TCM Point Description and Theories


TCM Point Description and Theories


Traditional Chinese Medicine implements a variety of theories focused on their functions and relationships that group acupuncture points together. In a clinical setting, many of these theories are important and are used, along with other theories and diagnostic data, to determine which acupuncture points will be used for a given diagnostic pattern or disease. Below is more information about the Five Shu Points; Yuan Source, Luo Connection, and Xi Cleft Points; Front Mu and Back Shu Points; Hui Influential Points; Command Points; and Ghost Points. 

Five Shu Points


Jing Well, Ying Spring, Shu Stream, Jing River, & He Sea Points

The twelve channels have five important acupoints at the extremities and near the elbow and knee joints, respectively named Jing, Rong, Shu, Jing, and He, collectively called "Five Shu Points." Stimulating these acupoints can regulate the activity of the channels, thereby affecting the corresponding parts and viscera. They are arranged in sequence from the extremities to the elbows and knees, and each has its own characteristics. Ancient doctors compared the movement of channel qi to flowing water in nature to illustrate the depth and different effects of the passage parts of channel qi.


 Jing Points:

Jing points are the source of qi, like the source of water or where qi rises. Jing points have the effect of communicating yin and yang, qi and blood, and are mostly used in emergency cases. It has the effect to resuscitate, open the orifices, restore the shen (spirit), reduce inflammation and relieve pain. It’s mostly used for excess conditions and the common method is bloodletting.

 Additionally, it has a strong stimulating effect on its own channel. For example, the Jing point of the Urinary Bladder channel can turn the fetus in the uterus. Also, all the Back Shu points are on this channel so by stimulating the Jing point of the bladder channel, Zhiyin (BL 67), it excites all the zang fu organs and thus can correct a breeched presentation.  Shaochong (HT 9) is mostly used for resuscitation in fainting or other emergency cases. Yinbai (SP 1) treats beng lou (flooding and spotting) as it strongly stimulates the Spleen channel to restore its effect to keep the blood in the vessels. Jing points can also strongly stimulate the channel therefore Shaoze (SI 1) can treat insufficient lactation because it can stimulate the Small Intestine to process fat and fluids more effectively in the intestines. Renzhong (GV 26) and Huiyin (CV 1) are Jing points of the du (governing) and ren (conception) channels and are mainly used for shen (spirit) related conditions.


Ying or Rong Points:  

This point is where qi glides, like air or like the slight flow of water flowing out of a spring.  All Ying points can reduce fever or heat. There are two types of heat, excess heat and deficient heat. This also includes deficient floating yang or interior heat with exterior cold. Ying points are best at treating excess fire such as fire as a result from improper dietary intake (too much spicy food). The Ying points on the yin channels are best for treating deficient fire. For example, Erjian (LI 2) treats sore throat, Neiting (ST 44) for Stomach fire, Xingjian (LR 2) for Liver fire.

Ying points govern exterior channels so ying points are excellent in treating sympathetic system disharmony while He points are better for conditions associated with an abnormal parasympathetic system.

Also, Ying points treat disease that manifest in changes of color such as facial compleXion turning black indicating Kidney disorders.


Shu  Points:

This is where qi pours down, like water flowing from shallow to deep.  Shu points are mostly used to relieve pain, treat conditions that come and go, and heaviness and joint pain caused by dampness. It’s best to treat conditions that are excess in nature with blood stasis. Rheumatoid arthritis, arthritis, edema, problems with the limbs can all be treated with Shu points. Shu points of the yin channels are also Yuan points. Needling them can replenish the Yuan qi and treat deficiency of the zang organs.


Jing Points:

 The movement of qi here is like water flowing in a river. Jing points treat exterior condition, voice changes, cough, dyspnea and asthma. These problems are all associated with the Lung. Jing points, when combined with Ying points or Shu points can treat wind-cold conditions. In wind-heat, combine with He points. Combined with Jing points, it can clear heat and release the exterior.


He Points:

The meridians are filled with qi, just as the rivers flow into the sea, and thus deep into the viscera. He points are mainly used to treat six-fu-organ diseases, especially improper dietary intake leading to symptoms such as vomiting, diarrhea, dizziness, and feeling of distention in the head. It descends qi reversal syndromes. When the disease is in the yang stage, or autonomic nervous dysfunction, He points of the yang channels can be used.  It will clear excess heat, damp heat or excess heat causing bleeding. He points are best at regulating qi and blood functions when the channel is full.



Five Shu points are very effective and have a wide range of application. They have been highly valued by doctors in the past and continue to be utilized prevalently today.  These acupuncture points are not only used to treat diseases in the localized areas, they also treat zang fu, head, face and five sense organs.  

Also, Five Element acupuncture also utilizes the five Shu points in selecting the son point to sedate and the mother point to tonify. This style of acupuncture is also widely used throughout the world today.


Yuan Source, Luo Connecting, Xi Cleft, Front Mu, & Back Shu Points

Yuan Source and Luo Connecting

The twelve channels each have a point near the wrist or ankle, which are the parts where the original energy of the viscera passes and stays, called Yuan points. Around this area, the twelve channels separate into collaterals and the Luo point is what connects the outer and inner channels.

Yuan qi, also known as vitality, true vitality, or true source qi is the driving force of human life activities. The Yuan point of the channel can regulate the channel and its zang fu functions. It can tonify deficiency, sedate excess and effectively treat organ disorders. It can be used alone or together with Luo points to treat both the interior and exterior connected organs/channels.

The Shu points on the yin channel are also the Yuan points. There are a total of twelve Yuan points.

Luo points connect the exterior and interior zang fu organs. Because it connects, it can treat both organs. For example, Lieque (LU 7) can treat cough, a problem in the Lung channel/organ as well as toothache or neck pain from Large Intestine channel imbalance.

Luo points can also help in the diagnosis. When a channel is sick, sometimes there will be soreness, numbness, hardening or color changes at the corresponding Luo point. For example, if the Heart channel is sick, excess manifesting in shortness of breath with inability to lie down or deficiency with inability to speak, the point to use is Tongli (HT 5). For excess conditions, superficial bloodletting is most effective.

In summary, the 15 Luo points can treat both excess and deficiency of both channels that they are connected with. It can also be bloodlet to treat acute heat or inflammation.

Clinically, Yuan points and Luo points are used together frequently to achieve synergistic effects. It’s called the “Yuan Luo Method.” For example, if the Large Intestine is sick, then Hegu (LI 4), Yuan point of the Large Intestine channel can be used in addition to Lieque (LU 7), the Luo point of the Lung.


Xi Cleft Points

Among the specific points of the twelve channel system and the Yinqiao, Yangqiao, Yinwei and Yangwei, the Xi points are the 16 places where the qi gathers in the deepest level, mostly on the limbs, below the knee and elbows. In most cases, an abnormality in the Xi point indicates a serious condition where symptoms may be acute or severe. 

Most of the time, Xi points are used for acute conditions, pain, inflammation or chronic non-healing conditions associated with the respective zang fu organs. Xi points on the yin channels can also stop bleeding. For example, Kongzui (LU 6) can treat hemoptysis. Zhongdu (LR 6) can treat metrorrhagia, etc. Yang channel Xi points are better at relieving pain. For example, Yanglao (SI 6) is excellent for acute back pain and Liangqiu (ST 34) for acute stomach pain. 

Clinically, Xi points can be used alone or in combination with the Eight Hui Influential points, which is called the “Xi Hui Method.” For example,  Liangqiu (ST 34) with Zhongwan (CV 12) for acute gastritis and Kongzui (LU 6) and Shanzhong (CV 17) for qi reversal and hemoptysis. 


Front Mu, & Back Shu Points

The Front Mu points are where the qi of the zang fu are infused on the front of the body, the chest and the abdomen. The Back Shu points are where the qi is infused on the back of the body. Because these points are located on the trunk, they are closely related to the respective zang fu organs. 

 Each zang fu organ has a Shu point, which is located on the first side line lateral to the spine on the Urinary Bladder channel. They are named according to the organs. In the Nanjing, “Difficult Classics”:”Yin diseases manifest in the Shu points on the back of the body. They can be used as diagnostic points as they often become sore when their related zang fu is imbalanced or sick. Needling these points can have a direct beneficial effect on the zang fu organs. These points can also treat diseases related to the organ’s function such as five sense organs, nine orifices, skin, muscle, tendons or bones. For example, GanShu (BL 18) can treat liver conditions in addition to eye disorders and spasms. ShenShu (BL 23) can treat kidney disorders as well as tinnitus, deafness, impotence and bone related diseases.  Shu points are best at treating chronic disorders. 

Each zang fu organ also has a Mu point, located on the front of the body, either on the Ren channel or bilaterally on the sides as two points. Mu points can be used for diagnosis as most disease of the six fu organs (yang diseases) will manifest on the Mu points. In cases of treatment, Mu points can treat its respective fu organ disorders as well as yang channel disorders. For example, Zhongwan (CV 12) can be used for stomach pain, TianShu (ST 25) can be used for diarrhea and Zhongji (CV 3) for sciatica due to Bladder channel imbalance. Mu points are mostly used to address acute or local problems of the organs. Some texts suggest that they are better at treating the fu organ while the Shu points are better for zang organs. 


Shu points belong to yang on the back while Mu points belong to Yin on the front. Clinically, they are used together frequently as the “Shu Mu Method.” When the zang is imbalanced, the Shu point should be the primary point of selection while the Mu point being the assistant. For example, for stomach pain, needle Zhongwan (CV 12) first, then WeiShu (BL 21). If there is a Lung problem, moxa FeiShu (BL 13) first and then needle Zhongfu (LU 1).  


Hui Influential & Command Points

Hui Meeting Points

Hui Meeting points are also known as the Influential Points or the Gathering points. There are a total of eight points that spread out on the torso and the limbs. They are specific points in which the Jing qi of the zang fu, qi, blood, tendon, vessels, bone and marrow meet and can treat them and their related disorders respectively. These points are commonly used for chronic conditions. See example below:

Zhangmen (LR 13), Hui point for zang organs. This point can treat all chronic zang disorders but is most effective for treating chronic Liver and Spleen disorders. It’s also the front Mu point of the Spleen channel.

Zhongwan (CV 12), Hui point for the fu organs. This point can treat all chronic fu organ disorders but is best for chronic Stomach and Large Intestine disorders.  It’s also the front Mu point for the Stomach channel.

Shanzhong (CV 17), Hui point for the Qi is best for various qi conditions such as chest stuffiness, shortness of breath, hiccup, asthma, belching, nausea, etc. It’s also the front Mu point for the Pericardium channel.

GeShu (BL 17) is the Hui point for blood and it can be used for all bleeding conditions, anemia, or blood stasis as it can tonify blood, move blood and stop bleeding.

Yanglingquan (GB 34) is the Hui point for the tendon and sinews. Disorders such as hemiplegia, frozen shoulder, spasm, contracture, wei zheng (atrophy syndrome), bi zheng (painful obstruction syndrome), can all be treated with Yanglingquan (GB 34).

TaiYuan (LU 9), the Hui point for blood vessels can treat disorders such as vasculitis, arteriosclerosis, etc,.

DaShu (BL 11) is the Hui point for the bones and can treat all bone disorders, especially joint pain, bone pain, especially neck, shoulder and limb bone pain. Also, it’s great for osteoporosis.

Finally, Xuanzhong (GB 39) is the Hui point for the marrow and it’s best for post-stroke, lower body paralysis, wei zheng (atrophy syndrome) with weakness, anemia, pain, mental and cognitive disorders, etc.

Command Points

The six command points are used to treat specific areas of the body regardless of TCM diagnosis (hot, cold, exterior, interior, excess or deficiency).


Four Sea Points & Ghost Points


Four Sea Points

In nature, there is east, west, north and south, thus the ancients believed the body should also have four points that are pivotal for treating the four most important substances in the body: marrow, blood, qi and nourishment.

Marrow is the palace of shen (spirit) and source of all qi and blood. When the sea of marrow is empty, the patient will experience tinnitus, forgetfulness, soreness of the back and knees and general weakness. 

The sea of qi, when in excess, patients will experience redness of the face, and chest fullness while deficiency manifests as lack of energy to speak or low voice.

The sea of blood point can treat blood stasis and blood deficiency.

Finally, the sea of nourishment, water and grain or digestion can treat all digestive and appetite issues.


Ghost Points

Originating from Qian Jin Yao Fang (Thousand Ducat Prescriptions) by Sun Si-Miao in 581-685 A.D., there are a total of 13 Ghost points used to treat psychological or shen disturbance problems as patients are believed to be possessed by a ghost. There are many cautions when needling these points, some being the bazi of the acupuncturists should be of a certain type, silver needles need to be used, and at most needle 6-7 points, not all thirteen. The goal is to purge the ghost from the body, not to kill it, which may have more detrimental effect. Today, they can be used to treat conditions such as depression, mania, schizophrenia, etc.

More information on major acupuncture points and charts can be found at