Monday, June 1, 2009

My favourite point: G.B.-13 Benshen Spirit Root

a) Nature
Point of the Yang Linking Vessel (Yang Wei Mai).
Meeting point of the 3 Yang Muscle channels of the arm.

b) Actions
- Calms the Mind (Shen) and settles the Ethereal Soul (Hin)
- Subdues Liver-Yang
- Extinguishes Wind
- Resolves Phlegm
- Gathers Essence (Jing) to the head
- Clears the brain.

c) Indications
Manic behaviour, fright
Headache, dizziness
Epilepsy, hemiplegia, convulsions
Vomiting of foamy saliva, epilepsy with foaming at the mouth.

d) Comments
G.B.-13 is a very important point for mental and emotional problems. It is very much used in psychiatric practice for schizophrenia and split personality combined with HE-5 Tongli and G.B.-38 Yangfu.1 It is also indicated when the person has persistent and unreasonable feelings of jealousy and suspicion.
Apart from these mental traits, it has a powerful effect in calming the Mind, settling the Ethereal Soul (Hun) and relieving anxiety deriving from constant worry and fixed thoughts. Its effect is enhanced if it is combined with Du-24 Shenting.
Its deep mental and emotional effect is also due to its action of “gathering” Essence (Jing) to the head. The Kidney-Essence is the root of our Pre-Heaven Qi and is the foundation for our mental and emotional life. A strong Essence is the fundamental prerequisite for a clear Mind (Shen) and a balanced emotional life. This is the meaning of this point's name “Root of the Spirit”, i.e. this point gathers the Essence which is the root of the Mind (Shen) and Spirit. The Kidney-Essence is the source of Marrow which fills up the Brain (called Sea of Marrow): G.B.-13 is a point where Essence and Marrow “gather”. The “Great Dictionary of Acupuncture” says that this point “makes the Mind [Shen] return to its root”2: the “root” of the Mind is the Essence, hence this point “gathers” the Essence to the Brain and affects the Mind. As it connects the Mind and the Essence, it also treats both the Heart and the Kidneys and therefore the Mind (Shen) and Will-Power (Zhi): for this reason, it is an important point in the treatment of depression.
When combined with other points to nourish Essence (such as Ren-4 Guangyuan), G.B.-13 attracts Essence towards the head with the effect of calming the Mind and strengthening clarity of mind, memory and will power. The connection between G.B.-13 and the Essence is confirmed by the text “An Enquiry into Chinese Acupuncture” which has among the indications of this point: “excessive menstrual bleeding, impotence and seminal emissions.”3
G.B.-13 also subdues Liver-Yang and it can therefore be used as a local point in chronic headaches from Liver-Yang rising. It also extinguishes internal Wind and is effective for Wind-stroke and epilepsy. Finally, it resolves Phlegm in the context of mental-emotional disorders or epilepsy, i.e. it opens the Mind's orifices when these are clouded by Phlegm. The “Explanation of the Acupuncture Points” says: “The indications of G.B.-13 show that it eliminates the three pathogenic factors of Wind, Fire and Phlegm from the Lesser Yang, in which cases this point should be reduced.”4

1. Dr Zhang Ming Jiu, personal communication, Nanjing 1982.
2. Cheng Bao Shu 1988 Great Dictionary of Acupuncture (Zhen Jiu Da Ci Dian), Beijing Science Publishing House, Beijing, p. 11.
3. Jiao Shun Fa 1987 An Enquiry into Chinese Acupuncture (Zhong Guo Zhen Jiu Qiu Zhen), Shanxi Science Publishing House, p. 52.
4. Yue Han Zhen 1990 An Explanation of the Acupuncture Points (Jing Xue Jie), People's Health Publishing House, Beijing. Originally published in 1654, p. 334.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Stomach crack on the tongue

The Stomach crack on the tongue is rather wide and it is in the central section of the tongue (corresponding to Middle Burner). To contrast and compare the Heart and Stomach cracks, the former is rather narrow and runs all along the tongue from near the root to near the tip, while the latter is rather wide and is only in the middle of the tongue. Please see previous posts to see pictures of a Heart crack.
A Stomach crack indicates the tendency to Stomach-Yin deficiency. People with such a crack often have no digestive symptoms but I always recommend treating it by using Ren-12, ST-36 and SP-6.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

My favourite herbal formula - Gan Mai Da Zao Tang

Gan Mai Da Zao Tang Glycyrrhiza-Triticum-Jujuba Decoction is first mentioned in the Jin Gui Yao Lue by Zhang Zhong Jing (220 AD). It is in chapter 22 “Pulses and Patterns of Complicated Women’s Diseases”. Zhang Zhong Jing says “Women suffering from anxiety are affected by sadness and crying, they are like lost souls [shen ling] and yawn frequently: use Gan Mai Da Zao Tang.
I use this formula for depressed mood and anxious mood occurring against a background of deficiency (which may be of Qi or Blood). I call this one of the “magic” formulae because the very simple ingredients do not explain the profound effect of this formula. In fact, the ingredients (only three) are mild foods: licorice, wheat husks and dates.
Since this formula has only three ingredients, I sometimes add it to another formula I am using.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Clinical Tip of the Day no. 3

A red tip of the tongue is very common. The tip corresponds to the Heart and the Shen and a redness of the tip always indicates emotional stress affecting the Heart: the redder the tip, the more intense the stress. Why is the tip affected and why does it become red? The Heart is affected by all emotions as it houses the Shen that feels them. When we feel angry, anger affects the Liver automatically, but it is the Shen of the Heart that “feels” the anger. Thus, a red tip of the tongue may be caused by any of the emotions, e.g. anger, sadness, grief, worry, fear, etc.

Why does the tip become red? The first effect of emotional stress is some Qi stagnation: when Qi stagnates, it frequently gives rise to Heat and hence the redness of the tip. If, besides being red, the tip is also swollen and has red points, it indicates that the emotional stress is even greater.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

My favourite points - no. 2

LU-3 Tianfu (3 cun below axillary fold)
Window of Heaven point. These points regulate the ascending and descending of Qi from the body to and from the head: they do so in the crucial neck area. Therefore, they can both subdue rebellious Qi and promote the ascending of clear Qi to the head.

On a psychic level, LU-3 action in regulating the ascending and descending of Qi to and from the head has a mental-emotional effect. For example, insomnia is due to Qi ascending too much to the head (or not descending from it) while somnolence and forgetfulness are due to clear Qi not ascending to the head. The “Explanation of the Acupuncture Points” (1642) says that LU-3 can make Qi rise to treat forgetfulness, sadness and weeping due to Qi not rising to head. Forgetfulness is an important indication for this point: this is forgetfulness due to clear Qi not rising to the head. According to the “Explanation of the Acupuncture Points”, this point treats forgetfulness by stimulating the ascending of Qi of both Lungs and Heart.

The mention of weeping in this ancient text is interesting. It means that this point treats afflictions of the Lungs from sadness and grief leading to weeping.

Finally, “talking to ghosts” features heavily in this point's indications. Generally speaking, when ancient books mention such symptoms as talking or seeing ghosts among the indications of a point, it means that the point is indicated for relatively serious mental-emotional problems and, in particular, when the Mind is obstructed. Obstruction of the Mind can potentially cause serious mental problems such as manic-depression or psychosis. Again, this point can open the Mind's orifices, i.e. de-obstruct the Mind by regulating the ascending and descending of Qi to and from the head: it opens the Mind's orifices by promoting the descending of turbid Qi from the head and the ascending of clear Qi to the head (which, as we have seen above, is a general function of the Window of Heaven points).

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

My favourite points

Du-24 Shenting (Spirit Courtyard)
Du-24 is a very important and powerful point to calm the Mind. It is frequently combined with G.B.-13 Benshen for severe anxiety and fears.

An important feature of this point which makes it particularly useful is that it can both calm and lift the Mind: therefore it is used not only for anxiety and insomnia but also for depression and sadness. It is also used in psychiatric practice for schizophrenia and manic behaviour.

The name of this point refers to its strong influence on the Mind and Spirit. The courtyard was traditionally considered to be a very important part of the traditional Chinese house as it was the one that gave the first impression to visitors; it is the entrance. Thus, this point could be said to be the "entrance" to the Mind and Spirit and its being a courtyard, highlights its importance. Being the "entrance", it controls our relationships with others.

I call this point the "arena of Shen and Hun": this point regulates the movement of the Hun. When the movement of the Hun is excessive, the person is slightly manic; when deficient, the person is depressed. This point regulates the movement of the Hun and the control of the Shen over the Hun.

The point combines very well with Ren-15 Jiuwei to calm the Shen and lift mood in both anxiety and depression.

Clinical tip of the day no. 2 - Heart crack

The Heart crack on the tongue is relatively common. This crack is in the midline extending from near the root to near the tip; it therefore extends nearly the whole length of the tongue. The Heart crack indicates the constitutional tendency to mental-emotional problems: the deeper the crack, the stronger this tendency. If the Heart crack is accompanied by a change in the tongue-body colour and a red tip, it then indicates actual mental-emotional problems.

The two tongues presented here both have a Heart crack. The worst is the one on the bottom because the crack is deeper.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

The view of tobacco in Chinese medicine

- Tobacco was introduced in China in 1575.

- The Zhen Nan Ben Cao (Ming) concludes that tobacco is pungent in taste, hot and toxic without any medicinal effect.

- The Ben Cao Cong Xin says “People nowadays inhale smoke down to the throat: this damages Blood and the voice.”

- Emperor Chong Zhen (Ming) enacts laws against smoking.

- Qu Ci Shan (Qing) says: “Tobacco is pungent and drying, it burns Jing (Kidneys) and the Fluids, damages the throat, the Stomach and the Lungs…it enters the Heart orifice causing mental confusion as if one were drunk. It makes the tongue coating dark-yellow or black, food and drink have no taste, the medical texts have no treatment for this.”

- Zhao Xue Min (Qing) thought that smoking damages the Lungs, exhausts Blood, injures Shen and shortens life.

The above statements are interesting as they show that, according to Chinese medicine, tobacco is drying, it dries up Fluids and the Jing (Essence). So, Western medicine focusses on the effects of tobacco on the lungs while Chinese medicine considers it to deplete Kidney-Jing as well. This would explain the toxicity of tobacco in pregnancy.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Clinical Tip of the Day

When treating the elderly, we should not over-emphasize Kidney deficiency.

Yes, most elderly people (though not all) will suffer from some form of Kidney deficiency but the most serious diseases of the elderly are caused by Phlegm, Blood stasis and internal Wind. These three pathogenic factors play a role in the pathology of stroke, coronary heart disease, cancer, high cholesterol, diabetes, hypertension, Parkinson's disease and Alzheimer's.

It follows therefore, that in treating the elderly, we should pay attention to resolving Phlegm, invigorating Blood and extinguishing Wind. These pathologies are also reflected in the pulse of the elderly that is frequently hard, Wiry and Slippery.