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Heart 7, Shenmen, is probably the most used and the most important point along the Heart acupuncture channel, which runs from your armpit to the tip of your small finger.
The Heart channel, however, actually starts in the heart organ itself, deep in your chest. It sends one branch down to connect with the small intestine organ, and another branch up beside the oesophagus and over your face to the tissues round your eye.
A third branch goes to the lung and emerges in your armpit at Heart Point 1 and that's the branch on which all the Heart channel acupuncture points lie, including this one.
Acupuncturists in some traditions prefer not to treat the Heart channel, choosing instead to treat the Pericardium or one of the other Fire channels.
They argue that the Heart zangfu-organ should be treated with great respect and that when treating it one ought to concentrate instead on the other 11 zangfu-organs which, had they been in good condition, would never have made it possible for the Heart to need treatment.
I have some sympathy with this view, but I do treat the Heart channel points and they are very effective. However, I try everything else first.
There is another point with the same name, Shenmen, in the ear. It is mainly used for sedating or calming the Mind. It doesn't seem to strengthen the Heart zangfu or channel.
At the proximal end of and on the radial side of the pisiform bone at the wrist just over the ulnar artery.
The other problem when needling from the ulnar side of the arm (near the Small Intestine channel) is that to get to the point you have to point the needle slightly distally to get round the proximal corner of the pisiform bone.
In so doing you are very close to Yinxi HE-6. In fact, I suspect that when needling the point from this direction, I have often needled Yinxi instead.
Fortunately the properties of Yinxi are not greatly different from Shenmen although it’s neither the Source point nor the Shu-Stream point ... but it is the Xi-Cleft point, regulates Heart Blood and clears deficiency Heat.
Usually a heavy aching around the point, sometimes radiating up the channel towards the elbow.
Because of its action in steadying or regulating the Heart qi, this is broadly seen as a sedative point, but actually it’s neither exciting nor sedating, though more often used for the latter.
The following book:
by Shudo Denmai lists it as being good for constipation, when used with moxa, though he does not really explain why. Presumably this is because Shenmen is the Earth point on the Heart channel and because the Heart is the Mother of the Spleen, one of the two Earth meridians according to 5-Element theory.
Used with moxa, the point tonifies the mother of the Spleen, which is in charge of transforming and transporting. This makes more sense if Spleen qi is deficient than if it is full, but given that anyone with major constipation thinks they’re going to die anyhow, perhaps this use of the point is more for its mentally fortifying purposes.
The Name of the Point
We should also remember that the name of Heart 7 is Spirit Gate. 'Spirit' here refers to something different from the word when used in a religious context.
It is meant in the same way we use the word when we say someone is in good or bad spirits.
As such, it can be used to help someone cold and closed off to open up (the word 'men' means 'gate'): it can be used to help someone too open to outside influences manage themselves better.
(Another point used to help people open up is Neiguan, Pericardium 6, often used during pregnancy or where there is nausea, but really useful in other ways too.)
When people have Qi Stagnation (see my book on the subject, below) over a period of time, this point can help calm and steady them to take a more measured approach to life.
If you live in the Edinburgh area of Scotland, where the author of this site (and of the books described below) works, click on Edinburgh Acupuncturist.
If you live elsewhere, click on BAcC.
Please note! The Kindle editions are less easy to read!
I'm gradually improving this, but 'Qi Stagnation' and 'Yin Deficiency' still remain to be re-edited.
Although the paper editions cost more, they are much easier to read and to refer back and forth to the contents and index.
Here are some of the books Jonathan has written:
Still only one comment, though personally I think this is my best book so far.
Published 1986 and, amazingly, still selling. Was apparently used back then by at least one acupuncture college to help students understand Chinese medicine!
No comments yet: just published. (Despite the lurid cover, it explains the five main types of phlegm and what works best for each type. I hope it's easy to read and will be much more useful than all the websites on the subject.)
3000 years of Chinese being stressed, and at last, here's a book showing how all that experience can help you!
By the author of this website, it explains in simple English how to use stress to improve and enhance your life.
NB You can also order 'Qi Stagnation - Signs of Stress' from your bookseller.
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