Stomach Channel (Meridian)


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The Stomach channel is one of the acupuncture channels recognised in Chinese, Japanese, Korean and other ancients systems of medicine.

It has 45 points on the surface of the body. But it has other deep pathways that show how important the Stomach energy organ is for a huge range of conditions.

Face points on the Stomach channel

The channel starts underneath each eye then descends over the cheek to the corner of the mouth.

  • From this you can understand how the stomach channel relates the Stomach to the eyes (in fact the Japanese noted that Stomach 25 was often a kind of 'alarm' point for the vision), the complexion, the sinuses, the cheeks, the mouth, the lips and the appetite. And that's only the first four points on the channel!
  • [Small extra point, re the vision. Some people find reading while they eat helps them relax, but in general Chinese medicine disapproves of this and says that reading while eating ultimately weakens or dissipates our Stomach Qi, perhaps because we are using the Stomach energy in two directions, rather than just eating, or looking. Of course, if food LOOKS good to eat, we'll be more interested in it.]
  • However, technically, the Stomach channel doesn't start at Stomach 1 Chengqi. It is said to start from the last point of the preceding channel in the great 'round' of channels, connected one to the next as they traverse the body and limbs. 
  • The preceding channel is the Large Intestine channel, the last point on which is Jingming. This lies in the naso-labial groove approximately level with the widest point of the wings of the nose.
  • So that brings in the intestines, the nose and vision (again). In fact, many headaches connected to vision have a root in the digestion. Frequent nose blockages and catarrh derive from food improperly digested, either because we rush the meal or because the food doesn't suit us.
  • [Small extra point: if the nose tells you something smells good, it will taste better and you'll be more inclined to eat it. If not, not.]
  • It also brings in sagging flesh on the face and bags under the eyes, (which also relate to the Kidneys and Lungs, for other reasons too thick on the ground to include here.)
  • It also means that how easily we generate tears or eye lubrication is partly 'ruled' by the Stomach.
  • It also, deep under the skin, traverses the upper gums round to the front of the mouth at the midpoint above the front teeth. 
  • That brings in gum disease, upper tooth problems, and is the first of a number of points that cover our ability to chew.

Below the mouth

  • The channel encircles the mouth. Having met above the mouth in the gums at Governor 26, it meets the Conception channel under the mouth at Conception Vessel 24, in the central groove in the chin.
  • That means it has a strong relationship with both the main Yang channel - the Governor channel - that runs up the spine and over the head, but also meets the equally important Yin - Conception - channel that traverses up the midline of the front of the body.
  • In a way, it joins theses two channels at the mouth. There is a form of meditation in which the mind works to move Qi up the Governor channel to the mouth and then down the Conception vessel to meet the Governor channel next to the other end of the digestive tract.
  • All sorts of consequences come from this. By calming the mind and concentrating, one can keep the Qi flowing round and round, contributing to health and vigour. (In fact, the meditation technique suggests that you place your tongue against the roof of your mouth, the palate, to connect above the mouth with below the mouth, so forming yet another bridge between the two channels, Governor and Conception).
  • It also suggests that problems with piles, with constipation, with rectal problems, inflammation, worms and much more can be treated at least in part using points along the Stomach channel, when an appropriate syndrome is indicated.
  • It also reminds you that eye inflammation, blepharitis, and other eye problems like conjunctivitis, may all have roots in our diet, nutrition and digestion.

Side of the Face

Rather than heading straight down the body, the channel goes laterally to the corner of the jaw, then upwards to the side of the forehead.

  • It runs upwards anterior to the ear, to the side of the forehead.
  • Points along this part of the channel mix with several other channels including the Small Intestine and Gallbladder, making all benefit from exercising the mandible. Chewing is good for you! Don't gulp! Chew!
  • Points here are also important for your ears. The wrong foods, or wrongly digested perhaps because gulped down, can lead to phlegm in your ears, disturbing hearing and balance.
  • At the forehead it covers areas frequently painful during headaches. As headache and migraine sufferers have long realized, what you eat makes a big difference!

Forehead

From within the lateral corner of the hairline it crosses to the centre, above the forehead, again to meet the Governor channel at Governor point 24, Shenting. (Shen, here, denotes the Spirit, which has a different meaning to that in Judaeo-Christian religions.)

This point Shenting is useful for calming the mind, for clearing the vision and for easing breathing through the nose. This indicates, again, the importance of proper food and digestion for calm, clear thinking processes, for good vision and an acute sense of smell.

In fact, this point is one of a number used for manic - very Yang - states. The fact that it lies on the Stomach channel again suggests the role diet plays in making people manic.

Neck

From the point at the angle of the jaw, the next branch goes down the side of the neck.

Three points lie on the medial side of the sternocleidomastoid muscle as the channel descend the neck to the torso.

This important muscle, which you can make stand out by turning your head hard to left or right, has Stomach points beside it that affect the throat, neck and thyroid gland.

There is a technique used by Bowen practitioners which molds and massages the sternocleidomastoid muscle. It is a powerful way to clear the sinuses and head. As with acupuncture points here the Bowen treatment also helps with difficulty turning the head.

One of these points Renying, Stomach 9, connects with the Gallbladder channel and is called a 'Window of the Sky' or 'Window of Heaven' point. These points have additional properties in promoting mental clarity and steadiness. 

The connection with the Gallbladder is notable because of the latter's importance in giving good sight and clear vision, and with taking the right decisions with courage.

Chest/Neck/Upper back area

From the top of the chest, above the collarbone (ie the clavicle), the Stomach channel goes in several directions.

An important path goes to the upper back and meets the Governor Channel at Governor 14 where it meets all the other Yang channels.

Next from the the upper chest, just above the collarbone, it descends inside the chest to the diaphragm and from there enters - at last! - the stomach and spleen organs.

This part of the Stomach channel is important because sometimes when you have chills and high fever your appetite is disturbed, you may vomit.

This point, Governor 14 is useful here. It can also help with chronic hiccups, although personally I've often found the appropriate homoeopathic remedy works faster for this.

Torso/Chest

This part of the Stomach channel has points on the surface of the body along a line parallel tothe midline of the torso, down through and just below the nipple.

Stomach 12 Quepen, is above and at the midpoint of the collarbone. It meets here all the other Yang channels save the Bladder channel and this point is very useful for treating all sorts of conditions when Yang is slightly out of control, including respiratory and some digestive conditions. It also helps with mobility of the arm.

The points down to the nipple (which in Chinese acupuncture, is what is called 'contra-indicated' to needling, a consideration lost on many body jewellery wearers, see box below) are really useful for helping to clear the chest, for example in respiratory infections, cough, chest phlegm and asthma.

Ruzhong, Stomach 17, is at the centre of the nipple. In Chinese medicine it is contraindicated for acupuncture, meaning that we never needle it. We use it as a reference point for marking out distances and finding other points.

This doesn't mean it has no use. Lots of body jewellery wearers put rings through it, for instance. People who wear rings here do so for sensual and display purposes, and for women, the nipple is definitely an erogenous zone. So perhaps acupuncturists have steered clear of it for fear of evoking the wrong reactions in their patients.

Does it have an action in Chinese medicine? Undoubtedly, but I don't know what for. Probably it helps respiration and digestion, like other nearby Stomach channel points.

Of course, you'd need to know what you were doing! And I very much doubt if it would be a good point to needle when a woman had milk in her breasts, for breast-feeding.

I would also expect practitioners of acupuncture in some parts of the world to needle it, life being what it is. But I never have.

It was one of these upper chest Stomach Channel points that first persuaded me that acupuncture worked, when at my very first treatment, it was used to help clear the tension and difficulty I felt breathing. The tension was partly from Stagnant Liver Qi, but also from Lung phlegm. Even 40 years later, I remember the immediate relief the point gave me.

Anyone suffering from asthma and difficulty catching their breath will recognise the good effects these points can have on the mind. These - and other - points help not just to clear the tension and ease the breathing but also to calm the spirit.

In effect, they help to descend Qi.

Some of these points can also be useful to promote health in the breasts and milk-flow when breast-feeding.

Upper Abdomen

After descending over the chest it continues in the upper abdomen down beside the mid-line to Stomach 25, at the level of the umbilicus.

These points have more effect on digestion but some can still be used to improve respiration. Again, they descend Qi, reducing nausea, benefiting appetite and digestion, reducing pain and hiccups, regularising bowel motions.

Some are important for helping the body to clear phlegm, and because Phlegm plays a part in disturbing the Spirit (it 'blocks the orifices of the Heart') can be used for some kinds of mania.

Lower Abdomen and Umbilical area

Level with the umbilicus is Stomach 25, which is half way to the lateral border of the rectus abdominis muscle, in the centre of the muscle itself. Click this link for a fuller description of this point, which has a number of qualities. 

It is on the junction between upper and lower abdomen and can help to balance Qi when it stagnates, for example as constipation or in hot-type (ie offensively smelling) diarrhoea. 

As mentioned above, in Japanese acupuncture soreness here also suggests the possibility of eye problems, but don't mistake this if you happen to be constipated, when the point is often tender anyway - and its soreness then has little to do with vision.

In Chinese acupuncture, the umbilicus was seen as the centre pivot, and as we know, this is where you were fed when in the womb. (Its name in Chinese medicine translates as Spirit Gateway.)

During those nine months, food entered you from your mother and went directly into your intestines. Points at this level, and partliculalry this point, can often regulate or settle intestinal problems.

Hence this point is so useful for diarrhoea, though it is vital to diagnose the correct syndrome before treating it: otherwise it may not work and you could just confuse yourself, if you are the practitioner.

Many obese people become fat from eating too much and not taking enough exercise. Sometimes they have eaten a poor diet for years.

This point isn't going to cure that, but when the diet is improved, points such as these abdominal Stomach channel points can often quickly regularize the digestion and lead to improved energy and spirits. So, in that sense, these points assist Qi. 

Lower Abdomen

In the lower abodomen Stomach channel points have a new range of properties from those above.

In Chinese medicine, the lower abdomen contains the anchor and deep resources of the body. If people are easily disturbed or upset, often this is because Qi rises up too fast or easily.

Strengthening the lower abdominal energy helps keep the Qi down, reducing outbursts and anxiety.

Of course, Stomach channel points here affect the bowels, the womb, ovaries and the bladder. They can be useful for pain from all sorts of syndromes, and for helping to improve fertility.

They also keep Blood moving properly here. If Blood stagnates, there will gradually arrive lumps that are sore to massage, with heavy, painful, clotted periods, and potentially conditions such as endometriosis and infertility.

For more about Blood Stagnation, click here.

Thighs

There are only three Stomach channel points on the thigh and they share much the same properties

They help movement and strength in the leg. So they are useful for pain, often that caused by Wind and Damp: the sort of aching-heavy sensation that arises either after heavy exercise or from exposure to cold and damp. 

Knee

Points at or just above the knee are used mainly for knee problems.

However, Stomach 34 Liangqui is a Xi-Cleft point. This point is used for acute, ie sudden, stomach problems, like pain, nausea or acid eructations, and, because the Stomach channel is one of only a few that enters the brain, for the effects of a sudden, huge fright.

Below the knee and on Leg downwards

From here on down are some of the most influential points on the Stomach channel. These 'master' points, when used appropriately, hugely enhance the action of other points, not just on the Stomach channel but on many other channels.

Put another way, these points act not just locally for pain but all over the body, head and mind. The theory behind this is overlooked by acupuncturists who have no experience or knowledge of Traditional Chinese medical theory, (greatly to their detriment).

Taking the Mind first, these points can greatly influence how we think about things, calming and steadying us. Several are particularly good for those who worry, and for the exhaustion that comes from constant cares or worries.

These cares and worries could be at work, at home or from relationships, from money troubles or political troubles. Althugh fear and fright anxieties are also treatable using these points, they are probably mostly - and better - used for over-thinking, over-worrying, no matter about what.

These points include the Five Element or 5 Phase points which can also be used from the angle of being what are called Transport points, the Source (Yuan-Source) point, the Stomach channel's Junction point and the Xi-Cleft ('emergency') points for both Small and Large Intestine zangfu.

When links appear, click on the points for more information about these fascinating and important acupuncture Stomach points.

Stomach point numbers:

  • 34 Liangqui - Xi-Cleft point
  • 36 Zusanli - He-Sea and Earth point
  • 37 Shangjuxu - Lower He-Sea point of the Large Intestine
  • 38 Tiaokou 
  • 39 Xijuxu - Lowwer He- Sea point of the Small Intestine
  • 40 Fenglong - Luo or Junction point
  • 41 Jiexi - Jing-River and Fire point
  • 42 Chongyang - Source point
  • 43 Xiangu - Shu-stream and Wood point
  • 44 Neiting - Ying-Spring and Water point
  • 45 Lidui - Jing-Well and Metal point

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