Element Acupuncture Points

Element points lie between elbow and finger-tip or knee and toe-tip. They hugely enhance other acupuncture strategies but some acupuncturists ignore them!
Leg Stomach Channel yuan-source points
Copyright Acupuncture Points

Element points lie between elbow and finger-tip or knee and toe-tip. They hugely enhance other acupuncture strategies.

Warning! This page is rather abstract, and is here really only for reference. If you’re new to all this stuff, don’t start here! Click here perhaps for something more digestible.

Although so distal from problems in the head and body, for thousands of years experience has shown their importance for health.

One school of acupuncture, the Five Elements school, emphasises them in both diagnosis and treatment. However, the way they use and recognise their importance is very different to that in modern TCM Theory.

In Five Element thinking the element point is identified and used variously according to the

  • causative factor in the patient
  • category of the point (eg Fire point, or Water point)
  • relationship to other elements via the sheng or ke cycle
  • meaning of its name
  • season of the year
  • time of day

 

Other types of acupuncture

In other forms of acupuncture and depending on the training of the practitioner, point-use depends on one or more of the following:

  • energetic description of the point
  • location
  • channel theory
  • action of the point as discovered over the centuries
  • known clinical application often in combination with other points
  • name of the point
  • relationship to other zang-fu via the sheng or ke cycles

 

So there is some overlap, but in Five Elements theory any of the element points may be equally relevant, whereas in modern general acupuncture some points are hardly or seldom used. For example, jing-well points, those at the extreme ends of the channels on either fingertips or toes, are used more often in Five Element treatment. 

Also, the needle size is usually different, and so is the acupuncture technique, being much more elaborated in general acupuncture theory. Five element practitioners typically use fewer and thinner needles and a very simple needle technique.

Comparison Element point with Transport point theory

Another way of understanding and using the Element points comes from Transport point theory. 

Although referring to exactly the same  points listed below, each is regarded as having a specific purpose which depends on its position in the channel starting distally and reaching proximally to knee or elbow.

The tables below also include the Luo-connecting or ‘junction’ points for each channel although, strictly speaking, they are not element points. 

In Yin channels the Earth point is also the channel’s source point.

For Yang channels, the source points are listed in the left-hand column.

If the point is not in red, indicating a link to a fuller description, we have not yet written a page on that point.

Yin channel element points

 WoodFireEarthMetalWaterLuo
LiverLiv 1 DadunLiv 2 XingjianLiv  3 TaichongLiv 4 ZhongfengLiv 8 QuquanLiv 5 Ligou
HeartHt9 ShaochongHt8 ShaofuHt7 ShenmenHt4 LingdaoHt3 ShaohaiHt5 Tongli
PericardiumP9 ZhongchongP8 LaogongP7 DalingP5 JianshiP3 QuzeP6 Neiguan
SpleenSp1 YinbaiSp2 daduSp3 TaibaiSp5 ShangqiuSp9 YinlingquanSp4 Gongsun
LungsLg11 ShaoshangLg10 YujiLg9 TaiyuanLg8 JingquLg5 ChizeLg7 Lieque
KidneyK1 YongquanK2 RangguK3 TaixiK7 FuliuK9 Zhubin

K4 Dazhong

Yang channel element points

 MetalWaterWoodFireEarthLuo

Gallbladder

Source pt

Gb40 Qiuxu

GB44 ZuqiaoyinGB43 XiaxiGB41 ZulinqiGB38 YangfuGB34 YanglingquanGB37 Guangming

Small Intestine

Source pt

Si 4 Wangu

Si1 ShaozeSi 2 QianguSi3 HouxiSi 5 YangguSi8 XiaohaiSi7 Zhizheng

Sanjiao – Three Heater

Source pt

SJ4 Yangchi

SJ1 GuanchongSJ2 YemenSJ3 ZhongzhuSJ6 ZhigouSJ10 TianjingSJ5 Waiguan

Stomach

Source pt

St42 Chongyang

St45 LiduiSt44 NeitingSt43 XianguSt41 JiexiSt36 ZusanliSt40 Fenglong

Large Intestine

Source pt

LI4 Hegu

LI1 ShangyangLI2 ErjianLI3 SanjianLI5 YangxiLI11 QuchiLI6 Pianli

Bladder

Source pt

Bl64 Jinggu

Bl67 ZhiyinBl66 ZutongguBl65 ShuguBl60 KunlunBl40  WeizhongBl58 Feiyang
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Tonify and Sedate: sheng cycle

A basic use is to employ the sheng cycle to identify the mother or child point. Usually the mother point is ‘tonified’ and the child point is ‘sedated’.

For example, if diagnosis leads the acupuncturist to decide that the Gallbladder is deficient, then its mother point, the Water point GB43 Xiaxi would be chosen.

If the Gallbladder were deemed ‘excess’, it would be sedated via its Fire point, Gb38 Yangfu.

Ke cycle to ‘control’ or ‘steady’

If the Liver were deemed excess, one could either sedate it via the sheng cycle – using its Fire point, Liv2 Xingjian, or control it with its Metal point Liv4 Zhongfeng.

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2 Responses

  1. Dear Dr. I am reading some of the books and you really simplify the subject so we understand it. In India there are no acupuncture schools but some teachers were teaching very basics of acupuncture. Now acupuncture is legally allowed and then we will have to give a simple exam for which we study on internet for the meanings of different terms and theories. So thank you very much that you are not hiding the knowledge.

    1. Hi Kiran, I’m glad you find this Element Acupuncture points page useful.

      I trained first in Five Elements acupuncture, then studied TCM theory and practice in China and in the UK, so I know how they differ.

      Five Elements acupuncture is more subtle and doesn’t have immediate solutions for syndromes, channel problems and acute conditions like TCM, but can be immensely powerful and, for practitioners, fulfilling. It is, in my experience, harder to learn and to practise but repays effort.

      Thank you for your contribution!

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