Kidney Luo Channel

This page is about the Kidney Luo channel, an acupuncture channel useful for various kinds of back pain and some kinds of chest and heart problems.

Note to readers! …

This page is a bit abstruse if you’re a beginner. It’s not that the words are any, or at least, much, more difficult than on other pages, but this is about a subject usually taught some way into acupuncture courses.

So some of the concepts need your familiarity with other ideas in Chinese medicine.

Actually, I did this page, and other luo-connecting channel pages, for me.

It means I can look up both the channel and its symptoms  on my smartphone in case I forget them.

If it helps others, great.

Find out more about luo-connecting channels here.


Kidney Luo channel pathway

  • The Kidney Luo channel commences at the acupuncture point Dazhong, Kidney 4, which is just posterior and inferior to the medial malleolus of the ankle.
  • It goes round the heel and connects with the Bladder channel which runs down the back of the leg and the lateral side of the heel.


Kidney luo
  • It ascends along the path of the Kidney channel until it reaches the area of or just below the Pericardium.
  • From there it descends to the lumbar, or low back area, where it spreads out.


Symptoms of Kidney Luo

  • Fullness: urine retention, ie can’t pee; and constipation.
  • Emptiness: lower (lumbar) backache
  • Rebellious (much like stagnant) qi in Kidney Luo channel: depressed, irritability, chest feels heavy, blocked, oppressed. An old word for this is ‘vexation‘.
  • Blood stasis; lumbar pain that is stabbing, lancinating, and worse at night
  • Phlegm: lymph nodes in the groin are swollen (can also be from Phlegm in the Spleen or Liver luo-connecting channels)
  • Cold in this luo channel: strong cramping pains, possibly with abdominal masses. 
  • Coldness here would be mainly of the lower legs and feet, and particularly of the joints: knees mainly.
  • Heat in the Kidney luo channel: blood in the urine.


Comment on Kidney Luo

The above symptoms for each of this Kidney luo channel’s syndromes come down to us from antiquity. They are brief, and any acupuncturist would look for confirmatory symptoms before being sure.

For example, the condition of emptiness needs more than just ‘lower backache’ to diagnose ’emptiness’.

Back - many low back pains relate to kidney luo problems
Back – Photo by Helen Thomas on Unsplash

Emptiness implies deficiency, tiredness, exhaustion, overuse of resources over a period of time. If there was severe lower backache, this (emptiness) diagnosis would be wrong, although there might be two things going on, one full and one empty.

In treating such a backache, the ‘full’ symptoms would have to be treated first.

If the acupuncturist was sure, he or she might treat both together, with the ‘fullness’ first, and when that cleared, going on to deal with the ’emptiness’. 

Because such a deficiency, or emptiness, usually arrives over time, this might take several treatments, otherwise the condition of ‘fullness’ might recur, say after a sudden physical exertion or shock.

So the descriptions given reveal themselves only in the light of understanding the syndromes.


Pathway of Kidney Luo

The other consideration, for acupuncturists, is how useful the originating point, Kidney 4, can be for treating channel problems anywhere along the Kidney channel, as far up as the area of the Pericardium.

This explains how the point is used for many kinds of respiratory problems and a sense of bloating or distension in the chest, for example with asthma or wheezing.

For the same reason, it can help Heart syndromes, including palpitations and many of the mental sides of Heart qi being out of balance.

This Kidney luo channel pathway extends over the lower abdomen as well, and so this point can be used for bowel and urinary problems.

It also runs up through the anterior muscular strata of the abdomen.

If weak these muscles cannot balance the huge lumbar muscles, leading to lumbar problems.

So, for appropriate syndromes of the Kidney, this point and its pathway help both front and back of the lower torso.

For example, one thinks of people whose bellies are too big, and who suffer from lumbar pain.

For them, this point and its pathway may be appropriate.

To avoid Kidney syndromes such as this, we should all strive to exercise our bodies to keep flexible and strong. For example:

  • Yoga or Tai Chi; tennis; swimming; walking; climbing: all should exercise not just our spines but our lungs;
  • Proper sleep;
  • The right, and not the wrong, nutrition;
  • Friendly and/or fulfilling relationships;
  • Awareness of our limits. Meditation helps!
  • Enough time to relax, regularly.
  • Accepting that a little stress in life is stimulating: too much destroys us.


Links to other Luo-connecting channels

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