Traditional Chinese medicine has divided the body into 12 major anatomical sections called meridians or channels Simply speaking, a meridian or channel refers to a grouping of certain blood vessels, nerves and muscles. Each of these meridians also includes associated acupuncture points (acupoints).
The 12 major meridians of the body are named for the organ to which they connect, and are called:
- Large Intestine
- Small Intestine
- Triple Burner
Acupuncture treatment consists of the application of a few points at specific places on the body. Thus, the selection and combination of points in an acupuncture treatment is most important. Since selection of points along the channels is guided by the theory of Zang-Fu organs and channels, it is essential for practitioners to have a full understanding of the following so as to be able to choose the correct points:
- physiology and pathology
- the course of the channels
- the Exterior-Interior relationship of Yin and Yang
- the function, and difference and characteristics of the points
Selection of points along the course of the channels is one of the basic principles of acupuncture treatment, and is performed according to the theory that disease is related to channels. In general, the selection of treatment points is based on the multiple uses and actions of various points. In practice the points are selected from the channel to which the affected organ is related; or from related channels according to the relations between the Zang-Fu organs and channels. They can be used locally to treat specific conditions, reduce inflammation in an area, etc. or distally which are often chosen based on broader acupuncture theory and by utilizing the acupuncture point categories.
There are three principles for point selection: local point selection in the vicinity of the pain, distal point selection and symptomatic point selection. Each may be used in combination, or independently of the others.
Before selecting acupuncture points for treatment you should already have established a diagnosis based on Chinese Medicine principles. The diagnosis is drawn from utilizing TCM diagnostic examinations such as the tongue and pulse among others. One of the benefits of Chinese Medicine is the inherent flexibility of the system. With this, however, comes the need to reduce many treatment options into the most effective set of points
Local point selection:
Local area points are generally used to reduce inflammation, ease pain, and to improve the circulation of Qi and Blood in a specific area. This is the selection of points in the locality of the pain—for instance, pain in the head, forehead, neck or arm can be treated by using the points in the vicinity. in the case of low back pain you may use the huatuo points to treat inflammation and pain near a herniation. This method also includes selection of adjacent points close to the pain. Adjacent points may be applied independently or in combination with the local points.
Adjacent Point Selection
Adjacent points are chosen due to their proximity to the area of injury or for the clinical significance. For example, CV 17 for disorders of the breast, lung, or throat areas.
Distal point selection
Distal points are chosen by either clinical usage, by their relationship to points you are using locally, or in relation to one of many synergistic point groupings such as extraordinary vessel master/couple pairings. For example, in the case of asthma you may use Dingchuan as a local point, and LU 7 and KD 6 which both have valid clinical usages as distal points individually.
Acupuncture Point Selection Based on Symptomology
some diseases are not local but systemic in nature, and can be treated at those points that have long been associated with relieving a particular disease. Acupuncture points are often selected simply by their clinical indications. Within this category are the empirical points that are often used within treatments regardless of the system you are using to choose points. Examples are ST 36 for Qi Deficiency, SP 1 for uterine bleeding, or ST 40 for dampness in the body, GV-14 Dazhui is used for reducing fever.
Acupuncture Point Selection Based on TCM Diagnosis
Within this group you select points based on your tcm diagnosis. For example, someone experiencing Chronic Fatigue Syndrome may have a TCM diagnosis of Yang Deficiency with Qi Stagnation. You would then choose points to build the Yang energy of the body (KD 3, KD 7, UB 23) and to resolve Qi stagnation (LI 4 and LV 3 as the “four gates” pairing used empirically to move qi within the body).
Acupuncture Point Selection Based on Meridian/Body Pairings
Within this group you can choose points as Yin/Yang pairs. For example, SP 6 and ST 36 for Blood Deficiency. You may also choose points based on hand/foot meridian relationships. Related to the hand/foot meridian relationships is the symmetry or cross-needling method.