Acupuncture is a key component of traditional Chinese medicine, or TCM as we called it. It is also an alternative medicine in which practitioners insert thin needles into the acupuncture points of the body to relieve pain and aches, as well as other medical conditions.
Though there are insufficient evidence to suggest that acupuncture is effective for all kinds of diseases and pains, majority of the research showed that it can indeed alleviate some forms of pain and aches.
In particular, it is important for TCM or acupuncture practitioners to know exactly the acupuncture points in order to help patients relieve any pains and discomfort in their body. The following content contains a comprehensive list of acupuncture points, and shows the locations on the body used in acupuncture, acupressure, and other treatment systems based on traditional Chinese medicine.
Acupuncture Points In the Body
Altogether, there are more than 400 acupuncture points on an adult person’s body. Most of them are located on one of the main meridians, pathways which run throughout the body and according to TCM, transport life energy (qi, 氣).
In TCM, there are 20 meridians which have branching sub-meridians believed to affect surrounding tissues. The 12 primary meridians are bilateral and are associated with internal organs. The remaining 8 meridians are also bilateral except for 3, one that encircles the body near the waist, and 2 that run along the midline of the body. Note that only those 2 extraordinary meridians contain their own points, the remaining 6 comprise points from the aforementioned 12 primary meridians.
There are also points that are not located on the 14 major meridians but do lie in the complete nexus referred to as jing luo (經絡).
In practice, these points are located by a combination of anatomical landmarks, palpation, and feedback from the patient.
Names of Acupuncture Points
Some acupuncture points have more than one name, though a standard nomenclature was developed to identify them on meridians. The report “A Proposed Standard International Acupuncture Nomenclature Report” published by the World Health Organization (WHO) in 1991 listed 361 classical acupuncture points organized according to the 14 meridians, 8 extra meridians, 48 extra points and scalp acupuncture points.
Identifying The Acupuncture Points
Each acupuncture point is identified by the meridian on which it is located and its number in the point sequence on that channel.
For example, Lu-9 identifies the 9th acupuncture point on the lung meridian, tài yuān (太渊) or gui xin (鬼心), two names used for this same point. The only glitch with this unique systemized method can be found on the urinary bladder meridian, where the outer line of 14 points found on the back near the spine are inserted in one of two ways; following the last point of the inner line along the spine (會陽) and resuming with the point found in the crease of the buttocks (承扶), or following the point in the center of the crease of the knee (委中) and resuming with the point just below that (合陽), found in the bifurcation of the gastrocnemius muscle.
Although classification of the extra points often tries to utilize a similar shortcut method, where a numbered sequence along an assigned body part is used, there is no commonly agreed-upon system and therefore universal identification of these points relies on the original naming system of traditional Chinese characters.
The above figure and the tables here follow the standard numbering scheme to identify the acupuncture points of the main channels. For extra points, the tables follow the numbering scheme found in A Manual of Acupuncture.
Find out all about acupuncture here.
Curious about other TCM methods? Check out more about tuina here.