Spleen 6 – Sanyinjiao: Three Yin Crossing

Spleen 6 Sanyinjiao is a strong reliable acupuncture point for yin and Blood problems, so good for clearing Damp and helping anaemia.
Sanyinjiao - Three yin crossing
Spleen 6, where three leg yin acupuncture channels meet

Key points

  • Where the Spleen, Liver and Kidney channels meet or ‘cross’
  • A main yin point, good for both deficiency and excess
  • Invigorates circulation of Qi and Blood
  • Harmonises digestion

Location of Spleen 6

Most authorities put Spleen 6 at 3 cun proximal to the medial malleolus, just behind the medial crest of the tibia on the medial surface of the leg. However, sometimes it’s more like 4 cun proximal.

It’s often sore to press, particularly in premenstrual women.

Another way to find it is by the patient’s hand-breadth proximal to the medial malleolus: then you just have to feel for it!

Needling Sanyinjiao

Perpendicular to the skin, or at 45 degrees in the direction of the channel, up to 1.5 cun. If the patient is strong or the condition full, the point may be much shallower.

Needle sensation

Ideally the foot should be placed flat on the floor, facing straight ahead: this helps you obtain the right stimulus which is usually downwards to the medium malleolus and even to the big toe.

Getting deqi to move up the leg takes time. I find it hard to get it much beyond the knee, a pity with such an important point.

Moxibustion

3 – 10 moxa (moxibustion).

Moxa Cone: great for Conception Vessel 6 yang deficiency

If possible make sure the patient and his or her leg is warm before doing moxa: this promotes better feedback and helps to reduce involuntary over-heating including burns.

Actions of Spleen 6

  • Stimulates the body’s ability to make – or harmonise – Blood and Qi
  • Clears Damp, spreads Liver Qi, benefits Kidney function
  • Tonifies yin
  • Invigorates circulation of Qi and Blood
  • By strengthening the Liver’s ability to spread Qi, it helps to remove obstruction from the jingluo, the system of channels. Hence this is an excellent point for pain affecting the Liver, Kidney or Spleen channel areas in the abdomen – also for Blood masses there.
  • Harmonises the digestion – particularly the ability of the intestines to absorb and transform food into blood going to the liver. Not so much use for syndromes like Stomach Cold and Deficient.

Uses of Sanyinjiao

Spleen 6 is a main point for empty Blood. It probably does this by ‘tonifying’ Jing. It seems to work on Vitamin B absorption, anaemia, calcium deficiency and bone problems. For this purpose I would use it with moxa. For this it is even better than Stomach 36. In a way, Spleen 6 is a kind of catch-all point for deficiency. So it’s a good point for itch caused by deficient Blood.

Being such a yin-enhancing point, Spleen 6 is a main point for treatment of high blood pressure, when I would use it probably with points on Pericardium channel, depending on feedback from pressure at PC8.

Helps to govern how well the body absorbs and manages fluids. It can cause urination but also control it. So it is a point to consider for painful urination but also for enuresis and frequent urination, eg through the night.

Spleen 6 acts on many of the functions of the abdomen. These include vaginal problems, lack of sperm, cystitis, lack of sexual fluids, vaginitis, impotence and even dysentery. It may help to regulate the stools, so can help some forms of constipation, though I haven’t found it acts instantly for this.

This is a major point for uterine and menstrual problems.

It’s a great point for Damp and Heat in the abdomen.

One of the main points for the genitals. Excellent for adjusting the menses – for example to bring on a late period.

With Stomach 40 Fenglong it strengthens Spleen and Stomach to resolve damp (eg in headaches from Damp and Phlegm).

Combined with Large Intestine 4 it strongly induces Blood movement downwards, hence its use to induce labour and another reason it is forbidden during pregnancy.

Earth anchors and connects Fire and Water

(This section won’t make much sense until you know something about the 5 Element system.)

In the 4 phase diagram with Earth at the centre, it connects the other four energies, Fire, Metal, Water and Wood.

 

4_phase_diagram

In particular it connects Fire and Water, so when Fire and Water – Heart and Kidneys – are not working harmoniously, use the Spleen first with this point.

This then steadies Heart via improving Blood deficiency and strengthens the banks of the Water which can then cool and steady Fire.

Forbidden in pregnancy

If the woman has a strong body and has no history of miscarriage, I have found it works well and does not weaken the uterus. (Probably this applies to other points also forbidden in pregnancy.) For example, one might use it here when the baby moves too much in the womb.

But if the woman is weak, use of this point may imperil her pregnancy. Be very careful! Not many points are forbidden and there’s usually a good reason, based on a good deal of unfortunate experience, for this caution.

Comment on Spleen 6

Spleen 6 is a very strong yin-reinforcing point. The three yin channels of the leg pass through it and whereas the Spleen’s action is to build Blood and invigorate Blood circulation, the Liver and Kidney energies are much more directed at yin energy, the Liver by storing Blood and the Kidney by its management of jing essence.

Hence Spleen 6 has a strong sedative action. It pulls energy downwards so can help some forms of nausea and control some forms of vertigo.

That means that if your patient is comparatively yang deficient, overuse of this point can poleaxe him! He’ll feel very tired and a bit depressed. So it’s a good idea to balance this point with other more-yang points or actions.

For example, moxa here helps to add yang energy. Or needling Stomach 36 at the same time often nicely balances it.

That’s assuming you want to stimulate Blood and Qi.

Being such a yin point, it is also excellent at clearing damp, using a dispersing technique. For damp, you might add other Damp dispersing points such as Ren 9 and Spleen 9.

What about insomnia caused by deficient yin energy? For this, combine it with other points such as Heart 7. Ted Kaptchuk described this as ‘nourishing the yin to sink the yang’.

The point helps regulate the mind and ‘spirit’.

Mentally it is calming and balancing for hyper conditions. (But for obsession in a strongly Yin type of person, I would disperse it.) Hence, for palpitations and racing heartbeat, unless caused by yang Invasion such as during a fever.

I used to use Spleen 6 far more than I do now. I realised that I was relying on it to do a multitude of jobs and this dulled my ability to deal with many more intricate problems. It was a bit like pouring concrete on the motorways to cover up all the cars stuck in traffic jams – and start again. It worked, but the traffic jams returned, meaning I hadn’t dealt with the underlying problem.

In some ways Spleen 6 is a representative point for the lower jiao, the pelvic contents. When the diagnosis calls for it, Spleen 6 is a reliable point.

Other Spleen points:

Jonathan Brand colours

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