Acupuncture Body Points & Categories

Acupuncture body points on the body

Acupuncture body points on the torso include the

  • Alarm points
  • Back-shu points
  • Most points on the Conception and Governing channels
  • Points which affect the upper, middle and lower parts of the torso (called the three ‘burning’ spaces’, being the chest cavity and the two volumes of the abdomen, i.e. above and below the level of the umbilicus).

Yin and Yang factors in the Channels

They also include the start or end of each of the Yin channels.

The start of the following Yin channels which extend from the torso along the arms and finish on the fingers:


The end of the following Yin channels which travel from the feet up the legs to the torso:

  • Kidney
  • Liver
  • Spleen


By the way!

The Yang channels traverse the body but neither begin nor end on it.

Some start on the hands and finish on the headSome start on the head and finish on the feet.

From this you’ll realise that Yang channels travel downwards from hands to head and head to feet. Yin channels go upwards, from feet to body and body to hands.

So the channels take Yang energy downwards from above, and the Yin channels raise Yin energy upwards from below. That way, the Yin and Yang energies balance one another. 

Click here for more on Yin and Yang.

All the channels either traverse or start or finish on the body, the torso. 

  • From the torso they derive their ‘motor’ energy (from the internal organs, eg stomach, heart, lungs etc) but …
  • To the torso they bring yin and yang balance.
Power station bird eye view photography of lighted building
Photo by American Public Power Association

So the torso is the powerhouse, balancing, giving and receiving.

If you’re more interested in acupuncture points
on the arms and legs, click here.

Acupuncture body points lie over the main power-house of your body, where you keep your heart, lungs, liver, kidneys and so on.

Your heart and lungs are protected by your ribs, but your stomach and intestines, kidney, liver, spleen and gallbladder are kept safe only by the mesh of muscular tissue and fat that surrounds them.

Is it Dangerous to treat these Body Points?

Well, of course, it can be, unless you know what you are doing.

A needle inserted too deeply into a number of places can cause damage directly to an underlying organ, for example to your lungs, heart or bladder.

However, every acupuncturist licensed by reputable organisations such as the British Acupuncture Council will have received very careful training and clinical mentoring on what to do and how to avoid trouble. The consultation should set your mind to rest.

Training, practical clinical training under supervision, is absolutely necessary for acupuncturists these days.

Research done a few years showed that it was either medical professionals or others who thought they knew what they were doing but lacked basic training who caused problems.

So if you are seeing an experienced or properly trained acupuncturist, treatment with acupuncture body points is safe.

I have been using acupuncture body points and other acupuncture points for over 35 years and have treated many, many thousands of patients: not one has ever had a problem with this, nor indeed with an infected needle, another concern these days.

So, if it’s safe, what else?

Never try to persuade your acupuncturist to treat you through your clothes! For hygiene and safety you need to disrobe to a certain extent, or at least you should bare where the needles are to go.

Bring A Pal!

If you have concerns, bring a friend or someone as a pal. However, bear in mind that you may not want to talk about certain matters with your friend listening. Your friend comes to support you, not to listen to your innermost concerns.

Your Acupuncturist might not use these important body points at first treatment!

Unless you are in considerable pain or have major lung, heart, back or abdominal discomfort, your acupuncturist may prefer not to treat you on your acupuncture body points during your first treatment session.

Why? Partly this is so that you and your acupuncturist have time to get acquainted. It also allows you to experience acupuncture on your arms and legs, where needle sensation may be less strong – although not necessarily so.

Consultation and Physical Examination

Acupuncturist taking the case
Acupuncture consultation

However, your acupuncturist will want to examine any painful areas on your body before deciding on treatment. So at the initial consultation you may need to disrobe anyway, depending on where you have pain.

Even if you don’t have pain on your body, your acupuncturist may wish to palpate – for example your abdomen – to assess your energy there and to see whether you have any reaction at what are called your ‘alarm’ points.

He may also explore how you react or feel as he presses various other areas on your abdomen. Then he might see if, by pressing other points, say on your limbs, your reaction changes.

For example, a tight area might begin to feel much looser and more relaxed after he presses a point near your ankle. If he inserted a needle at your ankle it might make you feel generally much more relaxed. It might also make you have a better reaction to other points he used.

Alarm Points

Alarm points need not alarm you! If sore when pressed, they merely indicate a possible imbalance in your energy, mainly of your internal organs.

For example, if your lung alarm point is tender, it may suggest that your lungs are under strain. Perhaps you’ve had a cold, or been sitting with poor posture? Or perhaps you have asthma or another lung problem? Or did your parents smoke a lot? Any of these might cause your Lung ‘alarm’ point to be sore or tight.

That’s useful information for your acupuncturist. Knowing this helps him or her design a better treatment for you.

Even so, she might not actually wish to insert an acupuncture needle into the Alarm point, preferring perhaps to check it again after treating you with points in other places.

If the point is then less tender or has lost its tenderness, it will suggest that treatment was effective.


Lung -1 - Lung alarm point

If you know where to look, and you have a cold or bronchial problem, for example, your Lung Alarm point will probably already be sore.

In fact, if you are ill, you might be surprised how many points your acupuncturist expects to be sore!


Foot Reflexology uses this idea – but you have many other reflex areas as well. These include reflex areas in or on your –

  • ears
  • feet
  • legs
  • arms and hands
  • forehead
  • nose …


All of these contain a microcosm that reflects your overall energy picture.


Depth and Direction of Acupuncture Body Points

Depth of Acupuncture Needle

When learning acupuncture, every acupuncturist learns the safe depth when inserting needles into points in the torso. These are also listed in all the good textbooks.

But, you ask, don’t the depths differ depending on the body type, musculature and level of fat – not to beat about the bush!

Of course! With very thin people the acupuncture body point depths will be less than with those otherwise endowed.

For very fat people, it may be difficult to find the point: it’s too deep and longer needles will be needed. (Don’t worry! Acupuncturists usually possess needles in a range of lengths.)

For the old or frail or very young, there are particular considerations: not only must the depth be carefully considered but also how strongly the acupuncture body points are stimulated.

Needling an acupuncture body point on the back
Placing an acupuncture needle

Direction of Acupuncture Needle

Depending on where the acupuncture body point is, the needle may or may not be inserted vertically.

In the acupuncture body points lying between the ribs, for example, needles are not usually inserted vertically but at a slant, and even then only slowly and carefully, especially in thin people.

These points between the ribs can be very powerful, however: they help ‘Qi’ flow through your body more freely. Freely flowing Qi is really important for acupuncturists – and for you.

What kinds of point lie on the body?

The main categories are these:


Click on each above to see more on them and find out what these groups of points actually mean, and do!

What about Acupuncture points not on the body? And the Channels?

Jonathan Brand colours

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