ACUPUNCTURE: What’s THAT point for?

Many patients often ask me:  “What is that point for?”

In the study of Chinese Medicine, much of the learning is focused on where acupuncture points are located and why they are used for a particular symptom or sign.  Each point has a specific location and a different action and symptomatic indication.  When used together, they can address complicated symptom patterns to generate wellness.  

Many points are tucked away between bones and muscles, in deep recesses at different places in the body, where the needle can reach and influence a specific organ or meridian (energy channel).  Other points are on the scalp, where a shallow insertion or insertions threaded along the skull, have different therapeutic effects.  Your acupuncturist chooses a certain group of points, spread out among different parts of your body, to give you the most effective treatment for your group of symptoms on any given day.

For instance, there are some points on the abdomen that act on certain digestive symptoms and other points on the arms and legs that act on different aspects of digestion.  When certain points are needled together, they can treat gas and bloating.  When certain other points are needled together, they can treat acid reflux and nausea.  And, if you have gas, bloating, diarrhea, nausea, a poor appetite and are irritable, another group of points can address all of these symptoms together in one treatment!  In advanced theory, the energy points and meridians can even change positions for specific diseases and pathologies.

Another way of choosing and grouping points is based on a concept called a “microsystem,” where certain parts of the body mimic, or image, another part of the body.  For example, the whole body is imaged on the ear.  A complete treatment for all symptoms can be given by using different points just in the ear.  There also is a whole system of treatment based on imaging the entire body just on the abdomen.  Similarly, the ankle can be used to treat the wrist, or the shoulder to treat the hip.  It can become quite mind boggling!

So please, keep asking, “What’s that point for?”   It’s a great question that is always fun and interesting to answer!

Beth Ann Mills, LAc


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