Acupuncture Point Categories

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Venn diagrams help with acupuncture point categories
Some acupuncture point categories work with Venn diagrams

Acupuncture point categories help acupuncturists understand how points work. This can save time designing treatments.

For information on individual points along the meridians, click here.

What this means is that acupuncture points within a given category can all be treated or used in the same way.

It makes learning them more straightforward. Eventually, it is easy to add a point from a relevant category to improve a treatment.

A point in several categories can reduce the number of needles used. Very often, using less points produces a more elegant and effective result.

Also, knowledge of these categories enhances one’s appreciation and enjoyment of practising Chinese medicine.

So, knowledge of acupuncture point categories improves treatments!

List of Acupuncture Point Categories


Acupuncture on back



How Important are these Acupuncture Point Categories?

These acupuncture point categories are part of traditional Chinese medicine and acupuncture channel theory. Western Medicine and/or many Western acupuncturists probably pay them scant attention.

Still, they’ve been around for up to 2200 years, if not more, and they weren’t made up on a whim.

Some of them were the work of one person in particular – who admittedly may have wanted to make his mark! However, over time, others tried and tested them and eventually they passed into the tradition. Modern acupuncturists still find these classifications really useful.

Not all sprang together at once. For instance, the ‘entry-exit’ points must have been discovered after a fair amount of trial and error. The group of ‘Front mu’ points (acupuncture alarm points) as we know them were put together over time. 

We may have lost some important insights when Chinese medicine suffered various ructions starting in the 1950s.  Many people fled from China. However, not all acupuncture families made it out including some in which jealously guarded family knowledge had been handed down for generations. What they knew is lost. We have to re-discover it.

(To find out more about the history of Chinese medicine, click on Charles Buck’s book ‘Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine – Roots of Modern Practice‘.)

Those who stayed behind in China either accepted the Chinese State’s system of acupuncture or eventually died, taking their family’s knowledge and insights with them. 

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