Bladder 23 – Shen Shu

Bladder point 23, Shen Shu, is a point on the Bladder acupuncture channel. It is also the Back Shu, or Back correspondence point, of the Kidneys.
Bladder point 23
  • For endurance and strength, few points match Shen Shu
  • Help your body make more warmth for itself
  • Helps your body keep cool better
  • Major influence on your all-important Kidney energy

Shen shu, Bladder 23, is one of the most important points on the body.

Apologies to new readers! When this site talks about the acupuncture points, it describes what they do in terms of their properties in Chinese medicine. 

So you have to put up with a whole range of other terms, explained via links to the relevant pages.

This means it has a very direct effect on Kidney Zang and Kidney Qi. Treating this point directly affects Kidney Qi. It is also very close to the kidney organs and may accrue extra potency because of this.

Location of Shen Shu

1.5 cun lateral to the inter-vertebral space between L2 and L3, usually at the highest point of the para-spinal muscles.

 

Bladder Point 23 - focused

Needling

Obliquely towards the spine, depth 1 – 1.5 cun.

Caution! Deep needling can damage the kidney organs.

Although the point is usually found at the highest point of the para-spinal muscles, sometimes it is easier to needle the point from slightly lateral to this, because the skin may be a little less sensitive there.

 

Needling sensation: across the back to the sides and downwards.

Actions of Bladder Point 23

  • Nourishes and regulates Kidney qi
  • Assists both Kidney Yin and Kidney Yang
  • Benefits Jing-essence
  • Benefits the uterus
  • Normalises water passages: benefits urination
  • Reduces over-heating in the five Zang organs (Heart, Liver, Kidney, Lung, Spleen) along with BL-13 Feishu, BL-15 Xinshu, BL-18, Ganshu, BL-20 Pishu.
  • Strengthens the lumbar area
  • Benefits hearing and sight
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Comments on Bladder point 23

  • As mentioned, it reduces over-heating in the five Zang organs (Heart, Liver, Kidney, Lung, Spleen) along with BL-13 Feishu, BL-15 Xinshu, BL-18, Ganshu, BL-20 Pishu. This function, shared with the other back shu points listed, can be very useful when treating Full Heat, although I use it more for treating Empty Heat conditions.
  • Strengthens the lumbar area. The Kidneys ‘rule’ the lumbar area, so treating the Kidney correspondence point helps the whole area. People with sore backs often rub Bladder point 23 for relief, even when they know nothing of acupuncture.
  • Benefits hearing and sight, by strengthening Kidney Qi, Yin and Yang, together with Jing-essence. In Chinese medicine, (as opposed to Western Medicine) the hearing comes under Kidney Qi. 
  • Vision comes mostly ‘under’ Liver Qi (especially under Liver Blood) but because in Chinese medicine the Liver is the ‘child’ of the Kidneys, Kidney Qi assists Liver functions.
  • Shenshu affects many parts of the physiology in Chinese Medicine. The Kidneys are so important for the root of our health that strengthening them will help us in many ways. 
  • It is doubtful if acupuncture can actually immediately strengthen an Organ energy. However, by making it work more effectively and in better consort with the other Organ energies, it improves your whole energy system.  So, over time, each Organ will become healthier and function better. This is like taking exercise. In itself, apart from being pleasant in many ways and circulating blood it does little. But its effect is to stimulate your system to function better (unless you overdo it of course!) A more efficient system helps in a huge number of ways and everything potentially becomes fitter.

 

Other things ‘ruled’ by your Kidneys

  • Kidney energy controls Jing-essence, the source of our life energy. So, a woman’s fertility and a man’s sperm both benefit from this point. (Not just Bladder point 23, of course! There are many other points which can be used for this!) The whole genito-urinary tract and its function benefit through this point. 
  • Other areas that are ‘governed’ by the kidneys also benefit, for instance, the joints, (knees especially), the lumbar area in particular and the back in general, the bones, the joints, the hearing, memory, teeth, and hair.  
  • Because the Kidney energy supports the Liver energy, our eyesight is also benefited by good Kidney Qi. 
  • Dizziness from Jing-essence deficiency or from Kidney exhaustion can be helped by using this point.
  • Mentally, good Kidney energy gives us the ability to concentrate, a reliable memory, good coordination, determination and persistence: all of these demonstrate other uses of this point.
  • The Kidneys are said to control the orifices, especially the anus, urethra and vagina. This point helps to control involuntary discharges in these areas.
  • Bladder point 23 affects our sexual energy – but it is the energy that is involved, not the ability to perform sexually, which is more affected by our Liver and Heart energies. However, when treating impotence, this point might well be used along with other points.
  • Inflammation and heat arising anywhere benefit from this point, particularly yin-deficiency heat. This is useful for emaciation and thirst, but applies to Chinese disease syndromes that include more serious conditions like seizures and tidal fevers.

 

Your ‘Water Passages’

  • Normalising the water passages means effective provision and discharge of fluids within the body. That includes control of oedema, incontinence and to some extent sweating. That’s the sweating that occurs without obvious reason, for example at night in sleep when it’s not hot.
  • The Kidneys govern our overall strength so when someone has been exhausted from over-exertion (eg, heavy lifting), prolonged illness, even standing for too long (this applies not just to the elderly) or carrying a child for too long (in a young parent) use Bladder 23 in recuperation. 
  • Such conditions reduce yang energy and Shen Shu can then help symptoms arising from yang energy deficiency like chilliness, cold diarrhoea with undigested food in the stools or distended abdomen and cold vomiting. (Typically this kind of diarrhoea occurs between 3am and 7am.)
  • The Kidneys have a balancing relationship with the Lungs, and assist Lung energy in respiratory conditions such as asthma, dyspnoea and cough. Kidney energy governs inhalation and the ability to catch and hold the breath. Lung energy governs exhalation. Together they control Qi management in the body. However, usually when Kidney energy gets involved your condition will be chronic.
  • Strengthens Spleen qi: eg helps Spleen clear Damp. This is because Kidney Yang supports Spleen Qi, and to clear Damp the body needs warmth, which Kidney Yang provides. For this purpose, probably moxa would be used.
 
Jonathan Brand colours

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