Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) is holographic in nature. The human body is seen as a microcosm of the world around us. And, more importantly from the perspective of an acupuncturist, each part of the body is also a microcosm, representing the whole body. Many acupuncture micro-systems have evolved around this concept. Auricular acupuncture is probably the best known micro-system. The whole body is mapped on the ear by superimposing the inverted fetus in the womb. Other micro-systems have been identified on the foot, hand, nose, lips, iris, tongue, scalp, teeth and every long bone of the body. My most successful acupuncture treatments have been the result of applying this knowledge. So I was thrilled to come across information on the Abdominal Acupuncture (AA) system – a relatively new Chinese micro-system developed about 25 years ago in China by Dr. Bo Zhiyun.
Abdominal Acupuncture believes that all parts of the body can be treated by focusing a gentle acupuncture treatment on the abdomen. Standard meridian points are used in conjunction with newly identified points. Needling is very superficial and painless. Therapeutic points are mapped on the abdomen by superimposing the image of a turtle over the abdomen with its center on the naval (Ren 8), its head at the epigastrium (Ren 12) and its tail or coccyx at Ren 3. Kidney meridian points are added to treat spinal problems. ST-24 treats disorders of the shoulder and arm. ST-26 treats disorders of the hip and leg. And new points are mapped in relation to these points to treat knee, elbow, hand and foot problems.
Some of the new points are mapped as follows:
Guan Yuan Xia – .3 cun below Ren 4 for lumbosacral and leg pain, swelling, numbness and weakness
Qi Pang – .5 cun lateral to Ren 6 for low back pain and swelling and weakness of legs
Xia Wan Shang – .5 cun above Ren 10 for neck pain and upper limb limited range of motion
Xia Feng Shi Dian – 2.5 cun lateral to Ren 6 for knee pain
Xia Feng Shi Nei Dian – 1.5 cun lateral to Ren 6 for medial knee pain
Xia Feng Shi Xia Dian – 3 cun lateral to Ren 5 for ankle and foot
Shang Feng Shi Dian – .5 cun lateral and superior to St 24 for elbow pain
Shang Feng Wai Dian – 1 cun lateral to ST 24 for wrist joint pain
Shang Feng Shang Dian – 3 cun lateral to Ren 10 for wrist and finger swelling, stiffness and numbness
Most of my information on this system was gleaned from two excellent articles from the Journal of Chinese medicine. “ Abdominal Acupuncture: A Practical Introduction” in the February 2007 issue and “Abdominal Acupuncture: Energetics and Clinical Applications” in the June 2008 issue . Another good article appeared in the August 2009 issue of Acupuncture Today, “A Comprehensive Introduction to Abdominal Acupuncture”.
After reading these articles, I applied the theory to some of my patients with amazing results. In many cases, relief from neck and back pain surpassed other approaches I had used for these people. I was not surprised, as my training with Dr. Richard Tan and the teachings of Master Tung have taught me that the Ren meridian can be used to treat the Du meridian based on the concept of using the front of the body to treat the back. The Kidney meridian will balance the Bladder meridian based on the internal-external relationship of these two organs. But the Abdominal Acupuncture micro-system takes these concepts to a new level.
If you are an acupuncturist looking for another approach to use acupuncture for back pain or acupuncture for neck pain, I highly recommend reading the above articles and using abdominal acupuncture in your clinic!