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Selection and Combination of Body Points in Chinese Acupuncture

In Chinese acupuncture treatment, the primary goal is to unblock the meridians, activate the blood and qi circulation, and harmonize the yin and yang elements so that the body can heal itself. The selection and combination of acupoints based on disease characteristics is extremely important as this determines how TCM practitioners can flexibly design prescriptions for all medical conditions. There are proven prescriptions which have worked through centuries for diseases in men, women, children and the elderly, and these are readily available in books and can fit into most clinical diagnoses. Practitioners also rely on their clinical experience to enhance their overall efficacy and skills.

Acupuncture Treatment

Properties of the Acupoints

According to TCM experience, a selected acupoint that is stimulated by acupuncture techniques can achieve its therapeutic effects in following ways:

Local effect: This is a common feature for all the acupoints. Each acupoint has effects on the local region, or the involved nearby tissues and organs. For example, feng chi (Gb 20, the depressions below the occipital bone) is indicated for head and eye problems; zhong wan (Cv 12, center of upper abdomen) is indicated for the stomach and duodenal problems; he gu (Li 4, palm web between the thumb and index finger) is indicated for elbow problems. It is said that selectivity of a particular point is for the location only; the therapeutic effects of the point don't have much difference for various conditions on the same location.

Remote and general effects: Acupoints especially those located in the distal part of the limbs can exert their effects on far away regions, such as the head, trunk and internal organs, depend on their corresponding meridians. The acupoints can create particular phenomena, for example, zu san li (St 36) can induce general reinforcement while ren zhong (Gv 26) and hui yin (Cv 1) can induce respiratory excitement. However, these remote effects are not specific, because an acupoint can act on multiple systems, e.g. zu san li (St 36) has its effect on digestion, respiration, circulation and immune defense systems; several acupoints such as zu san li (St 36), qu chi (Li 11), he gu (Li 4), nei guan (Pc 6) and tai chong (Lr 3) can all lower blood pressure. Sometimes combining acupoints together can create mutual enhancement or inhibition results, for example, nei guan (Pc 6) regulates the heartbeat, but when combined with jiao xin (Ki 8), the effect is diminished.

Dual regulatory effect: The body's functional state has a great influence on the effectiveness of acupuncture and moxibustion treatment. Even stimulating the same acupoint, there may be entirely different results due to different conditions. For example, when the heartbeat is fast, puncturing the nei guan (Pc 6) can make it slower, on the other hand, a slow heartbeat can be made faster by puncturing on nei guan (Pc6). The acupoint he gu (Li 4) can be used to induce sweating in feverish conditions, but when the patient already has profuse sweating, it can then be used to arrest sweating. The acupoint tian shu (St 25) is indicated for both diarrhea and constipation.