My 85 year old grandmother, whose eyesight was failing, used to say that if she couldn’t read the number of a bus she’d close her eyes for a a few seconds while she took several deep breaths, after which she could read the number without difficulty.
Pity she didn’t know about this point.
But her advice is still good. She realised that with better oxygen in her blood, she could see more. I’ve put her advice on this page, because in Chinese medicine Liver Blood feeds the eyes. This point helps make better Liver Blood – so, better Blood:- better Liver Blood:-better vision.
Where is Liver 8?
The official place for this point is upon the medial surface of the knee, posterior to the medial condyle of the tibia and very close to the end of the crease formed when the knee bends.
Another way of finding the point is to describe it as being superior to the medial end of the popliteal crease, as described, and just superior to the depression formed by the tendons of the semitendinosus and semimembranosus muscles, about 1 cun anterior to Kidney 10, Yingu. Both these methods clearly differentiate Liver 8 from Kidney 10 acupuncture point and entirely different to Spleen 9 acupuncture point which is inferior to the medial condyle of the tibia.
In both the above ways of identifying the position of the point, the knee has to be bent, to find the popliteal crease. What if the patient can’t easily bend the knee?
My way of locating Liver 8
I can’t say that my way of finding the point is any better than the two ways mentioned above, but I seldom use them.
Instead, with the knee almost straight, as perhaps when resting with a pillow under it, find where the femur and the tibia meet. This is usually medial to the lower edge of the patella – the knee cap. Run your finger posteriorly along where they meet (ie along the inferior medial surface of the medial epicondyle of the knee) until you touch the anterior surface of the tendons of the sartorius and gracilis.
In that depression is where to insert the needle, pointing diagonally and posteriorly towards the gap between the two bones. As the position of entry is anterior to the official location, the needle must be directed along behind the tendons. However, I nearly always get Deqi this way more easily than via the ‘official’ method.
Of course, it’s always possible that I’ve identified another acupuncture point, hitherto hidden from millions of acupuncture practitioners over some 3000 years, henceforth to be named ‘Clogquan’ derived from my name and that of Liver 8 Ququan. (But alas, probably not.)
In any case, the point found my way behaves just like Ququan.
Sensation when Ququan is correctly needled
Deqi is usually felt on the inside of the knee and up the thigh.
Be aware that some people are very sensitive at this point (it is, after all, at one of the well-known erogenous zones) so you must be gentle but firm in locating the point, and then quick when inserting the needle.
In my experience, sensitivity is at the skin surface rather than much deeper though of course, poking about as you try to find deqi can be sore if you don’t know what you’re doing.
The point has three main actions, being nourishing, clearing and local. Nourishing and Clearing are actually two sides of the same coin.
1. Nourishing with Liver 8
It nourishes the Liver energy, Liver Blood and Liver Yin. Liver 8 doesn’t seem to increase Liver Yang: if anything it pacifies it, and so helps to relax the tendons and what are called the collaterals.
It moves and invigorates the uterus and its Blood.
Liver 8 strengthens the actions of the genitals.
It helps the Bladder gather and redistribute the fluids, transforming them so that they can be flushed out. (The fluids meant here are all the extraneous fluids that otherwise obstruct the free flow of qi in the body. Mostly that means from Damp and Phlegm.)
By clarifying the liquids it produces those the Liver needs for its Yin and Blood. Consequently it helps to clear swelling in the abdomen caused by Damp which takes the point into its second sphere of action.
Deficiency in the lower abdomen energy can lead to anal bleeding, spermatorrhoea and nocturnal emissions: this point helps them all, as well as some forms of impotence.
By nourishing Liver Blood and Yin it relaxes tight tendons.
And … as mentioned … by nourishing Liver Blood you benefit your vision. That’s something all of us who work at computers should bear in mind. Look up and out through our windows, walk in our parks, breathe more oxygen: feed our eyes.
2. Clearing with Liver 8
It dispels Damp Heat in the Bladder, Kidney and lower part of the abdomen. For example, it clears Damp-Heat from the urogenital areas, pruritis vulvae, vaginitis, pain in the penis, prostatitis, nephritis, green or yellow discharges, and cystitis (if caused by Damp-Heat), or swelling in the abdomen or loins from Damp. Particularly useful for Liver Damp Heat problems.
Also useful for clearing diarrhoea caused by Damp-Heat, or even Heat, as occurs in hot climates from the sun or in cold climates from sitting on hot radiators, or (back in hot climates again) from unwise food choices: ‘Delhi Belhi’, dysentery with blood and pus.
Damp can cause anuria, the inability to urinate: this point also helps clear that Damp.
Damp can swell the sexual organs, as occurs in some sexual diseases: this point is specific for that (though I would probably use Liver 5 as well.)
Hernias in the inguinal area also come under this point being caused by either Damp or Deficiency along the path of the channel. In this case use with Liver 12 and Spleen 6.
If you have someone with epistaxis (nose-bleed) in the morning from excess Liver Yang, this point can often pacify it, but not much at the time of the epistaxis. Instead, use it later in the day to steady Liver Yang. If successful, the epistaxis won’t recur.
Because the path of the Liver meridian wraps round the urogenital area and Liver 8 is the nearest ‘control’ point on the meridian to the urogenital area, it can be used in a variety of urogenital conditions beyond those mentioned above.
3. Liver 8’s Local action
Used for pain in the knee, such as difficulty bending or stretching it, or cramps there or in the inner thigh.
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With Liver 2, (particularly when there is excess Liver Yang), Liver 8 helps move the menses, especially if there is stagnant Blood. Liver 2 is better than Liver 3 for this.
One way to clear Liver Fire is Liver 4 and 8 combination.
With Liver 5, Liver 8 is a main point for strengthening the energy of the lower abdomen, so very useful for helping women post-pregnancy recover the tone of their abdomens, and for prolapse of the uterus (when Kidney 6 and Liver 1 may also help).
Although not specifically mentioned above, nourishing Liver Blood means it can counteract failing or tired eyesight and, in a larger sense, support the ability to see the ‘whole picture’.
For weary students and others working late at night over hot computers, Liver 8 can be a boon. (However, advise them rather to go to bed earlier and do the work in the morning instead, when they are fresh!) But you should remind people that eyesight benefits from good food, deep breathing and exercise too.
Food and Supplements
Nowadays we know diseases like macular degeneration can often be prevented or retarded by eating the right foods. Such foods are rich in omega 3 oils, lutein and zeaxanthin, zinc, vitamins C and E, and beta-carotene. But you should also avoid foods too rich in saturated fats. So … eat lots of oily fish and vegetables such as broccoli, (raw) cabbage, carrots, other green vegetables, watercress and so on.
Best also to stop eating sugar and flour, especially white flour products! Why? Because they cause many radicals and ultimately inflammation which finds its way to the eye.
Drugs and Medications
Choose carefully which drugs you take: many are harmful to the optic nerve, the retina and other vital parts of the eye. Tobacco is also a drug so stop that too.
Be careful of direct sunlight as ultra-violet rays can harm vision. However, sunlight in general is good for you (though not to the point where your skin burns) and light excellent for the eyes.
For example, looking – with eyes closed – towards the sun gives them a great boost. It may help you sleep better too, as your pineal gland benefits from the light. However, that takes us back to Liver 8 which, because it nourishes Blood and Yin, and because the Shen is said to rest in the Blood at night, can also help you sleep better.