The distributions of the Yuan-origin points share one feature, which is they all are located distal to the wrists in the upper extremities or to the ankles in the lower extremities. The twelve Yuan-origin points are located distal to the wrist or ankle joints. They are closely related to the Yuan-origin qi of the body and are the foundations of the Zang Fu and Jing Luo (channels and collaterals). They are the points that Yuan-origin qi flows through and lingers in. The Yuan-origin points are the places where Yuan-origin qi performs its functions. The disorders of the Zang and Fu often manifest through the twelve Yuan-origin points.
In the Ling Shu, Nine Needles and Twelve Yuan-origin Points, it says “To treat the diseases of the five Zang, the twelve Yuan-origin points shall be selected.” The statement indicates that the twelve Yuan-origin points are mainly used to treat the five Zang (organ) diseases. Through the exterior-interior relationships, they are also used to treat the six Fu (bowels) diseases. One feature of the Yuan-origin points is that they not only can tonify the deficiency but also can drain the excess, a function so called “double regulating”. Hence, the Yuan-origin points not only can be used to treat the disorders of the respectively belonged or related Zang and Fu illnesses, disorders of the limbs and body trunk, but also can treat channel disorders of their respectively belonged channels. The Yuan-origin points can treat all types of disease patterns; no matter they are deficiency, excess, cold, heat, acute, chronic, or pain types. It may be said that the Yuan-origin points are the “chief points” for the disorders of their respectively belonged channel or Zang Fu.
One meaning of the Yuan is “origin”, which indicates the original qi or the moving qi between the kidneys, the so called the fundamental qi of the life. Another meaning of Yuan is a flat stretch land. As the Yuan-origin points of the Zang organs are same as their Shu-stream points and the Yuan-origin points of the Fu bowel are proximal to the Shu-stream points, where are full of vessel qi. From the perspective of Ti Ying (body correspondence theory), those are the sites abundant with flesh, and hence the Yuan-origin points govern the qi.
The applications of the Yuan-origin points are not only broad and also with high effectiveness and quick result. In the Zhen Jiao Da Cheng (The Great Compendium of Acupuncture and Moxibustion), Zhi Zheng Zuong Yao (the Generalization of Disease Treatments), the 12 Yuan-origin points are used to a high percentage of 52% in the 151 treatment songs. Based on my personal experiences and observations, the Yuan-origin points are located at the places with abundant flesh which corresponds to the Spleen and hence can tonify the acquired foundations. As the Yuan-origin points correspond to the Yuan-qi of the San Jiao and the moving qi between the kidneys, they also tonify the constitutional foundations. That is to say the Yuan-origin points can simultaneously tonify the Spleen and Kidney, and regulate both the acquired and constitutional foundations. That is why they have very wide spectrum of indications and bear very high effectiveness. Many important points of the Tung's Acupuncture are around the Yuan-origin points. For example, Huao Zhu ((66.04) ( Taichong (LV3)), Wuanshuen Er (22.09) ( Wuan Gu (SI4)), and Linggu (22.05) (Yangxi (LI5)).