Some Interesting Facts about Acupuncture Points and Meridians

Acupuncture is one among many modes of treatment used in traditional Chinese Medicine. This technique sticks filiform fine needles into pressure points or acupuncture points on the body to cure illnesses by stimulating the energy channels or meridians (Jingluos). The Chinese call these acupuncture points Hsuewei or Shu hsue which both means ‘the transmiting points’ but the English translation of these words is not very accurate.

Acupuncture points or acupoints, for short, are the sensitive points or responsive points on the energy channels and other parts of the body. Energy is dispatched in these points that are located between the surface and the inner structures of the body. Acupoints can mirror unhealthy conditions or diseases by producing painful sensations when pressed or touched. In most cases, these acupoints are where acupuncturists apply treatments. Harmful or negative energy is able to infiltrate the body through those channels, when the body lacks positive energy and resulting in illness. When the meridians associated with the illness are stimulated, they can mobilize and increase the positive energy, which balances Yin and Yang energy and heal the disease. There are three types of meridian points:

1. 14 primary meridian points
2. Extraordinary points
3. ‘Yes’ points

The 14 primary meridian points include the conception and governor vessels and the 12 main meridians of the body. They are considered the main acupuncture points. Each acupoint of a meridian save for the ‘Yes’ points has a fixed location and a unique name. The extraordinary points are acupoints that have fixed locations and names. Those locations do not correspond to any specific meridian. The last type of points, the ‘Yes’ points are also known as pain points and they have no fixed locations and names. These points are the sensitive ones and they are associated with the disease. Legend states that the ‘yes’ label came about when a doctor unintentionally pressed a spot on the patient’s body causing the patient to utter, ‘oh yes’.

The human body has about 360 acupuncture points. For self-caring and self-healing purposes, we don’t have to memorize all these points. The only acupoints we need to remember are the 20 most effective and most used acupoints. It’s important to use acupuncture point or meridian charts if one needs to use more acupoints. Each acupoint has a meaningful and unique name that reveals relevant information about that specific point including its location, usage, main function, and others. For English-speaking users, the acupoint’s anglicized Chinese name is directly used. If you don’t speak Chinese, it is difficult to appreciate the significance of each name and this makes it hard to remember all the Chinese sounding names. However, it’s rather easy to remember the format of the international symbols for acupoints. It only makes sense that the symbols are associated with those meridians since most of the acupoints are related to one specific meridian (Jing). In abbreviated form, the first two letters of a meridian’s name are used as well as the numbers of all the points along the way, from the initial point to the final point and to identify a specific acupoint. As an example, the Chinese name of the ‘sea of blood’ acupoint is Hsue-hai point. This acupoint is labeled so because it is usually used for blood-related conditions. In English, It’s symbolized as SP10, since it’s related to the spleen meridian and is the 10th acupoint from the initial point.

How to Find an Acupoint?

It can be really difficult to locate an acupoint when you view it as a tiny point. But if you think of it as a small but exact area, it then becomes easy to find. You will need two coordinates in order to locate one on a 2D chart. To find a sensitive point, we need a distance and a reference point. You use your own hand to measure the distance. The reference point is a conspicuous part of the body, such as ‘the ankle bone’s highest point, the tip of one’s nose, etc.. The unit of measure of an acupoint is called ‘cun’. One ‘cun’ equals your thumb’s width at the mid joint. Two ‘cun’ equals the middle three fingers’ width at the mid joints. Three ‘cun’ equals four fingers’ width (minus the thumb) at mid joints. You have found the right acupoint if you feel some soreness and/or feel a little pain when you press on it. If your pain is acute, then this means you are not well somewhere. Each main meridian has a primary or initial point. This is the acupoint where the primary energy of the energy channel originates. One of the best ways to enhance the positive energy in this energy channel is to stimulate its primary point.

Jamie Catlett is an acupuncturist in Jacksonville, FL and the founder of Jacksonville Acupuncture Clinic.