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Body Points Selection in Chinese Acupuncture

According to TCM experience, the acupuncture points are specific for the diseased locations only; their therapeutic effects don't have much difference for various conditions on the same location. Practically, physicians will first identify the exact pathological location, and then select the right points based on the result. Sometimes it is also necessary to consider the pathological nature of the disease.

Considerations during point selection:

Local effects: Each acupoint has effects on its local region, for example stomach pain is usually due to qi disturbance inside the stomach, physicians will select zhong wan (Cv 12, center of the upper abdomen) and liang men (St 21, upper abdomen and lateral to the zhong wan). Moreover, identifying the tender points or trigger points in the local region such as a-shi point is particularly essential for acute conditions, which help to dissolve and expel the non-consolidated irritation, for example, for treating headaches tai yang (Ex-hn7, temple area) is selected.

Remote effects: Acupoints located distally to the elbow and knee help enhance efficacy, and are most effective for acute and internal problems. Point selection should be in accordance with the meridian distribution of the lesion and its relationship with the organs. For example, in treating stomachache in addition to selecting the local point zhong wan (Cv 12, alarm point of the stomach), physicians also select zu san li (St 36, sea point of the stomach meridian) as well as nei guan (Pc 6, confluent point that regulates the stomach region). Anal prolapse is usually due to qi deficiency that fails to hold the internal organ in proper place; besides selecting the local point chang qiang (Gv 1, near the anus), physician will also select bai hui (Gv 20, top of the head), due to its effect of uplifting the yang-qi inside the body.

Symptomatic relief: For certain conditions such as fever, sweating, exhaustion, convulsion and coma, they appear as systematic problems and it may not be possible to find a localized lesion. Then it is appropriate to choose customary acupoints with particular functions. For example, ying xiang (Li 20), located at both sides of nose can specifically relieve congestion and bleeding of the nose; this point is often indicated for nasal problems.

Nerve distribution: Modern TCM believes that some actions of acupuncture can be explained by neural segment theory as well, which means that choosing points in the same or the nearest neural segment as that of the area of disturbance. This often used for limb problems, when a point located on a nerve trunk or root above the disease is selected for needling. For example, to treat pain in the lower limbs, the needle can puncture huan tiao (Gb 30), which is located on the sciatic nerve in the hip region.

In practice, each prescription may be used in combination with or independent of the above mentioned condition. For complex cases, a combination of remote and local points not only enhances overall efficacy, but also makes the outcome more sustainable.

Common Body Points for Symptomatic Relief in Chinese Acupuncture

Symptoms Acupoints
Acute high fever da zhui (Gv 14), qu chi (Li 11), he gu (Li 4)
Chronic low fever nei guan (Pc 6), da ling (Pc 7), yin xi (Ht 6), san yin jiao (Sp 6), tai xi (Ki 3)
Shock ren zhong (Gv 26), nei guan (Pc 6), yong quan (Ki 1), zu san li (St 36), su liao (Gv 25)
Exhaustion bai hui (Gv 20), guan yuan (Cv 4), zu san li (St 36)
Body weakness qi hai (Cv 6), guan yuan (Cv 4), ming men (Gv 4), zu san li (St 36)
General convulsion feng chi (Gb 20), tai chong (Lr 3), he gu (Li 4)
Restlessness nei guan (Pc 6), shen men (Ht 7), san yin jiao (Sp 6)
Cough tian tu (Cv 22), lie que (Lu 7), san yin jiao (Sp 6)
Excessive phlegm feng long (St 40), zhong wan (Cv 12)
Swallowing difficulty tian tu (Cv 22), nei guan (Pc 6), lian quan (Cv 23)
Vomiting and nausea nei guan (Pc 6), zu san li (St 36)
Abdominal distention tian shu (St 25), jian li (Cv 11), qi hai (Cv 6), zu san li (St 36), san yin jiao (Sp 6)
Pain on the lateral sides of chest zhi gou (Sj 6), qi men (Lr 14), yang ling quan (Gb 34), san yin jiao (Sp 6)
Urinary retention yang ling quan (Gb 34), san yin jiao (Sp 6)
Urinary incontinence qu gu (Cv 2), san yin jiao (Sp 6)