Acupuncture works by inserting fine needles at specific points on the surface of the body. These points are known as acupuncture points, or sometimes simply acupoints. Let’s take a look at what acupuncture points are, and some of the most commonly used examples.
What are Acupuncture Points?
Acupuncture points are areas on the skin where a needle can be safely inserted to influence the body and mind. They are often found at the junction between two bones, or where a bone meets a muscle or tendon.
The Chinese word for acupoint is xue, meaning ‘cave’ or ‘hollow.’ These are both good descriptions of acupuncture points as they can often be felt as a dip in the surface of the skin. Some acupoints feel tender when you press them with a finger, but this is not always the case. However, when you press an acupuncture point, you will often feel a tingling or ‘buzzy’ sensation which feels different from the surrounding skin.
There are many different acupuncture points covering the body, from the top of the head to the soles of the feet. They all have names and are numbered according to which channel they lie on, and where.
Each point has its own characteristics and uses, but some are more frequently used than others.Read on to learn about the most commonly used acupuncture points and their functions.
The Most Commonly Used Acupuncture Points
There are hundreds of acupuncture points, but they are not all created equal. While some points are fantastic for treating a specific problem, they may not be particularly useful in other situations.
On the other hand, there are some points which have a range of functions and can be used in many different situations. These are the most commonly used acupuncture points and are seen in the clinic on a daily basis.
Stomach 36 – Leg Three Miles
The name ‘Leg Three Miles’ gives us some idea of this famous acupoint’s function. Stomach 36 benefits the digestion and, therefore, promotes healthy qi and blood. This has the effect of increasing energy and endurance, and was traditionally said to help soldiers march three miles further than usual.
Stomach 36 also helps with knee pain due to its location on the lower leg. Other functions include treating nausea, relieving fatigue, and boosting the immune system.
Spleen 6 – Three Yin Junction
The name ‘Three Yin Junction’ refers to the fact that Spleen 6 is the crossing point of three yin meridians: The Spleen, Liver, and Kidneys. As such, it can be used to treat imbalances in any of these organs as well as nourishing they yin energy of the entire body.
Some common uses for Spleen 6 include treating digestive problems and promoting fertility, among others.
Large Intestine 4 – Joining the Valleys
The name of this point refers to its location in the ‘valley’ formed between the forefinger and thumb. Large Intestine 4 is probably best-known for its pain-relieving effects, especially for face or tooth pain.
This point is also sometimes known as the ‘Great Eliminator’ and it can be used to relieve constipation or induce labor. For this reason, it is forbidden to use during pregnancy due to the risk of premature birth.
Liver 3 – Great Rushing
‘Great Rushing’ is a powerful point which can influence the qi of the whole body. It is located on the Liver channel, and this is the organ is responsible for circulating qi. Because of its ability to move qi which has become stuck, Liver 3 can be used to treat all types of pain including headaches, migraines, and period pain.
Liver 3 can also help to alleviate emotional symptoms such as depression. It is sometimes used together with Large Intestine 4 to induce relaxation and calm the mind.
Yin Tang – Seal Hall
Yin Tang is an ‘extra point’ meaning that it does not belong to any of the main channels. However, it is an extremely useful point for treating any kind of mood disorders including depression, anxiety, and chronic stress.
Yin Tang is located between the eyebrows, over the area sometimes known as the third eye. It is a useful point to massage in times of high stress or anxiety. Simply place your thumb over the point and press gently while taking several slow, deep breaths.