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The Body Points with Special Therapeutic Effects

In traditional Chinese medicine, the meridian system provides the transportation channel for the fundamental substances of qi, blood, and body fluids. The flow of qi in the meridian system concentrates or "injects" in certain areas of the skin's surface. These areas, located externally and superficially are very small, and are known as "acupoints". There are a total of 361 acupoints along the fourteen main meridians, each point belongs to a particular meridian and connects to a corresponding organ. In addition, there are also plenty of a-shi points and extraordinary points that do not belong to any of the meridians but have special therapeutic effects for some diseases. When using acupuncture and moxibustion in clinical treatment, it is essential to know about the locations, corresponding meridians and indications of the acupoints.

Along the fourteen main meridians, some acupoints have definite relationships with the internal organs that make them exert particular therapeutic properties. As these points have different distributions and effects, ancient acupuncturists summarized their common properties, which are considered essential when using acupuncture and moxibustion for treatment.

Groups of five transport points | Source points & connecting points |
Back transport points & alarm points | Eight influential points | Cleft points |
Lower sea points | Eight confluent points of the extra meridians | Crossing points

The Groups of Five Transport Points

The Five Transport Points refer to the five specific points: well, spring, stream, river and sea. Each of the twelve regular meridians has a group of these points, and the sixty points are located distal to the elbow and knee joints. Ancient people gave the names for the points because they viewed the meridian qi flow in analogy as water flow of the nature, a way of illustrating the phenomenon of qi flow inside the meridians. These points are important for the meridians to communicate between inner and outer sides of the body, and stimulating them can effectively activate the qi inside the meridians and regulate the corresponding organs. They are often used in diseases of the internal organs or head region.

Well point: denotes the source of meridian qi, which has the function of communicating the blood and qi as well as yin and yang elements of the body. These points are usually used in emergencies and in resuscitation. They are also used for alleviating pain and inflammation.
Spring point: refers to a small flow, which can be used to lower temperature.
Stream point: refers to the qi flowing from shallow to deeper region; the qi flow becomes more abundant inside the meridian. The points can be used to relieve painful joints and general heaviness due to dampness accumulation.
River point: refers to the place where meridian qi flows smoothly. The points are for diseases caused by exogenous pathogens, or for conditions like cough and asthma.
Sea point: refers to the place where there is confluence of meridian qi and where it begins to infuse into the organs. The acupoints are mostly for disorders of the six yang organs when there is abnormal qi flow inside them and when symptoms include vomiting, diarrhea, dizziness or a heavy sensation in the head.

Table of the Five Transport Points on the 12 Regular Meridians

Six Yin Meridians Well Points
Spring Points
Stream Points
River Points
Sea Points
Lung Meridian (LU) shao shang
yu ji
tai yuan
jing qu
(Lu 8)
chi ze
Kidney Meridian (KI) yong quan
ran gu
(Ki 2)
tai xi
(Ki 3)
fu liu
(Ki 7)
yin gu
Liver Meridian (LR) da dun
(Lr 1)
xing jian
(Lr 2)
tai chong
zhong feng
(Lr 4)
qu quan
(Lr 8)
Heart Meridian (HT) shao chong
(Ht 9)
shao fu
(Ht 8)
shen men
(Ht 7)
ling dao
(Ht 4)
shao hai
(Ht 3)
Spleen Meridian
yin bai
(Sp 1)
da du
(Sp 2)
tai bai
(Sp 3)
shang qiu
(Sp 5)
yin ling quan
(Sp 9)
Pericardium Meridian (PC) zhong chong
(Pc 9)
lao gong
(Pc 8)
da ling
(Pc 7)
jian shi
(Pc 5)
qu ze
(Pc 3)

Six Yang Meridians Well Points
Spring Points
Stream Points
River Points
Sea Points
Large Intestine Meridian (LI) shang yang
(Li 1)
er jian
(Li 2)
san jian
(Li 3)
yang xi
(Li 5)
qu chi
(Li 11)
Bladder Meridian (BL) zhi yin
(Bl 67)
zu tong gu
(Bl 66)
shu gu
(Bl 65)
kun lun
(Bl 60)
wei zhong
(Bl 40)
Gallbladder Meridian (GB) zu qiao yin
(Gb 44)
xia xi
(Gb 43)
zu lin qi
(Gb 41)
yang fu
(Gb 38)
yang ling quan
(Gb 34)
Small Intestine Meridian (SI) shao ze
(Si 1)
qian gu
(Si 2)
hou xi
(Si 3)
yang gu
(Si 5)
xiao hai
(Si 8)
Stomach Meridian (ST) li dui
(St 45)
nei ting
(St 44)
xian gu
(St 43)
jie xi
(St 41)
zu san li
(St 36)
Triple Burner Meridian (SJ) guan chong
(Sj 1)
ye men
(Sj 2)
zhong zhu
(Sj 3)
zhi gou
(Sj 6)
tian jing
(Sj 10)

Practically, acupuncturists also like to integrate the five elements theory when selecting the above points, which can achieve special reinforcing or reducing effects on the meridians.

The Groups of Five Transport Points