “home,” being nurtured.
SI 3: Opens the du, or Governing Vessel, which runs up the back of the body. Curl the fingers into a fist. Follow where the tip of the pinky lands to the side of the hand below the knuckle. Use this point only on the right. For making the world yours, taking risks, standing up for yourself, confidence, being too uptight or rigid, ADHD.
GB 41: Opens the dai, or Belt Vessel. On the foot, between the little toe and the 4th toe, just to the outside of the tendon that becomes visible when you spread the little toe away from the foot. Releases the undigested physical or emotional traumas held deep within; helps let go of guilt, sense of inadequacy, anything you’d be better off without.
PC 6: Opens the yin wei. On the inner aspect of the forearm, 2 thumb-widths up from the wrist crease, in the middle, between the two tendons that you can see when you make a fist. Has to do with roles in life, traumas that occur at critical developmental points (every 7 years for women, 8 for men).
SJ 5: Opens the yang wei.On the outer aspect of the forearm, two thumb-widths up from the wrist crease. For the process by which you do or do not make decisions, and whether or not those decisions serve you, martyrdom / victim patterns.
UB 62: Opens the yang qiao, or Yang Heel Vessel. On the outer aspect of the ankle, about an inch below the big bony bump. Has to do with your stance to the world at large, introversion and extroversion of qi on a daily basis (like insomnia).
KD 6: Opens the yin qiao, or Yin Heel Vessel. On the inner aspect of the ankle, just below the big bony bump. Has to do with your stance to yourself in the present moment, and things that happen along monthly cycles (like hormonal fluctuations).
Use your body to relax your mind.
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