Acupuncture Resources

Acupuncture Formulas

These formulas contain many points, ideally one should keep the number of points used in any one session to a minimum. Usually, the number would be under 10. Master acupuncturists usually use less than 5 points. The ultimate aim of the Master is to cure with only 1 needle. Acupuncture point selection is based on information gathered from the four exams: looking, listening, asking and palpating.

Formulas indexed A through Z

A - C | D - F | G - I | J - N | O - S | T - Z


LU = Lung meridian
LI, CO = Large Intestine meridian
ST = Stomach meridian
SP = Spleen meridian
HT, HE = Heart meridian
SI = Smalll Intestine meridian
Bl, UB = Bladder meridian
KI = Kidney meridian
P, PC, HC = Pericardium, Heart Constrictor meridian
TW, TH, SJ = Triple Warmer, Tri-Heater, Triple Burner, San Jiao meridian
GB = Gallbladder meridian
LV, LI, LIV = Liver meridian
CV, VC, Ren = Conception Vessel meridian
GV, VG, Du = Governing Vessel meridian

Some older text use LI for Liver and CO for Large Intestine.

These formulas contain many points, ideally one should keep the number of points used in any one session to a minimum. Usually, the number would be under 10. Master acupuncturists usually use less than 5 points. The ultimate aim of the Master is to cure with only 1 needle. Acupuncture point selection is based on information gathered from the four exams: looking, listening, asking and palpating.

Pathology is categorized according to its location and quality. The location can be described according to channel, organ, level, jiao, element of the five phases, or substances (Qi, Blood, Phlegm, Fluid, Food) and whether its nature is fixed or changing in terms of location. Qualities are recognized as wind, heat, cold, damp, dry, full or empty, waxing or waning, yin or yang. Location and quality continually shift. Rather than securing oneself to a firm diagnosis the clinical encounter becomes a circular interactive loop where the next move is guided by the changing terrain. Evaluation becomes treatment and treatment becomes evaluation. Because we are able to understand a phenomenon only by changing it, then more important than the diagnosis itself, is where it yields, and becomes something else. An adept practitioner has a sense of the direction of a disorder by the change in tongue, pulse, stool, urine, menses, sleep, mucous, thirst, sweat, sensation or pain, and even by changes in emotion on the part of patient. Acupuncture point prescriptions are continually modified to fit the changing patient presentation. Shaped by Daoist and Buddhist philosophy, Chinese acupuncture relies on the only constant is change.

There is no hard and fast rule as to the choice of points. Various combinations are possible but all combinations use the Sensitive (AhShi, Trigger etc) Points, when these are present. Examples would be:


Sensitive Points (if present) + Mu + Shu points + points for symptoms

(or) Sensitive points + Yuan + Luo + Xi + points for symptoms

(or) Sensitive points + Earpoints

(or) Sensitive points + Local points + Distant points on the affected Channel

(or) many other combinations.

LOCAL DISORDERS (say elbow pain):

Sensitive points (if present) + Local points + Distant points on affected and related Channels

(or) Sensitive Points + Earpoints for Elbow + Earpoint ShenMen

(or) Sensitive Points + Tsing points + Local points + Distant points on affected and related Channels

(or) other combinations.

Distal Points
Acupuncture points are not always chosen locally to treat a problem. Often distal points are chosen. These points are generally located quite far from the diseased area (often below the elbows and knees) , but are chosen for their ability to treat the problem.

Local Points
There are two kinds of local acupuncture points: classical acupuncture points which are located close to the area of pain, and, points of sensitivity (not actual points) which are referred to Ashi points which may also be chosen due to their responsive nature.

Experience Points
These acupuncture points may consist of one or a combination of two or more points which have been proven over time to be very effective in the treatment of a particular disorder. The clinical basis for these treatment protocols are based purely on experience.

Interior- Exterior
The twelve regular meridians are paired together into six groups. One of each pair represents the interior aspect of the relationship while the other represents the exterior of the relationship. For example the Spleen and stomach are one pair. The stomach represents the exterior aspect of the couple and the spleen the interior. If there is a problem with the stomach points may be chosen on the spleen channel to effect its partner.

Front and Back:
Often points are chosen from both the front of the body and the back of the body in order to elicit balance in the acupuncture treatment. A good example of this would be the combination of a Front (Mu) point and a Back (Shu) point in the treatment of a disorder.

Upper and the Lower:
Disease in the upper part of the body can be treated by selecting points in the lower part of the body, and disease in the lower part of the body can be treated by selecting points in the upper part of the body. The combination of GV 1 with GV 20 in the upper to treat prolapse of anus is one example of this type of point location.

Left and Right:
Acupuncture points in the right side of the body may be selected for diseases in the left side of the body and vice versa. This type of treatment may be implemented for the purpose of balancing the energy in a meridian on different sides of the body OR in the case of head acupuncture, one side of the head may be treated to effect the opposite side of the body.

Acupuncture — Treatment Approaches  
Traditional Chinese medicine, including acupuncture, is practiced in every hospital in China, servicing one quarter to one third of the world population. Outside of China, every country and culture using acupuncture has adapted it to unique health needs. Thus there are many approaches that have evolved out of the original 365 ‘known´ points, and five-phase system of correspondences. The following is not an exhaustive list but intended to familiarize the reader with some of these more common treatment approaches. In addition, there are treatment techniques used in acupuncture practice that are culturally and historically related to it.

System of Five Phase Correspondence
This is the well known system that relates organs in coupled pairs to elements of Wood, Fire, Earth, Metal and Water, to seasons of Spring, Summer, Late Summer, Fall and Winter, to climates of Wind, Heat, Dampness, Dryness, and Cold respectively. In addition each element has a related flavor, sound, color, grain, meat, emotion or disposition, pulse location and pattern of imbalance. Depending on the pattern of imbalance a treatment is fashioned that includes selection of points, combination of herbs, and recommendations of food, exercise, behavior and attitude change. The 365 original or common acupuncture points located on the twelve major channels throughout the body are historically connected in the Five Phase System of Correspondence. The Five-Phase System is a functioning blueprint connecting the movement of life force in the body with its environment, history, and destiny, and is probably the original ecologically holistic method. Variations in approaches often use some aspects of the system of correspondence.

Zang Fu Patterns of Disharmony
Zang Fu patterns of disharmony are recognized archetypal pathologies. The Zang Fu (meaning solid/hollow, or internal/external) are organs though not anatomical masses as one would think of Western organs. While they have location as part of their nature, the zang fu are functional activities and relationships of the body. Acupuncture points are selected based on these named patterns and are needled with the intention to harmonize, tonify, disperse, or sedate depending on the nature of the pattern. When the Spleen is deficient, with accumulation of Dampness, points would be chosen that resolve damp and tonify the Spleen. In addition, the technique of needling might augment the desired effect. Herbal medicine prescribing is often based on Zang Fu patterns of disharmony and is the main practice sanctioned by the Peoples Republic of China, referred to as Traditional Chinese Medicine, or TCM.

Japanese Acupuncture and Hara Diagnosis
Japanese acupuncture differs from Chinese acupuncture in that it involves a more sophisticated practice of touch and palpation, along with lighter and shallower techniques of needling. In particular, Hara palpation was advanced in Japan. The Hara, or abdomen, is palpated revealing particular patterns of constriction or flaccidity. Release or balance is discoverable by palpation of points distal to the abdomen. Needling these distal points, along with local points, releases deep patterns of tension facilitating the healing of internal organ illness and disease.

Auricular Acupuncture
Auricular acupuncture is a Western development with its foundation in Chinese medicine. The ear was discovered to be a homunculus (small person), that is, points in the ear are associated with parts of the body that when charted actually looks like an inverted fetus. Needles can be placed in the ear alone to achieve a therapeutic effect anywhere in the body, or can be used in conjunction with other body acupuncture points.

Conditions affecting the body can be detected through the ear by visual or manual examination – evidence of irritation such as skin discoloration and tenderness can pinpoint the root location of a condition. Ear acupuncture is an effective and popular technique for addictive illness and withdrawal from addictive substances. There are many treatment clinics in the US that use ear acupuncture as a form of drug free withdrawal therapy.

Electro Acupuncture
Acupuncture points have demonstrated increased electrical conductivity and decreased electrical resistance. Needling, or even touching known points, produces a small electrical effect known as piezo, within the body´s connective tissue. Some practitioners seek to augment the strength of needling by applying a weak current of electricity to the needles. The strength of the electric current varies depending on the desired result of the procedure. This method is used, along with moderate doses of pain medication, as a form of anesthesia for surgery.

Korean Hand Acupuncture
Acupuncture practice in Korea has been influenced by its unique history and culture. Korean hand acupuncture is one technique that has become well known in the West. The hand, like the scalp and ear, represents a condensed version of the body. The areas on the hand that correspond to a disturbed part of the body will be exquisitely tender, or be a different color than the surrounding hand tissue. Very small needles are inserted directly into these areas and retained from 10 minutes to hours, depending on the condition and the patient. These areas also respond to touch and other forms of stimulation, like body acupuncture points.

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