Back Shu or Correspondence points

Bladder 23 - Back Shu Points
Bladder 23 - Back Shu Points

What are these ‘Correspondence or Back Shu points’?

These are important acupuncture points on your back. They all lie on the Bladder acupuncture channel which runs parallel with and on either side of your spine.

(By the way, this may be a bit technical for non-acupuncturists, but whenever someone massages or rubs your back, they are nearly always unconsciously treating one or more of these points!)

The image above shows where an important back shu point is – Bladder 23.

They aren’t recognised by Western Medicine.

In using them, the points –

  • May be sore on pressure when the corresponding zang or fu organ is out of balance.
  • Have a more direct contact with the zang-fu in question than most other points, so can be used directly to clear excess or tonify deficiency, either in support of other points or on their own.
  • Are probably used more for zang than for fu organ problems, but this depends on the practitioner.
  • Don’t appear to have any effect on the channel associated with the zang fu, except the Bladder channel (on which all the points lie) and possibly the Governing channel (which runs parallel to and in between the Bladder channels).
  • All have the suffix ‘–shu’ which means transporting point: a point that transports directly to the zang or fu which precedes the suffix, as in gan-shu, meaning ‘liver transporting point’.

A List of the Back Shu Points


BL-25L. IntestineDachangshuBL-23KidneyShenshu
BL-20SpleenPishu 2BL-22SanjiaoSanjiaoshu
BL-15HeartXinshuBL-19Gall BladderDanshu
BL-27S. IntestineXiaochangshuBL-18LiverGanshu

Using the Back Shu Points

More often they are used to clear excess than to tonify deficiency. 

Sliding Cupping to clear Invasion

For instance, someone catching a cold or fever, (in Chinese medicine this might be an invasion of ‘Wind-Cold‘ or ‘Wind-Heat‘), might receive a form of cupping called ‘sliding cupping’.

Sliding cupping on these Correspondence points is done by applying a lubricant such as a light oil, then the cups, and slowly sliding them up and down the back over the particular points for Wind-Cold or Wind-Heat until the skin becomes congested, and its colour goes purple. 

The effect is to clear the pathogenic factor (wind-cold or wind-heat), accelerate the general metabolism and assist waste and toxin elimination. 

Often the patient falls asleep and wakes up with the pathogenic factor cleared.

Clearing Heat

These correspondence points excel in clearing heat. Some acupuncturists use them specifically for this purpose, inserting the needles only just into the skin, and watching as, when inserted into the correct correspondence points, a general erythema (skin redness) develops around the base of the needles.

Back-shu points inflammation

Indeed, the appearance of this redness may confirm a diagnosis. (Note that this explanation isn’t quite complete as there are several other steps to take to be sure. Read our page on Aggressive energy for more on this.)

Equally, when a point is used to treat its related zang or fu organ there can be a swift resolution of disharmony.

For example, Bladder 18, the Correspondence point of the Liver, is a major point for balancing an overburdened Liver organ. 

However, to some extent it also calms Liver Qi stagnation, for example, so can be used to support other treatment aimed at that.


Regulating Qi

Sometimes when Qi has moved out of place, perhaps tending to ascend too much because of deficiency below, Correspondence points on the dorsal area can be used to send Qi downwards, and points on the lumbar area can be used to hold it down.


Where an organ is under-performing, some acupuncturists use the related Correspondence point to tonify or regulate it. 

Some back shu points also have other important functions. For example, Bladder 23, the Kidney back shu point, is often used to strengthen the lumbar area and to fortify Kidney functions such as Kidney Yin, Kidney qi and Kidney Yang.

Now read about something similar, the Acupuncture Alarm points.

Get back from Back Shu points to Acupuncture Point Categories.

Jonathan Brand colours

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