Three-Heater 6: SJ-6: Zhigou – Branch Ditch

Location of Three-Heater 6

SJ-6 Branch Ditch
Three-Heater 6 Zhigou

Three-Heater 6 is an acupuncture point, lying on the Three Heater channel.

On the posterior surface of the forearm, 3 cun proximal to the wrist flexure, between ulna and radius, on the radial side of the extensor digitorum communis muscle.

Needling it

Perpendicular insertion, unless another direction removes pressure-discomfort from another location, when use the direction so found.

Depth:  half to 1.5 cun

The point is often sore when you need it.

Encourage the patient not to move the arm or fingers when the needle has been inserted. Otherwise you’ll get a bent needle and a cross patient with a sore arm. (However, nearly every patient given this advice tries to move arm and/or fingers to experiment, so expect complaints in proportion to their rashness!)

The sensation on needling goes down to the fingers.


Moxibustion Cone
Moxibustion Cone

Moxibustion on the point: 3 – 5 or up to 14 very small cones

Actions of Zhigou

  • Regulates circulation of Qi
  • Clears qi stagnation
  • Eases obstruction in the intestines
  • Harmonises and cools Heat in all three jiaos (‘burning spaces’, being the upper, middle and lower parts of the body)
  • Moves fluids if qi is stagnant
  • Useful for fever when there is no sweat (TB5, TB6 and TB17 regulate perspiration) ie high fever without perspiration
  • Fire point, therefore Horary point 9-11pm


Uses of Three-Heater 6

Because of its actions, see above, Three-Heater 6 has many uses including Heat syndrome appearing as inflammation.

For example, often used for

  • hypochondriacal discomfort
  • cholecystitis
  • intercostal neuralgia – often with Gallbladder 34
  • herpes zoster
  • pleurisy
  • skin disorders of many kinds where stagnation and Heat occur
  • belching 
  • swollen throat
  • cholera with vomiting
  • during ‘flu’ with  a tight sensation in the chest
  • if using Three-Heater 6 to clear Heat, advise the patient to avoid Damp Heat Foods


In clearing qi stagnation, it eases wandering  ‘bi’ and general aching.

heart - pain? : multicolored heart wallpaper

  • during angina pectoris – cardiac pain
  • Disperses coagulation of Qi and Blood and conditions caused by this
  • Habitual constipation (consider using also Stomach 36, Spleen 15, Stomach 25 and Kidney 6)
  • Can work on the uterus if laterally displaced
  • Lack of breast milk, with Stomach 36, Ren 17 and Stomach 18
  • Can help shoulder and upper arm pain
  • Limbs swollen and painful
  • Consider where there is rib pain (often with Liver 13 and Three Heater 5)
  • May help vomiting and diarrhoea where there is Qi stagnation and Heat


Lack of Heat and the Fire Point

Being the Fire point on the Three Heater channel, when there is a lack of warmth in the body, (regular) moxa here may help the body to improve its ability to warm itself. But you’d need to use other points too, for this.

As described above, too much Heat, as in pain, redness, bleeding, can be dispersed with this point.

Comment on Three Heater 6

Three Heater 6 has a flavour of Liver 3, Taichong. If used like this, would normally be dispersed.

Muteness, acute. 

In my opinion, should help Oketsu.

Acupuncture theory is complex and fascinating.

Acupuncture theory
Photo by Remy Hellequin

Knowing the theory aids good use of this point.

Example of how underlying theory suggested SJ-6

I used Three-Heater 6 for someone who had noticed his urine flow seemed slower, with his first urination in the morning after rising seeming ‘thick’ and ‘retarded’. Also, for several weeks he had had uncontrollable itching, with skin cracks between the four smaller toes on each foot.

I took this to be due to Heat, causing the dryness and itching, and ‘thickening’ the fluids. But he had no signs of constipation, not many recent signs of Qi stagnation, no other (visible) skin problems, but some signs of weakness and heat in his anterior thighs (sore on touch, and easily burning-tired on ascending stairs).

I chose a Fire channel also because he was a somewhat excitable individual with ‘fiery’ opinions and a liking for social drugs.

He had no signs of depression, but tended to react against commonly accepted opinions: a somewhat shao-yang personality type. (Of which I get quite a few – probably being somewhat that way inclined myself!)

On first pressing SJ-6 it was sore on both arms, which I had expected.

To make the points more available for use, I pressed on his Three-Heater 2 (Water point, controlling his Fire point), which relieved the pressure pain bilaterally. Then I needled Three-Heater 2 bilaterally, confirmed that pressure-pain at each Three-Heater 6 had gone, then needled and released SJ-6 on both arms.

A fortnight later at his next appointment he said his urine was normal again and the cracks between his toes had gone, and he’d stopped itching.

However, his thigh pain had not changed. So for that I did other acupuncture, partly to clear Damp and partly to strengthen Qi. But with this patient, I always needed to consider adjusting yang and heat because it quickly built up in him. Being a shao-yang type made it probable that his underlying ‘causative’ factor in 5 Element theory was one of the Fire channels.

Jonathan Brand colours

Stay in Touch!

No spam, only notifications about new articles and updates.

The latest books
Book a Consultation
Book Consultation
Acupuncture consultation

Book a Video consultation if you want to know more about your symptoms

Related Articles

photo of person showing silver-colored ring
Causes of disease

Knee Pain

Knee pain has five main causes. It’s certainly worth trying acupuncture before you resort to surgery!

Read More »

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *