Acupoints are the spots where qi and blood from the viscera and meridians effuse and infuse in the body surface. The name of acupoints indicates that the basic characteristics, the spots where qi and blood from the viscera and meridians effuse and infuse; acupoints are usually located in the interstices in the thick muscles or between tendons and bones.
The viscera, meridians and acupoints in the interior and exterior form an organic whole with close relation and harmonious unity. The meridians are connected with the viscera in the interior and with the acupoints in the exterior. The acupoints are the spots where qi from the viscera and meridians "effuse and infuse" as well as "run out and in". The viscera transform qi and blood, while the meridians and acupoints transport and infuse qi and blood. So the viscera form the base for the functional activities of the meridians and acupoints. Under pathological conditions, disorders of the viscera can be reflected on certain acupoints through the meridians. Stimulation of" the acupoints with abnormal manifestations or related acupoints may regulate the functional activities of the corresponding viscera.
Classification of acupoints
Acupoints can usually be classified into meridian acupoints, extraordinary acupoints and Ashi points according to the characteristics of acupoints.
Meridian acupoints, also know as acupoints of the fourteen meridians, refer to the acupoints located on the twelve meridians as well as the governor and conception vessels. Meridian acupoints are the main part in acupoints and are the acupoints frequently used. Meridian acupoints are marked by pertaining to definite meridians, fixed names and location. Altogether there are 361 acupoints.
Extraordinary acupoints refer to the acupoints not included in the acupoints of the fourteen meridians. These acupoints have definite location and names and are effective in treating certain diseases.
The extraordinary acupoints are marked by definite location, fixed names and no pertaining to any meridians. However, the extraordinary acupoints and meridian acupoints are closely related to each other. Firstly, some extraordinary acupoints include meridian acupoints. For example, in Xiyan (EX-LE 5 ), Waixiyan is actually Dubi(ST 35); Bafeng (EX-LE 10) includes Ying-Spring acupoint of the foot meridian. Secondly, some extraordinary acupoints are in fact formed by several meridian acupoints. For example, Siguan is a combination of Hegu (LI4) and Taichong (LR 3), Sihua is a combination of Geshu (BL 17) and Danshu (BL 19). Thirdly, the distri-bution and indication of some extraordinary acupoints are similar to those of the acupoints on certain meridians.
Ashi points actually refer to tenderness spots. Such points are marked by no fixed location, no pertaining meridians and no names.
Ashi points have no fixed location. They are actually tender spots. They often change because the affected regions vary with diseases. Since they do not have fixed location, they have no names and no direct relationship with meridians.
Functions of acupoints
The functions of acupoints are marked by proximal curative effect, distal curative effect and special curative effect.
Proximal curative effect
Proximal curative effect is the common feature of all acupoints. That means that all acupoints can be needled to treat disorders to the regions, tissues and organs around them, especially the acupoints located on the head, face and trunk.
Distal curative effect
Distal curative effect is the feature of the acupoints on the fourteen meridians, especially the acupoints of the twelve meridians located below the knees and elbows which not only can be needled to treat disorders of the regional tissues, but also can be applied to treat the disorders of the viscera, tissues and organs associated with the meridians in their distribution. Some of the meridian acupoints even can be needled to treat the disorders of the whole body. That is what " the indication extends to where the meridian reaches" means. For example, Zusanli (ST 36), located on the shank, can be needled to treat flaccidity and pain of the lower limbs with its proximal curative effect on one hand, and on the other, treat disorders of the spleen and stomach which the stomach meridian (Zusanli (ST 36) is located) connects with or pertains to as well as disorders of the head and face where the meridian runs through. Besides, Zusanli (ST 36) can be used as a key acupoint for healthcare because it can be needled to supplement healthy qi for the body and reinforce the resistance of the body to exert distal curative effect.
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