8: What is the theory and the specific usage of the needling method based on the mutual communication of the hand foot same name channels?

The point selection method of the same name channels is also called the needling method based on the mutual communication of the six channels. It is developed from the point selection method of channel connection, and is a type of channel therapy. The so called mutual communication of the six channels is hand Taiyin communicates with foot Taiyin; hand Yangming communicates with foot Yangming; hand Taiyang communicates with foot Taiyang; hand Jueyin communicates with foot Jueyin, hand Shaoyang communicates with foot Shaoyang.

The point selection method based on “hand foot same name channels” is related to “Open-Pivot-Close” too. Both hand and foot Taiyang govern Open and have unified movement rhythm and similar nature; both hand and foot Shaoyang govern Pivot and have unified movement rhythm and similar nature too. Hand and foot same name channels have the unified movement rhythm and similar nature; hence their functions are interchangeable and this is called “mutual communication of the same name channels”.

There are communicating pathways between the “mutual communications of the same name channels.” For example hand and foot Taiyin channels are connected at Zhongfu (LU1) point; hand and foot Yangming channels at Yingxiang (LI20) point; hand and foot Shaoyin channels in the heart; hand and foot Taiyang channels at Qingming (UB1); hand and foot Jueyin channels at Tienchi (PC1); hand and foot Shaoyang channels at Tungziliao (GB1).

The application of the “mutual communication of same name channels” is written in details in my writings of Zhen Jiao Bao Dien (Treasures on Acupuncture) and Lectures on Tung’s Acupuncture: Therapeutic System. Here I would only give a brief summary. The methods are as follows.

1. Mutual treatment of the same name channels: Usually the point of the opposite side channel is selected. This method is more suitable for four extremity disorder. The upper left side treats the lower right side; upper right side treats the lower left side; lower left side treat upper right side; lower right side treat upper left side. For example, when the disease site is at the Jing-well point Shaoshang (LU1) of hand Taiyin channel, the Jing-well point of foot Taiyin channel Yinbai (SP1) is needled. If the disease is at Shaofu (HT8), the Ying-sping point of hand Shaoyin channel, Rangu (KD2), the Ying-spring point of foot Shaoyin channel is needled. The rest channel may be deduced by analogy. This method does not rigidly adhere to acupuncture points. For example, pain on the site of Chengshan (UB58) can be treated by needling the middle point of the opposite forearm on the hand Taiyang channel. Although there is no acupuncture point on that specific location, the disorder can still be treated. This method is mostly used for treating four extremity disorders, but can still be used for disorder on the body trunk. For example, to treat the pain on the area of Shufu (KD27), moxibustion on Shaohai (HT3) and Shenmen (HT8) will resolve the pain instantly.

2. Combination of the Hand and foot same name channels: the combination method is often seen on the ancient odes. Let’s take several examples from “Ode of One Hundred Symptoms”. For example, “deafness due to qi obstruction relies on Tinghui (GB2) and Yifeng (SJ17).” Tinghui (GB2) is on gall bladder channel; and Yifeng (SJ17) on San Jiao channel. This is an example of point combination of hand and foot same name (Shaoyang) channels. Another example, “weary speech and somnolence are indicated in Tongli (HT5) and Dazhong (KD4).” Tongli (HT5) is a point of heart channel; and Dazhong (KD4) of kidney channel. This is an example of point combination of hand and foot same name (Shaoyin) channels. Also, “excrescence creeping over the eye, Ganshu (UB18) and Shaoze (SI1) are the points to attack.” Ganshu (UB18) is on the urinary bladder channel; Shaoze (SI1) on small intestine channel. This is an example of hand foot same name (Taiyang) channels. Besides, on Ode of Xi Hong: “heat disease but no sweat, Dadu (SP2) connects with Jingqu (LU8).” This is an example of hand and foot same name (Taiyin) channels. “Hand and foot/upper and lower Sanli (LI10 and ST36), food and qi stagnation should select them.” This is an example of point combination of hand and foot same name (Yangming) channels. Houxi (SI3), a point of hand Taiyang, and Shugu (UB65), a point of foot Taiyang, are good for neck pain and lumbar pain. The ancient and contemporary examples are so numerous and can not be listed one by one. Point combination of both hand and foot same name channels is a very practical method.

3. Mutual replacement of points of hand and foot same name channels: Points on the holographically corresponding locations have similar functions and can be replaced by the other. For example, Gongsun (SP4) can treat deficient cold of the spleen and stomach and indigestion. The holographically corresponding point Yuji (LU10) can be used to treat deficient cold of the spleen and stomach and indigestion, too. Zulinqi (GB41) can treat the ache circulated the waist. The holographically corresponding point Zhongzhu (SJ3) can be used for the same purpose. Xuanzhong (GB39) can treat Louzhen (neck sprained). The holographically corresponding point Waiguan (SJ5) can treat sprained neck too. Shugu (UB65), a point of foot Taiyang channel, can treat neck and lumbar pain. The holographically corresponding point Houxi (SI3), a point of hand Taiyang channel, can treat the same problem. Zhiyin (UB67) can correct abnormal fetal position, a gynecological disorder. Shaoze (SI1) also can treat gynecological disorder such as insufficient lactation.

7: Why He-sea points treat zang fu organ diseases? In Tung’s extraordinary points, how are those points that can treat zang fu organ diseases related to He-sea points?

In Lingshu, chapter 19 Si Shi Qi (Needling methods according to the four seasons): “if the pathogen (disease) is in the fu organs, select the He-sea points.” In Suwen, chapter 38 Ke Lun (On cough): “to treat the cough of the zang organs, needle the Shu-stream points; to treat the cough of the fu organs, needle the He-sea points.” Those statements indicate that the diseases of the six fu organs can be treated by He-sea points. In Lingshu, chapter 4 Xie Qi Zang Fu Binjg Xing (The visceral diseases caused by evil qi): “…..how to treat the diseases of the internal fu organs? Qibo said: the He-sea points should be selected.” “Ying-spring and Shu-stream points treat the external channels; He-sea points treat internal fu organs.”

The distribution of the five-shu points defines the point’s treatment scope which also relates to the point’s space and time natures. The general idea of the above quotes is that Ying-sping and Shu-stream points are more suitable for treating body surface and channel disorders of the respective channel. He-sea points are more suitable for treating internal body disorders of the six Fu organs. Ying-spring and Shu-stream points are located at distal extremities where the channel qi is shallow and near the surface. Hence, they are good at treating body surface (including external channel) disorders and five-sense organ disorders of the respective channel. He-sea points are located closer to the body trunk than Ying-spring and Shu-stream points. They are located around elbow and knee joints where the channel qi gathers together as one hundred rivers meet before pouring into the sea. The surrounding of the He-sea points is thick muscle and tendons, and hence the channel qi is deep and abundant. It is easier for those points to have needle sensations (gain the qi). As the channel qi of those points are more abundant and travel deeper to the zang fu organs, they are good at treating zang fu organ disorders. He-sea points are also good at treating prolonged or chronic diseases as the saying in Chinese medicine “prolonged diseases enter the fu organ.” He-sea points are good at treating prolonged or chronic zang fu disorders. Ying-spring and Shu-stream points are good at treating external contracted, newly developed, intermittent aggravation and amelioration, or half-deep/half shallow disorders. Those point selection principles guide the clinical practice.

The so-called “He-sea points treat fu organ disorders” includes non-spiritual/will disorders. (“When the disease is at the Zang (viscera), select the jing-well point.” Jing-well points treat spiritual and will/emotional or mental (Shen Zhi) disorders. ) He-sea points of yin channels belong to water and dominate pre-natal source qi and kidney qi. They can supplement the deficiency of kidney water. He-sea points of yang channel belong to earth and dominate middle qi or spleen qi. They can supplement the deficiency of spleen and stomach.

Because He-sea points are located around elbow and knee joints where the muscle and tendon tissues are thick, and comprise more channel or vessel qi; besides, they are closer to the body trunk than Ying-spring and Shu-stream points, they are good at treating zang fu disorders. Hence, several point groups of the Tung’s extraordinary points are specialized in treating zang fu organ diseases, such as Sima three points (88.17, 88.18, 88.19) treat lung; Tungguan Tungshan Tungtien (88.01, 88.02, 88.03) treat heart; Tungshen Tongwei Tongbei (88.10, 88.11, 88.12); Tienhuang Minghuang Qihuang (88.13, 88.12, 88.14) treat liver. They all are located on the thigh, superior to the He-sea points. As those locations are with abundant muscles, the channel qi is deeper and it is easier for those points to gain the qi. Besides, they are located closer to the body trunk and hence are good at treating zang fu diseases.

Also, the twelve divergent channels depart at elbow and knee areas (here they communicate with the five-shu points) and continue to travel toward to the heart. This is another reason those point groups of treating major zang fu organ disorders in Tung’s points are allocated on the thighs, superior to the elbows and knees. The “depart, enter, leave, reunite” of the 12 divergent channels complement the circulation inadequacy of the twelve regular channels. For example, foot Shaoyang gall bladder channel does not travel to the heart, but because its divergent channel pass through the heart, the evidence of the extraordinary connections of heart and gall bladder is further proved. The major points for treating spleen and stomach zang fu diseases Xiasanhuang (lower three emperors) three points are located on the calf, because the lower He-sea points of stomach, large intestine and small intestine are on the calf too. The three point groups for treating lung, heart, and kidney diseases are located between the stomach and spleen channels. This also shows that in Tung’s acupuncture, the theory of the spleen and stomach is emphasized.

6: Why do Jing-well points of Yang channels begin with phase/element metal; Yin channels with phase/element wood?

The sequences of the Five Phases of the five transport points on yang channels and yin channels are different and are greatly related to clinical applications, hence one must memories them well. In the Classic of Difficulties, the 64th Difficulty: “The yin Jing-wells are wood; the yang Jing-wells are metal; the yin Ying-springs are fire; the yang Ying-springs are water; the yin Shu-streams are earth; the yang Shu-streams are wood; yin Jing-rivers are metal; yang Jing-rivers are fire; the yin He-seas are water; the yang He-seas are earth.” That is to say the Five-Phase sequence on the yin channels is Jing-well wood, Ying-spring fire, Shu-stream earth, Jing-river metal, He-sea water; on the yang channels Jing-well metal, Ying-spring water, Shu-stream wood, Jing-river fire, and He-sea earth.
But why do yin Jing-well points start with wood and yang Jing-well points with metal? There are many articles related to this question, but they seem not grasping the essential points. According to my researches, I believe that is decided by the attributes (nature) of the Five Phases. Metal and water belong to yin for they are sinking, heavy and down bearing; wood and fire belong to yang for they are floating, light, and up bearing. Hence the nature (qi and quality) of the Five Phases decide the channel directions of going upward or downward; as well as the five-phases of the Five-Shu points of yin and yang channels.

The locations of Zang Fu may further explain the channel directions. The area above diaphragm is Yang. Lung and Heart both locate above diaphragm and hence their channel pathways travel above, along the hands/arms. Their exterior-interior channels Large Intestine and Small Intestine follows them and hence travels along hands. Spleen, Liver, and Kidney all locate below the diaphragm. Their channels also travel the lower part of body, along feet/legs. Their exterior-interior channels, Stomach, Gall Bladder, and Bladder channels follows them and travel along the feet/legs.

Secondly, according to the Shi Chen (traditional 12 two-hour periods) flowing sequence of the Zang Fu channels, which starts at yin shi (3:00am~5:00am) and ends at chou shi (1:00am~3:00am), every Shi Chen corresponds to one channel or Zang Fu. Lung channel corresponds to yin shi; large intestine to mao shi; stomach to chen shi; spleen to si shi; heart to wu shi; small intestine to wei shi; urinary bladder to shen shi; kidney to you shi; pericardium to xu shi; san jiao to hai shi; gall bladder to zi shi; liver to chou shi. The qi and blood of every channel is at its peak at and waning after its Shi Chen.

Yin, wu, xu, three combine to form fire (yin-wu-xu fire 3-unity); hai, mao, wei, three combine to form wood; si, you, chou, three combine to form metal; shen, zi, chen, three combine to form water. Lung (yin), Heart (wu), and Pericardium (xu), the three hand yin channels combine to form fire; San Jiao (hai), Large Intestine (mao), Small Intestine (wei), the three hand yang channels combine to form wood. Because wood and fire are light, up bearing and floating, they belong to yang. Hence those channels travel upper part of body through hands. Spleen (si), Kidney (you), Liver (chou), the three foot yin channels combine to form metal; Urinary Bladder (shen), Dan (zi), Stomach (chen), the three foot yang channels combine to form water. Because metal and water are sinking and down bearing, which belong to yin, hence those channels travel lower part of body through feet.

The circulation of hand and foot three yin and three yang channels of TCM manifest the mutual assistance between yin rising and yang sinking, which is in correspondence with the theory of Yi (Classic of Changes). In the theory of Yi, Kun gua is earth, belongs to yin and its position is in the lower; Qien gua is heaven, belongs to yang and its position is in the upper. The earth qi rises and the heaven qi sinks, by which the earth and the heaven moves toward each other and the greatness or the peaceful and prosperous times (Tai gua) can be formed. The heaven and the earth are the macro cosmos while human body is the micro cosmos. “Yin rising and yang sinking” symbolizes the Heaven and Human Unity, the earth and the heaven in communication to form the greatness (Tai), or the upper and the lowers’ mutual assistance or interaction. Try stand with both of your hands raised up to the head and review the foot three yin channels travel from foot to chest; hand three yin channels from chest to hands, hand three yang channels from hand to head; foot three yang channels form head to foot, which manifest the spirit of yin rising and yang sinking. Because wood and fire are light, up bearing and rising, the five transport points of the uprising yin channels start from wood and fire; because metal and water heavy, sinking and down bearing, the five transport points of the down bearing yang channels start with metal and water.

Yin opposites to yang; Firmness opposites to yieldingness; Yang is firm and yin is yielding; metal is firm and wood is yielding; firmness and yieldingness mutual assistance. Yang Jing-wells are metal and yin Jing-wells are wood. According to the Five-Phase relationships, metal counter-controls wood. The yang Jing-wells are geng metal; the yin Jing-wells are yi wood. Yi and geng however is a matching (he). Just like yin and yang although opposite to each other, but mutually assist each other and constitute the “husband and wife” relationship. The rest four phases could be applied the same way: Jia Ji matching, Bing Xin matching, Ding Ren matching, Wu Kui matching. Yin and yang are self-generating, but mutually controlling. Although mutually controlling, they are mutually promoting too. The “controlling within generating” relationship implies the meaning of Cybernetics.

5: What are the functions of the Xi-cleft points?

Xi-cleft points are good at treating acute/urgent diseases as well as pain syndromes. “Xi” means “cleft”, where the channel qi gathers deeply. When channels travel and meet with circuitous or crooked parts of body, qi and blood will gather and irrigate at those cleft sites. Other than the stomach xi-cleft point which is located slightly superior to the knee, the rest of xi-cleft points are distributed inferior to the elbow or knee. Xi-cleft points are where channel qi and blood gather around and hence they are with abundant qi and blood and with strong function of regulating qi and blood. The major indication of xi-cleft point is to treat acute zang fu disorders and pains of its respective channel.

Some believe the xi-cleft points of yin channels is more for blood related disorders while the xi-cleft points of the yang channels more for pain syndromes. However, according to the experience, to treat acute pains or blood disorders of channels, xi-cleft points of either yin or yang channels work well. For example, the xi-cleft point of lung channel, Kuongzhui (LU6) is quite effective for asthma (even more effective if combined with Chize (LU5) or Yuji (LU10)); hemoptysis; bronchiectasis; lung tuberculosis (paired with Yinxi (HT6). Ximen (PC4) is effective for fright palpitation, unpeaceful spirit (paired with Shenmen (HT7)), angina, premature beat (combined with Xinshu (UB15), Tanzhong (Ren15)). In a word, xi-cleft points are mostly used to treat acute syndromes and pains caused by sudden stagnation or imbalance of the channel qi. The disorders are usually excessive syndromes.

Dishi point (33.14) in Tung’s extraordinary point is located very close to the xi-cleft point of lung channel, Kuongzhui (LU6) and is very effective for acute disorders of lung such as common cold and asthma. Jiexue point (88.28) is located very close to Liangqiu (ST34), the xi-cleft point of stomach channel which is with abundant qi and blood, and hence is particularly good at regulating qi and blood to treat disturbance of qi and blood and fainting caused by acupuncture.

Besides, many researches and experiences conclude that xi-cleft points are diagnostic. Xi-cleft points distinctly manifest acute disorders and hence are valuable in diagnosis. They also help diagnose disorders caused by irregularities of qi and blood of certain zang or fu. For example, in stomach spasm and acute mastitis, Liangqiu (ST34) will be tender when pressed. Hence, tender on Liangqiu (ST34) assist in the diagnosis of stomach disorders. Also, tender sensation at Kuongzhui (LU6) when it is pressed assist in the diagnosis of pneumonia and hemorrhoid. Tender Waiqiu (GB36), the xi-cleft point of gall bladder channel, assists the diagnosis of gall bladder duct infection. Wenliu (LI6), xi-cleft point of the large intestine, if tender when pressed, often reflects digestive tract perforation.

4: Why Linggu (22.05) and Dabai (22.04) are super effective points for sciatica? What are the reasons if they are not effective or the effectiveness duration is short?

There is one valuable and important tip in point selection and that is the “concentration”. When select points from different channels, one must pay attention to the restraining or attacking relations between or among channels. Sciatica usually involves with three channels: lateral (Shao Yang wood), posterior (Tai Yang water), and anterior (Yang Ming earth). If all three channels are needled at the same time, restraining between channels will occur: wood restrains earth; and earth restrains water. The result is far less effective than only needle on Bladder channel or Gall Bladder channel. Since the Daoma of Linggu and Dabai only apply one channel, the result is concentrated and strong.

Linggu and Dabai are located on the lateral side of the second metacarpal bone. From the perspective of holographic theory, Linggu corresponds to lower jiao and lumbar and legs in the upright direction of the second metacarpal bone to the whole body; Dabai corresponds to lower jiao and lumbar and leg in the reversed direction. Both points can treat lumbar and legs (including sciatica). When they are used together to treat lower jiao, lumbar and leg, the effectiveness is certainly strong.

From the perspective of the hand-trunk correspondence, fingers correspond to the genital area, palm corresponds to hip area and lower back and hence points of this area treat sciatica. Besides, from the perspective of hand-foot reversed correspondence, hand also corresponds to the hip area and hence treats sciatica. Both correspondences indicate the treatment of sciatica. Hence, Linggu and Dabai, the two points on hand, treat sciatica with superb effectiveness.

Both of the insertions of Linggu and Dabai are along and close to the bone. The technique matches the saying in Lingshu, chapter 7 Guanzhen: ““The so-called Duan Ci is to treat bone bi-syndrome. After the insertion, wave the needle slightly to advance the needle and cause the tip of the needle to approach the bone; and apply lifting and thrusting method to rub the bone.” This is similar to the “using bone to treat bone” technique in the Ti Ying (body correspondence) needling methods. The insertion is effective in treating bone pain including sciatica.

From the perspective of the “using body (tissues) to treat (disease) images” in the Ti Ying needling methods: through the extraordinary connection of the large intestine channel and liver channel (belongs to wood), large intestine also corresponds to wood and treat tendon diseases; the element of Dabai point is also wood and hence treats tendon related diseases. Since both points are close to the bone; and as “using bone to treat bone”, both points treat tendon and bone (wood and water) simultaneously. The sciatica is usually related to water (bladder channel) and wood (gall bladder channel). Or it belongs to the liver channel if the pain is at groin, both points can still treat it through the extraordinary connection of the large intestine and liver. If the pain falls in the yangming channel, through the communications of the same name hand and foot channels, these two points also can treat.

As far as the question of why the result is not good, it is mostly caused by improper technique. The needling depth plays an essential role in the treatment: shallow depth or heaven division treats local diseases or diseases close to the needling point; medium depth or human division treats diseases located farther to the needling point; and deep depth or earth division treats diseases even farther. Using points located in the upper body to treat the diseases located in the lower, it is necessary to needle deep enough to gain effect. (Also see the previous discussion questions for more details.) Linggu and Dabai both points must be needled to the earth division (average 1.5 cun to 2.0 above) to gain good result. If the needling depth is not deep enough, the result is certainly not good. Besides, if the Dongqi (activating qi) technique (asking the patient to exercise the disorder site) is not incorporated, the result is even less effective. If the needling depth is not deep enough, the righteous qi can not be regulated. It is said that the local, shallow or heaven division needling is to drain the pathogens residing in yang division/layer; medium or human division needling is to drain the pathogens residing in yin division; and earth division needling is to strengthen the grain qi or righteous qi. The sciatica pain mostly is chronic, prolonged and cold nature. To gain a lasting effect, the needle must reach to the earth division and long retained to strengthen the grain qi and righteous qi. If the needling depth is not deep enough or the needle retention is not long enough, the treatment effect is neither prominent nor lasting.