Blood is the mother of Qi. Acupuncture uses Qi, so if Blood cannot flow and perform its ‘mothering’ function, Qi will be harder to treat.
Hence it is one of the first actions in Matsumoto acupuncture strategy to release or dis-inhibit Blood flow, which means treating Oketsu.
Because Hara diagnosis is so important in Japanese medicine (although it is also important in Chinese medicine), it is imperative, for any kind of healing, to ensure the Hara is free from Oketsu. (To understand more about the Japanese concept of the Hara, I recommend ‘
Diagnosis of Oketsu – signs and symptoms
- Digestive tract issues including constipation, pain, acidity, reflux, ulcer, colitis. All these suggest food is not properly forming into Blood, and that there may be blockages or other problems digesting food. Either way, Blood is not forming as it should, so is unable to flow as it should.
- Allergies to food: other allergies that impede free circulation of qi.
- Slow to recover from ill-health. More usually the illness will have been prolonged, slowing everything down, exhausting the body’s energy. As Qi slows, so does Blood.
- Slow recovery includes slow healing from injury or accident, surgery or shock. Scars may arise from poor healing, but scars also block acupuncture channels impeding the free flow of Qi.
- Haemorrhoids and varicose veins are obvious signs of Oketsu. Blood is pooling, unable to flow.
- Menstrual problems with heavy bleeding, dark blood or clots and pain are another sign. However, a lack of periods might indicate it too.
- Regular or frequent headaches, especially if right-sided or at the back of the head, around the occiput. Migraines and ‘heavy’ heads.
- C7/T1 area may feel stiff or painful. Over time the flesh here may thicken and feel lumpy or more solid.
- As the heart tries harder to push the blood round there may be hypertension or even palpitations.
- Arteriosclerosis, stroke (pre and/or post)
- The digestion and Lungs are intimately inter-connected and so Lung problems may occur such as skin problems and breathing difficulties, including asthma and TB
- Chronic infections including of the vagina or bladder: also of toenails and athlete’s foot
- A history of backache and sciatica
- Energy deficiency. Frequent tiredness. Dizziness.
- Lowered immunity to infection.
Psychological problems can cause or come from Oketsu
- Ongoing anxiety
- Insomnia and a feeling of always being sleepy
Specific areas on the body help to diagnose Oketsu.
Finger pressure at these areas reveals either lumpiness or pain or discomfort which eases on treatment, along often with similar signs elsewhere that do not relate to Oketsu.
Sometimes treatment for Oketsu seems to make huge changes. If you don’t perform the Oketsu treatment, other conditions may not improve until you do perform treatment for Oketsu.
If only we needed just one treatment for Oketsu! But usually, except in young healthy people without much prior disease, I need to do Oketsu almost every time I see a patient, or at least until the patient’s health has much improved.
- In the left abdomen, test the area around Kidney 15 and Stomach 27 and 27. So any ongoing tightness or pressure pain to the left of , and slightly below the umbilicus can suggest oketsu.
- On the right back the area around Bladder 17 and 18, both shu and Huatuo-jiaji points.
- Right occiput: a pain here or from pressure also points to Oketsu.
Other, observable signs of Oketsu include
- weak circulation to the peripheries,
- darker skin colour (eg on hands, fingers, or lips and under eyes – for example if there are bags under the eyes)
- hot flushes with cold hands and cold back