Given that the distance between the superior part of the pubic bone and the umbilicus is a distance of 5 cun, working out the distance of 1.5cun can be a problem, because 1.5 cun is less than one-third of 5 cun!
There are various ways to do it.
Because 1.5 is half 3, and 5 is half 10, you could just as easily say the point is 3 tenths of the way down from the umbilicus to the pubic bone. In that case, measure the distance off in lots of 2 tenths and then divide the distance between the second and fourth tenths by two and there’s the point. However, this is really the same as you have to divide the distance by 10 instead of 5. Some people like this however as they have the minds of accountants and it makes it more precise for them. I used to be an accountant but I don’t do it that way.
There is a fairly general agreement that the width of the middle and index fingers (of the patient) when held together is 1.5 cun. The distance is measured at the level of what is called the proximal inter-phalangeal joint. This is the first joint as you proceed from the knuckle towards the finger-tip.
Most people can bend this joint through at least 90 degrees – a right angle, unlike the second inter-phalangeal joint which lacks such flexibility. So you get the patient to place his index and middle fingers together on his abdomen inferior to the umbilicus. If the medial side of the index finger is level with the centre of the umbilicus, the lateral side of the middle finger should mark the location of Qihai.
That’s fine if the patient doesn’t mind doing it and has fingers. Not all patients have fingers, though most start with them – but not all. So if methods one and two don’t suit you, you need a back-up. My system depends on rough approximation, like an engineer – I studied engineering at university and approximations suit me. (Don’t scoff at approximations: even when they send rockets to the Moon, engineers still use approximations, although admittedly the tolerances they allow for are finer than you’ll be using with this, method 3.)
So what is method 3? Divide the distance between umbilicus and pubic bone by 2. Now divide the upper half (which is 2.5 cun) by 2, and you arrive at 1.25cun down the distance from umbilicus to pubis. There really isn’t much difference between 1.25 and 1.5, so go a smidgeon further down. Then be brave, feel for the point and insert the needle.
There is another way! One third of 5 is just under 1.7 cun. So you could just divide the distance by 3 and then go up a smidgeon, instead of down a smidgeon.
Of course you can get clever measuring devices or you can use an elastic band marked of into 5 divisions, and lots of people do this. For me, method 3 usually finds the point.
Needling Conception Vessel 6
Do not needle this point in pregnant women.
Otherwise, 1 to 2 cun, perpendicular to the skin.
Up to the umbilicus, down to the urethra, and across to wherever Qi is stagnant or deficient in the abdomen.
NB! Some people have low energy and even if your point location has been precise and your depth and direction of insertion exact, it may take a while to ‘awake’ the point. Also, it helps it they have food in their belly! Acupuncture needs qi to work, and if there’s no food, qi runs low. If that’s the case you could add yang qi with moxa first, probably best done at Stomach 42 and/or Kidney 7. But if the patient is fasting or starving, this still won’t work as well as you’d like.
Sometimes using other points brings it to the surface, like Tsusanli, Stomach 36 or Taiyuan, Lung 9 – but in someone who is very weak you may be rightly cautious of using too many points at the same time. If one of the reasons you are using this point is Yang deficiency, then moxa (see below) may awaken it; once it is awake you can rouse it further with your acupuncture needle.
In young and/or healthy people with abundant Qi, the point can respond very quickly and you may find that the needle really does not need to penetrate far to get a reaction. Compare that with older or weaker patients for whom you may initially feel the tip of the needle is inside an empty tub.
Regarding those young healthy people, if their energy responds so fast, you probably don’t need to use this point! It could be that you should get other energies in balance, and ease out any Qi stagnation first.
When you need to strengthen Yang, Conception Vessel 6 is an excellent place to moxa. In case of collapse of Yang, use on a slice of ginger for added effect.
Coldness of whole body, or in chest or upper or lower abdomen or in the limbs
Loose stools, diarrhoea, dysentery from Cold in the intestines
Chronic ongoing menstrual flow from deficiency
Ongoing discharge from vagina
Weak erection (of penis – but if the impotence is caused by something other than the purposes/actions of Conception Vessel 6, it won’t work and may depress the patient further. So please diagnose your patient carefully and correctly before relying too heavily on this point!) See also sexual impotence.
Conception Vessel 6 Raises sinking Qi
Prolapse of uterus, rectum or vagina
Uterine haemorrhage (eg after childbirth)
Ongoing blood loss or discharge after labour
Moves and regulates the Lower Burner, the Lower abdominal function
Conception Vessel 6 is a powerful revitalising and reinvigorating point, but also good for all genital, urinary and abdominal conditions.
It regulates the function of Qi and its circulation, thereby dispelling weakness and Damp. So acupuncture here helps to circulate fluids and assists urination.
It benefits the uterus and the heart and with Conception Vessel 4 it strengthens the body’s resistance.
With Spleen 10 it tonifies the Qi to tonify the Blood.
If Qi stagnation (see my book below) arises from Qi deficiency then this point may be very effective in moving the stagnation.
Conception Vessel 6 is also a good point for anxiety, although there are many causes of anxiety and this point doesn’t address all of them.
In modern developed societies, many people allow themselves to get over-tired through long hours of work, too strenuous exercise, poor diet, terrible rest and sleep habits, huge expectations and then, of course, anxiety.
For them, this point can be very tempting. However, Chinese medicine and acupuncture work long-term because they emphasize balance.That balance is between yin and yang, Qi and Blood.
So just boosting Yang can imbalance people, and unfortunately you probably won’t see what happens.
If you are yin deficient, and plan to use this point, there’s something you should avoid. That’s because it boosts yang but at the expense of yin reserves. What is it? Coffee (also anything containing caffeine.)
I have used this analogy on this site already, but please don’t boost this point until you have put other matters into balance.
Otherwise, it may be a bit like putting rocket fuel into a small car.
Yes it may go very fast and your patient may seem very pleased, but if the individual driving the car is angry or otherwise emotional (imbalanced between yin and yang, qi and blood, and in the five elements cycle, for example,) they may not be able to control their car’s energy, and end up in the ditch.
Though your patient may be insistent – perhaps they read about Conception Vessel 6 here! – have compassion by all means, but tempered with good judgement!
To access other points on the Conception Vessel, click below: