To understand the basics of acupuncture, it is best to familiarize yourself with the acupuncture points chart.
The number of acupuncture points was originally established to correlate with the number of days in the year – 365, but because acupuncturists in all parts of Asia came to identify points on the body differently, there was never an exact standard number. However, the World Health Organization (WHO) Scientific Group met in 1989 to adopt a proposed standard acupuncture nomenclature for international use, and it was then that 361 points were agreed upon.
The WHO also identified an additional 48 points that are included in the international standard. The criteria for including the extra points were: common usage, considered clinically effective, had a clear anatomical location and were at least .5 centimeters from a classical point.
While there are multiple acupuncture locations on the body, most acupuncturists still look to the traditionally identified points. The acupuncture points are mapped to 14 main meridian channels. In Chinese medicine, a meridian channel is also known as a Jing Iou through which Qi (vital life energy) Xue (blood), Jinye (body fluids), Jing (essence) and Shen (spirit) flow. One meridian channel relates to each of the 12 inner organs. The two additional channels relate to “extraordinary vessels” – the interior of the spine (governing vessel) and another along the midline of the abdomen (conception vessel).
Meridians are like a network and can be compared to the circulatory system in Western medicine, however, meridians are not visible, but rather energetic. Each of the 14 meridian channels has a specific number, and acupuncture points meanings. Those include:
Lung (1); Large intestine (20); Stomach (45); Spleen (21); Heart (9); Small intestine (19); Bladder (67); Kidney (27); Pericardium (9); Triple energizer, an organ recognized in Chinese medicine, but not Western medicine (23); Gallbladder (44); Liver (14); Governing Vessel (28, also known as the sea of yang); and Conception Vessel (24, also known as the sea of yin).
Each acupuncture point can treat a multiple list of disorders.
Commonly used points and acupuncture treatments include:
- Stomach Channel: ST36 – Located on the front of the leg and below the knee, this point treats digestive disorders, immune deficiency, fatigue and a variety of other illnesses. It is also emotionally and physically grounding.
- Spleen Channel: SP6 – Located on the inner side of the leg above the ankle, this point treats hormonal disorders like irregular menstruation, digestion and immune disorders.
- Liver Channel: LV3 – Located on the top of the foot and between the second and first toes, this point treats headaches, is used to balance emotional energy, regulate menstruation and reduce high blood pressure.
- Governing Vessel: GV20 – Located on top of the head, this point treats vertigo, ear and nasal disorders and various mental disorders.
- Conception Vessel: CV12 –Located midway between the breast bone and the navel, this point treats digestive disorders and harmonizes the intestines.
- Conception Vessel: CV6 –Located approximately 1.5 inches below the navel, this point treats exhaustion, weak Spleen Qi and the energy of the low abdomen and organs.
- Large Intestine Channel: LI4 – Located on the back side of the hand between the thumb and first finger, this point activates the immune system and helps pain, especially in the face.
- Kidney Channel: KI3 – Located behind the inner ankle, this point treats asthma, insomnia, sore throat and lower back pain.
- On the back of the body, there are several acupuncture points along both sides of the spine that connect to the yin organs (solid organs). These acupuncture points are considered to be very powerful in strengthening the heart, liver, lung, kidney and pericardium (sack around the heart), and are very important in Chinese medicine. Many of the points located on the Bladder Channel can treat a variety of conditions. The common points and their indications include the following:
- BL13 – Treats all lung-related issues, including asthma, bronchitis, nasal congestion and sore throat.
- BL14 – This point can help conditions that relate to the pericardium, including palpitations, anxiety and stress, depression and panic attacks.
- BL15 – Treats all heart-related issues, including blood and circulatory problems. It is the main point for all emotional issues related to the heart, such as palpitations, anxiety, fear, stress and poor memory. It can also help with insomnia and night sweats.
- BL18 – Main point for all physical liver conditions, such as hepatitis, jaundice and cirrhosis. It is an important point for relieving emotional issues like depression, anger, irritability and stress.
- BL21 – This point can help alleviate problems associated with the spleen. Some physical spleen issues include distention, abdominal pain, bloating and poor appetite.
- BL23 – This point treats the entire kidney system. It can improve sexual deficiency problems in men, such as impotence, as well as female sexual and reproductive disorders like irregular menstrual cycles and infertility. It is also a main point for lower back pain and sprains, and is useful for ear-related issues like tinnitus and deafness.