Friday, March 15, 2013


I often use points of the Heart channel for lower backache, particularly in men. The reason is the same as that given for the use of these points for men's sexual problems: the Heart is like an "Upper Kidney" and it therefore naturally influences the lower back. I find that the point HE-7 Shenmen is the best for this function because, besides its indirect action on the Kidney channel (and therefore the lower back), it also has a general anti-spastic effect, thus relaxing the muscles. I usually combine this point with the opening points of the Du Mai (only if the pain stems from the spine area).

An example of a combination in a man would be SI-3 Houxi on the left, BL-62 Shenmai on the right, HE-7 Shenmen on the right and KI 4 Dazhong on the left. If the pain is unilateral, I use KI-4 Dazhong on the side of the pain and HE-7 Shenmen on the opposite side.

Nausea, Vomiting
Although nausea and vomiting are always related to Stomach-Qi ascending instead of descending, Heart-Qi also has (or should have) a descending movement. The "Explanation of Acupuncture Points" says: "When Heart-Qi rebels upwards there is belching or vomiting: this means that Heart-Qi is full; tonifying the Water point [HE-3 Shaohai] will make Qi descend". The same also specifically recommends it for nausea and vomiting. The same text also recommends HE-5 Tongli for vomiting of bitter fluids and HE-7 Shenmen for vomiting of blood. The "Great Dictionary of Chinese Acupuncture" mentions also HE-6 Yinxi for vomiting of blood and HE-1 Jiquan for dry vomiting.

Furthermore, the Heart channel is closely related to the epigastrium; in fact, in the old times, the distinction between Heart pain and Epigastric pain was somewhat blurred. Incidentally, this is borne out by modern medicine too when symptoms of incipient cardiac infarction may often resemble indigestion.

Thus, if Heart-Qi ascends rather than descend, nausea and vomiting may ensue (which incidentally may also occur in the prodromal stage of a heart infarction). This is probably the reason why P-6 Neiguan (acting on the Heart) is such an important point for nausea and vomiting. From the Heart channel, HE-5 Tongli is the best point, and also Ren-15 Jiuwei or Ren-14 Juque both of which act on the Heart.

Calm Nerves in Asthma
Points of the Heart channel can be used to treat acute attacks of asthma. This is probably due to their anti-spastic action and they presumably relax the bronchial muscles and therefore relieve broncho constriction. Thus, in this case, Heart point are not used to "calm the Mind" but to relax the bronchial muscles.

The main point used is HE-7 Shenmen, usually in combination with Du-24 Shenting and Ren-15 Jiuwei (which relaxes the chest and acts on the Heart). The "Explanation of Acupuncture Points" recommends HE-7 Shenmen for rebellious Qi and Heart-Fire causing breathlessness. Heart points also help asthma because they help to restore the descending of Qi in the chest. The "Great Compendium of Acupuncture" recommends HE-7 Shenmen, SP-9 Yinlingquan, BL-60 Kunlun and GB-41 Zulinqi for breathlessness.

Heart points can be used to alleviate tremors in Parkinson's disease. They have an effect on tremors for two reasons: first, through the anti spastic effect mentioned above; secondly, because Heart points will nourish Yin in the arm and will help to alleviate tremors of the arm (since Wind, especially in old people, derives from Yin deficiency). The main points are HE-7 Shenmen, HE-6 Yinxi and HE-5 Tongli. The "Great Dictionary of Chinese Acupuncture" recommends the point HE-3 Shaohai for contracture of the hand and numbness of the arm.

When treating the tremor of Parkinson, I would advise in any case not using too many Yang points on the arm as Yang corresponds to movement. Thus, I would balance the Yang points with some from Yin channels and especially those from the Heart channel.

Interestingly, the extra point for tremors called Xiaochanxue (Stopping Tremor Point) is located on the Heart channel (1.5. cun below HE-3 Shaohai).

The best point is HE-5 Tongli. The Su Wen mentions a combination for swollen and painful knee: SI-2 Qiangu, HE-8 Shaofu, KI-2 Rangu and BL-66 Tonggu. The Heart points affect the knee firstly because of the relationship with the Kidney channel and secondly, because Heart points can be used to clear Heat and cool Blood in general. I have tried this combination many times and it works. In my experience, it is best when the knee is inflamed and swollen.

Both the Heart main and Luo channels flow to the eye and Heart points can therefore be used for eye problems, especially from inflammation. The best point is HE-5 Tongli. In fact the "Explanation of Acupuncture Points" recommends HE-5 Tongli for painful and red eye (from Heart-Fire) and HE-7 Shenmen for yellow and painful eye.

Urinary Problems
The Heart channel points can be used for urinary problems due to its connection with the Bladder channel through the Small Intestine channel. In fact, the Heart is exteriorly-interiorly connected to the Small Intestine and this, in turn, has an Above-Below connection with the Bladder channel within the Tai Yang channels. The Heart channel is particularly used for Lin urinary problems from Heart-Heat transmitting to the Small Intestine and Bladder, and the main point is HE-8 Shaofu, in combination with SI-2 Qiangu, BL-66 Tonggu. Sometimes Heart-Fire combines with Liver-Fire to cause urinary problems and the main points are HE-8 Shaofu and LIV-2 Xingjian. The "Explanation of Acupuncture Points" recommends HE-8 Shaofu (with reducing method) for urinary problems.

Monday, March 11, 2013


Chapter 6 of the Su Wen introduces the concept of channels “opening onto the exterior” (or being the “opening”), closing onto the interior (or “being the door leaf”) and being the pivot (or hinge).

In this chapter the order for the Yang channels is as follows:
Tai Yang opens
Yang Ming closes
Shao Yang is the pivot
The order for the Yin channels is:
Tai Yin opens
Jue Yin closes
Shao Yin is the pivot

With regard to the Yin channels I personally see the Jue Yin as the pivot (I call it “hinge”) and the Shao Yin as opening onto the interior (or “closing”).  There are various reasons for this.

 Firstly, if we read chapter 6 of the Su Wen in full and we look at the context of the exterior/interior/hinge quote, we will see that things are not quite as they seem. It sounds like this chapter is talking more about Zangfu organs than channels and more about the trunk and abdomen than arm or leg channels.

Secondly, the very same chapter also says:  “The vessel behind Tai Yin is Shao Yin. The vessel in front of Shao Yin is Jue Yin.” Therefore, Tai Yin is in front of Shao Yin and Jue Yin is in front of Shao Yin: this means that Jue Yin is in the middle between Tai Yin (the ‘front”) and Shao Yin (the “back”).  That sounds very much like the Jue Yin is in between the Tai Yin and the Shao Yin, i.e. it is the “hinge”.  Moreover, when it talks about the Yang, chapter 6 says: “The vessel outside the Jue Yin is the Shao Yang.”  As the Shao Yang is the hinge of the Yang, it being “outside the Jue Yin” would imply that the Jue Yin must be a hinge too.Of course the Shao Yang (Triple Burner and Gall-Bladder) have a Yin-Yang connection with the Jue Yin (Pericardium and Liver) and that is why this chapter says that the Shao Yang is "outside" the Jue Yin.

Thirdly, the book “Great Treatise of Chinese Acupuncture” (Zhong Guo Zhen Jiu Da Quan) by Wang Xue Tai uses similar terminology when it refers to “front”, “middle” and “back” of channels, which I would translate as “lateral”, “middle” and “medial”.  This book confirms that the Jue Yin is in the "middle".

This is reflected all over the body in the situation of the channels (with the exception of the lower leg). For example, if we look at the chest, we have the Spleen channel (Tai Yin) outside (lateral), the Kidney channel (Shao Yin) inside (medial) and the Liver channel (Jue Yin) in between.  The same in the abdomen.  This is even clearer in the arm where we have the Lung channel (Tai Yin) on the lateral side, the Pericardium channel (Jue Yin) in the middle and the Heart channel (Shao Yin) on the medial side.  Only the lower leg represents an exception as the Liver channel (Jue Yin) is on the lateral side initially but it crosses over in the middle of the lower leg.                        
The order of arrangement of the 6 Stages in the Shang Han Lun also points to the Jue Yin being the hinge.  In fact, this is the order:

Tai Yang
Yang Ming
Shao Yang
Tai Yin
Shao Yin
Jue Yin

Thus, if Shao Yang is the hinge of the Yang channels, then the Jue Yin must also be of the Yin channels because it occupies a corresponding place in the Yin as that of the Yang.
If we look at the 12 channels during the day (LU-LI-ST-SP, etc.)  we get:

Ext            Int                 Int                Ext          Hinge        Hinge   

Tai Yin    Yang Ming    Shao Yin    Tai Yang    Jue Yin    Shao Yang
LU           LI                 HE               SI               P             TB       
SP            ST                KI                BL            LIV          GB

If we bear in mind the Yin-Yang connections among channels, the Triple Burner (Shao Yang) is connected to the Pericardium (Jue Yin) and the Gall-Bladder (Shao Yang) to the Liver (Jue Yin). Therefore, if the Shao Yang is the hinge of the Yang (as it clearly is), then the Jue Yin must be the hinge of the Yin. The diagrams below illustrate this concept.

 The two diagrams below show the position of the channels in arms and legs as indicated above. The diagram below shows clearly how, if we related the concept of opening/closing/hinge to channel topography, the Jue Yin must be the hinge. Notice how the Heart and Kidney channels are both medial, both "inside", both the "most interior" (and therefore not pivot or hinge) of the Yin channels.

Clinical significance
What is the clinical significance of all this? In my opinion, the clinical significance is more relevant for the Yang than for the Yin channels.  If we look at the Yang channels, it is very obvious why the Tai Yang "opens onto the Exterior". Its channels are lateral, on the outside and cover the very Yang area of back of the neck and back. Not by chance, the first stage of the Shan Han Lun is the Tai Yang stage and not by chance this stage is marked by occipital stiffness (Tai Yang area).

That the Shao Yang is the hinge between Tai Yang and Yang Ming is also clear from the Shang Han Lun.  The Shao Yang Syndrome is characterized by the alternation of feeling cold and feeling hot.  This is due to the fact that the pathogenic factor is trapped between the Tai Yang (exterior) and the Yang Ming (interior): when it floats toward the Tai Yang, the patient feels cold; when it goes to the Yang Ming, the patient feels hot.

In my view, however, the most important clinical significance of the concept of "hinge" is in the field of mental-emotional problems. This is a view according to my experience and not according to Chinese texts.

I see the role of "hinge" of the Shao Yang and Jue Yin as a metaphor of their involvement in relationships, in our relating to others. All four of the Shao Yang and Jue Yin channels play a role in relating but especially so the Jue Yin, i.e. Pericardium and Liver.  The Liver even more so because it houses the Hun which provides the Shen with the "movement" necessary to relate.