Ever wonder why some acupuncture points are used in almost every treatment? Why it is common to have a needle placed a little below your knee, on your wrist, in the web of your hand, or on your lower leg? It is because those points are some of the most powerful and useful points in Chinese medicine. I refer to those frequently used acupuncture points as superhero points.
Everyone loves superheroes, they save the world. A popular debate among superhero lovers is which superhero is the best. Is Superman the coolest because he has superpowers but is able to blend in with the people while he saves Metropolis? Perhaps Batman is the favorite because he has no superpowers but stays levelheaded in order to save Gotham? Maybe The Flash is the ultimate superhero because he is faster than the speed of light? It could be that Wolverine is best because he is indestructible but endures tremendous pain in order to save the world? Or is Spiderman the greatest superhero because he was bitten by a radioactive spider, giving him superpowers and ultimately becoming a superhero? Acupuncturists have similar discussions regarding which acupuncture points are considered the “superheroes” of acupuncture.
Stomach (ST) 36 is the most common point to choose, it is the “Superman” of acupuncture points. Located below the knee, ST 36 tonifies qi and blood, harmonizes the intestines, benefits the stomach and spleen, transforms dampness, benefits the spirit, dispels pathogens, courses wind, and helps prevent disease (Deadman 158). It is arguably the most important point on the stomach channel, a channel that contains 45 points. It is not, however, an extra point or part of an extraordinary vessel rather it is one point in a large channel. This is very similar to Superman who has the strength and power to save everyone but as soon as he puts on his glasses, he is an average citizen.
The “Batman” of points is Pericardium (PC) 6 because it protects the heart, just as Batman protects Gotham. Located proximal to the wrist crease, PC 6 helps calm the spirit and most importantly, suppresses pain. PC 6 is also used for nausea and vomiting especially in cases of morning sickness (Deadman 376-377). This point is often used because people need to be calm in order to be healthy. Similarly, Batman’s ability to stay calm and think with a clear mind, allows him to protect the city of Gotham.
Liver (LV) 5 is The Flash of points. It strongly courses liver qi throughout the body, moving qi quickly just like The Flash. Everyday people feel stuck because their qi is unable to move and they become frustrated. When LV 5, located on the lower leg, is stimulated, qi starts moving faster and people feel more relaxed. It is a wonderful point for anyone who needs a pick-me-up (Deadman 482-483).
Large Intestine (LI) 4, located in the web of a hand between the thumb and pointer finger, is comparable to Wolverine because despite its tenderness it helps heal the body quickly. It can promote labor, cure a headache, prevent sickness, and even help with back pain (Deadman 103-106). Most people find LI 4 painful, but it is a small price to pay in order to help almost every ailment. Wolverine is comparable to LI 4, as he too experiences initial pain when helping people but powers through, as he know it’s a necessary side effect.
Spiderman was a nerdy high school student who from one radioactive spider bite became stronger, smarter, and faster. Spleen (SP) 6 is similar to the spider bite because stimulating SP 6 can help turn a common weakness into a strength. SP 6 tonifies blood, benefits kidney yin, and spreads qi. Located on the lower leg, it can help build a person’s blood, calm their mind, and move their qi (Deadman 189-192). It has the ability to help transform someone into a superhero.
Each of these points have their own “superpowers.” They can help heal sickness and stop pain. They are the Superman, Batman, The Flash, Wolverine, and Spiderman of acupuncture points. Just like their alter egos each point saves lives. We will never know which superhero is the strongest, just as we will never know which acupuncture point is the most effective — it simply depends on the individual patient. Sometimes the patient needs a point that treats every ailment, sometimes they’ll need a point that protects the heart, or even one that moves qi fast or strengthens the body. Sometimes, they may need them all.
Deadman, Peter, Mazin Khafaji, and Kevin Baker. A manual of acupuncture. Hove, East Sussex, England: Journal of Chinese Medicine Publications ;, 2007. Print.