Sunday, March 4, 2012

Acupuncture myths #1

I believe there are many myths that have the potential to become barriers to good treatment in acupuncture.  I'll start with a very commonly used point - GB-21.  There is no reason I've started with this - I'm not suggesting it is the most important or destructive myth by any means.  It's just somewhere to start.

GB-21 lies on the top of the shoulder, at a point where many people accumulate tension.  It's perhaps the first place you would think to massage someone if you wanted to relax them.  It has a reputation of 'descending Qi' - i.e. you needle or apply pressure to this point, and energy will descend.  In my opinion, this is a great example of a point which has gained a reputation for the wrong reasons.  Many people who suffer from stress will gather tension at GB-21, particularly in our modern-day society - sitting at a desk, typing at a computer in a stressful environment is a reliable way to build 'stuck Qi' at or around GB-21.  And therefore, tension will tend to accumulate in the head, potentially causing headaches, neck strain etc.  In these cases, needling or releasing the point in other ways will likely cause a release of symptoms, and allow 'Qi to descend'.  But that doesn't mean the point itself causes Qi to descend.  What it does - in my opinion - is to allow Qi to escape from the head if there is a blockage or build-up in the area.  Needling here can create a downward movement of Qi, but that does not mean the point causes Qi to descend.  KID-1, SP-6, BL-60 may all be better examples of points that encourage Qi to descend regardless of the general state of Qi in the body.

There are countless examples of similar truisms in modern-day acupuncture.  I will gradually add more examples that occur to me, but if you are a practitioner with a questioning mindset, please feel free to add comments and suggestions.

N.B. Andrew Nugent-Head makes a similar point in one of his excellent free webinars available here.

Please note: this blog is intended for educational and general interest purposes only. If you have any health concerns, please discuss them with your doctor.


  1. Do you know a good acupuncturist in Vancouver? I'm living out here and my back is always hurting. What should I do for that?

  2. Hey Tom, I like this blog. Actually I am bit afraid in going through the process of acupuncture. Heard a lot of this process giving relief from depression or back pain. This has explained me well. Keep updating some more information about the same.

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