The Acupuncture Points

The acupuncture points have many names in Chinese. They are called kongxue, xuewei, xuedao, shuxue, jingxue or by a modern term cijidian (irritant points). Most works still use the term shuxue which has a dual meaning. In a broader sense it is a general name for all the points lying on the Fourteen Meridians and the points called shixue EP 11; in a narrower sense it denotes either the points lying on the back like xinshu B 15, ganshu B 18, feishu B 13 etc., or it serves as a general name for the so called Elementary Points.

The Names of the Acupuncture Points

The names of the points sometimes seem to be rather obscure and unintelligeble and yet they have a certain definite meaning. They are mostly taken from three main sources, nature, objects, medicine.

A. Nature

1. Astronomy. Names of stars or constellations (riyue G24, taichong Liv 3, xuanji Cv 21, huagai Cv 20. taiyi S 23).

2. Geography.

  • a) Mountains and hills (daling Cx 7, kunlun B 60, liangqiu S 34, shangqiu Sp 5).
  • b) Valleys and ditches (qiangu Si 2, houxi Si 3, zhigou T 6, yanggu Si 5, taixi K 3).
  • c) Seas, marshes, ponds, fountains (quchi Li 11, chize L 5, xiaohai Si 8, ququan Liv 8, yanglingquan G 34, yinlingquan Sp 9).

3. Zoology. Names of animals (dubi S 35, futu Li 18, jiuwei Cv 15).

4. Botany. Names of plants (zanzhu S 2, heliao Li 19, T 22).

B. Objects

1. Architecture (quyuan Si 13, yutang Cv 18, kuf’ang S 14). All points ending in guan, men ting, gang and li belong to this category.

2. Names of things (dazhu B 11, jiache S 6, yangfu G 38).

C. Medicine

1. Anatomy.

  • a) Ancient anatomical names (wangu Si 4, dazhui Gv 14, qugu Cv 2).
  • b) An explanation added to the original anatomical terms (ermen T 21, rugen S 18, jizhong Gv 6).
  • c) A hole near to the anatomical spot (jianliao T 14, quanliao Si 18, zhouliao Li 12).

2. Physiology.

  • a) Physiological function (qihai CV 6, xuehai Sp 10).
  • b) Organic function of the nearby organs (chengjiang Cv 24, chengqi S 1, tinggong Si 19).

3. Therapy.

  • a) According to the organ under treatment (xinshu B 15, ganshu B 18, pishu B 20).
  • b) According to the disease under treatment (jingming B 1, guangming G 37).

4. Yin and Yang.

  • a) Points lying in the region of the chest and back belong to Yin as well as Yang (zhiyang Gv 9, huiyin Cv 1).
  • b) Points lying on the external surface of the limbs belong to Yang (yangxi Li 5, yanggu Si 5, yanglingquan G 34, yangjiao G 35).
  • c) Points lying on the inner surface of the limbs belong to Yin (yinlingquan Sp 9, yinlian Liv 11).

Division of the Acupuncture Points

The points can be divided into three main categories:

1. The Inconstant Points (Ashixue). These points have no names and are not fixed. They are called ashixue, budingxue, tianyingxue or tongyingxue – inconstant points, which are determined individually. In the beginning the Chinese thought that they were the spots where the trouble was but later they discovered that inconstant points could be far from the affected area. When pressed firmly with the finger, the pain in the affected area recedes. These points are not included in the classical 365 points.

2. The Extra Points (Jing Wai Qi Xue). This name suggests that they lie, outside of the fixed routes and are also not included in the classical 365 points. Their position, however, is definitely fixed. As they are efficacious, they are called Qi Xue (miraculous points). Each author gives a different number of these points (Zhu Lian 2, Cheng Dan’an 132, Li Qianxia 34).

3. The 365 classical acupuncture points which lie along the Fourteen Meridians.

If we compare the number of the points given during the Han dynasty (160 points) and that of today (365 points), we see it has doubled. It is possible that during the further development some of the points will no longer be used since they are not very efficient and the possibility that new ones will be discovered, is not excluded.

There exist a traditional method to denote the points according to their special character. Though these terms occur mostly in the traditional works and are not found in the works of Zhu Lian, Cheng Dan’an or Li Qianxia, I shall only mention them briefly here in order to give a complete picture.

1. The Source Points (Yuan Xue) are described as points where the True Qi from the Zang and Fu Organs flows into the Jing and Luo; therefore they can be used for all diseases of the Zang and Fu Organs.

taiyuan L 9 taibai Sp 3 hegu Li 4
daling Cx 7 taichong Liv 3 yangchi T 4
shenmen H 7 taixi K 3
(F. Mann K 5)
wangu Si 4
(F. Mann Si 8)
chongyang S 42
qiuxu G 40
jinggu B 64

2. The Fissure points (Xi Xue). Thse are described as points where there is an excess of Qi and Blood. After insertion the excess is released. They are used in the treatment of acute diseases.

Kongzui L 6, wenliu Li 7, liangqiu S 34, diji Sp 8, yinxi H 6, yanglao Si 6, jinmen B 63, shuiquan K 5, ximen Cx 4, huizong T 7, waiqiu G 36, zhongdu Liv 6, zhubin K 9, yangjiao G 35, jiaoxin K 8, fuyang B 59.

3. The Luo Points (Luo Xue). These points connect two coupled meridians, the Yang with the Yin and the Zang Organs with the Fu Organs. They are employed to examine the fullness or emptiness of the respective organ.

There exist the following Luo Points:

  • a) On the hand; lieque L 7, neiguan Cx 6, tongli H 15, pianli Li 6, waiguan T 5, zhizheng Si 7.
  • b) On the leg: gongsun Sp 4, ligou Liv 5, dazhong K 4 (F.Mann K 6), fenglong S 40, guangming G 37, feiyang B 58.
  • c) On the body: jiuwei Cv 15, changq jiang Gv 1, dabao Sp 21.

4. Alarm Points (Mu Xue). These are the points on the chest and abdomen, lying mostly in the vicinity of their organs, where Qi of the respective organs is accumulated. They produce an evident effect in curing the internal organs which have been neglected for a long time. They restore the disturbed balance between Yang and Yin. There exist the following points: zhongfu L1, qimen Liv 14, riyue G 24, zhangmen Liv 13 (F. Mann Cv 13), jingmen G 25, tianshu S 25, shanzhong Cv 17, juque Cv 14, zhonwan Cv 12, guanyuan Cv 4, shimen Cv 5, zhongji Cv 3.

Felix Mann also mentions G 23 and Cv 15, discovered by SouliƩ de Morant. According to ZHENJIUXUE GAIYAO the point shanzhong Cv 17 was added to the list from the Japanese sources.

5. The Back Points (Bei Shu Xue). These are the points on the back into which the Qi of the internal organs is poured. They are effective in curing the Zang as well as the Fu Organs. In the case the Zang or the Fu Organs become ill, an abnormal reaction appears in these points. There exist the same difference between the Alarm Points and the Back Points as between Yang and Yin. The Alarm Points belong to Yin, while the Back Points belong to Yang. The Alarm Points are used more in old and obstinate diseases, while the Back Points are more suitab1e for the diseases of the respective internal organs or other diseases associated with the internal organs. There exist the following points:

Organs Back Points Organs Back Points
lungs feishu B 13 stomach weishu B 21
pericardium jueyinshu B 14 triple warmer sanjiaoshu B 22
heart xinshu B 15 kidney shenshu B 23
liver ganshu B 18 large intestine dachangshu B 25
gall danshu B 19 small intestine xiaochangshu B 27
spleen pishu B 20 bladder pangguangahu B 28

6. The Five Elementary Points (Wu Shu Xue). These Points are called by Felix Mann The Sixty six Antique Points. On each of the Twelve Meridians there are five points the relation between which corresponds to that between the Five Elements. These are the points at the extremities of the limbs (from the tip of the fingers to the elbow on the arms and from the tips of the toes to the knee on the legs). The names of these five points are in Chinese called Jing I., Ying, Shu, Jing II and He. It is difficult to translate the names. They denote a flow of Qi. Thus Jing I denotes the point where the Qi appears as a spring, Ying means a small current of water, Shu denotes a stream, Jing II. a torrent and He the fusion of water. The Jing points I. are mainly used in nervous diseases and heart oppression (sensation of fullness below the heart), the Ying points are suitable for hot diseases, the Shu points are recommended for rheumatic paralysis and pain, the Jing points I. mainly cure cough and He points are chiefly used for diseases of the stomach, intestine and the Six Fu Organs.

The order of the Yang meridians is metal, water, wood, fire, earth, while that of the Yin meridians is wood, fire, earth, metal and water. The following chart shows the relation between the Five Elementary Points and the Five Elements.

The five elementary points of the yin meridians

The Five
Lungs shaoshang L11 yuji L 10 taiyuan L 9 jingqu L 8 chize L5
Pericardium zhong-chong Cx 9 laogong Cx 8 dailing Cx 7 jianshi Cx 5 quze Cx 3
Heart shaochong H 9 shaofu H 8 shenmen H 7 lingdao H 4 shaohai H 3
yinbai Sp 1 dadu Sp 2 taibai Sp 3 shangqiu Sp 5 yinlingquan Sp 9
Liver dadun Liv 1 singjian Liv 2 taichong Liv 3 zhongfeng Liv 4 ququan Liv 8
Kidney yongquan K 1 rangu K 2 taixi K 3 fuliu K 7 yingu K 10

The five elementary points of the yang meridians

The Five
Large intestine shangyang Li 1 erjian Li 2 sanjian Li 3 yangxi Li 5 quchi Li 11
Triple warmer guanchong T 1 yemen T 2 zhongdu T 3 zhigou T 6 tianjing T 10
Small intestine shaoze Si 1 qiangu Si 2 houxi Si 3 yanggu Si 5 xiaohai Si 8
Stomach lidui S 45 neiting S 44 xiangu S 43 jiexi S 41 zusanli S 36
Gall zuqiaoyin G 33 jiaxi G 33 zulinqi G 41 yangfu G 38 yanglingquan G 34
Bladder zhiyin B 67 tonggu B 66 shugu B 65 kunlun B 60 weizhong B 40

7. The Eight Meeting Points (Ba Hui Xue). These are the meeting points of the Zang Organs, Fu Organs, Qi, Blood, bones, marrow, tendons and vessels and are effective in curing the respective diseases. Their names are the following: The Zang Organs – zhangmen Liv 13; the Fu Organs – zhongwan Cv 12; Qi – shanzhong Cv 17; Blood – geshu B 17; tendons – yangjiaoquan G 34; vessels taiyuan L 9; bones – dazhu B 11; marrow xuanzhong G 39.

8. The Meeting Points of the Eight Extra Meridians (Ba Mai Jiao Hui Xue). These are the points where the Qi of two or more meridians combine. By needling these points not only the diseases of the respective meridians on which they are located, but even the diseases of the meridians intersecting them can be cured. They are the following points: zhangmen Liv 13; zhongwan Cv 12; shanzhong Cv 17; geshu B 17; dazhu B 11; xuanzhong Gv 39; yanglingquan G 34; taiyuan L 9.