By Margarita M. Truong, L.Ac.
There are 11 points on the Hand Taiyin (Lung) channel among them Taiyuan (LU-9), the Yuan-Source point, is located at the wrist joint, in the depression between the radial artery and the tendon of abductor pollicis longus, level with Shenmen (HE-7). It is also the Hui-Meeting point of the vessel and well-known as specific for TCM (Traditional Chinese Medical) pulse diagnosis.
The location of Taiyuan is particular in the fact it is located in the radial groove at the wrist joint right next to the radial artery, and TCM pulse diagnosis is thought to exploit this anatomical feature for the exploration of the pulse qualities for pulse diagnosis. However, because TCM deals with the Qi, the selection of LU-9 for pulse diagnostic purpose must be viewed from a qi hua üÜ âª approach other than from a barely anatomical one.
I. TCM, A PHILOSOPHY MEDICINE THAT DEALS WITH THE QI
TCM deals with the Qi. In the Qi view point, human body’s anatomical basic structure is channel pathway and physiologic construction is Qi and Blood.
The Qi is the process that sustains living beings. In our surroundings in a one-day cycle, the Qi moves in a sine wave pattern: it starts to rise at 3:AM – 5:AM when the Sun is rising in the East. It continues to rise and reaches the extreme at noon time, then begins to fall when the Sun is setting in the West, to reach the bottom at 1:AM – 3:AM, and then starts to rise again at 3:AM – 5:AM for a new day cycle to begin.
In our body, the Qi consistently rises and falls in a twelve-hour circadian clock cycle rhythmically to the movement of the Qi in the surroundings. It starts to rise when flowing through the Lung channel (3:AM – 5:AM), reaches the extreme when flowing through the Heart channel (11:AM – 1:PM), then starts to fall and reaches the bottom when flowing through the Liver channel (1:AM – 3:AM), and then starts to rise again when arriving to the Lung channel as for a new day cycle to begin.
Qi exists everywhere, permeates everything, and there is a communication in term of Qi flow between living things in this cosmic space. Chinese philosophical concept of Qi regards a human being as the most intelligent creature, whose Qi communicates with the one of the Sky above and of the Earth below (êlé“ ë¥ìVínîV_ âAózîVå ãSê_ îVò å‹çsîVèGüÜñÁ). This is known as the Tian Di Ren ìVínêl Theories (the Theory of Heaven-Earth-Man).
According to the Tian Di Ren Theory, an object can be examined on its three levels, an event can be viewed under three stages, or a fact can be influenced by three different forces. That can be three-jiao-level examination in a diagnostic pattern; three positions cun, guan, chi or three layers, superficial, middle, deep in pulse diagnosis; three degrees of severity, excess, normal, deficient of a morbid condition, etc. In a cosmic scale, that can be three levels, Heaven, Human Being, Earth among them the Human Being level, the middle one, is where the Qi from the Heaven and Earth exert their force (êlé“ ë¥ìVínîV_).
The Qi flow in our body is governed by the Lungs.
II. THE LUNGS, THE MEETING POINT OF HUNDRED VESSELS („Ûí©ïSñ¨)
1. Lungs govern the Qi:
One of the five principal functions of the Lung is governing qi and controlling respiration: the Lung is the site of exchange between the Qi within and outside of the body; it takes in clear, natural qi and expels turbid qi.
Thanks to these two functions, “ the Lungs govern the Qi of the whole body ” and “ all qi is subordinate to the Lungs”, the True Qi ê^üÜ is generated. It is the product from the Lung zang, a combination of the Inhaled Air ê¬üÜ from the environment and the Food Qi íJüÜ of the Spleen, and then integrated with the Essential Qi ê∏üÜ of the Kidneys. 2. Lungs, the meeting point of hundred vessels
Elementary Questions (Su Wen) states, “Vessel qi flows into the channel, and channel qi returns to the lung; the lung faces the hundred vessels.” This means that the blood of the whole body must pass through the lung channel and the lung proper (Nigel Wiseman & Feng Ye, p.374).
Anatomically, blood vessels are organized into circulatory routes comprising of systemic circulation and pulmonary circulation. The systemic circulation carries oxygenated blood to specific organs in the body while the pulmonary circulation takes deoxygenated blood to the lungs and returns oxygenated blood to the main circulation stream. Or differently said, the deoxygenated blood returns from body organs & tissues to the pulmonary circulation then passes through the lungs, where the exchange of gas for oxygenation takes place, to be oxygenated then carried to the systemic circulation for a new circulatory cycle to start. It can be stated, using TCM terminology, that “the Lungs govern the Qi”, and “the Lungs are the meeting point of hundred vessels.”
Because TCM pulse diagnosis is to explore the characteristics of the Qi flow inside a human body, the point selected for this purpose must be the one of the greatest Qi force on the channel of the Lung zang (that governs the Qi).
III. TAIYUAN ëæï£ (LU-9), THE SUPREME ABYSS 1. Yuan-Source of a Yin Channel
An acupuncture point on a channel is the site where the Qi of the channel gathers. On each yin channel, the 5-shu points are the 5-phase corresponding points, among them, the Shu-stream point also Yuan-Source point is used to explore the qi of the yin within yin (zang) of this channel. Taiyuan is the Yuan-Source of the Lung channel. One of the indications to use this point is to explore the Qi of the Lung zang.
A Yuan-Source point on a Yang channel, in a contrary, is not used to explore its yang organ but expel pathogenic factors and/or release excess patterns instead; therefore, Yuan-Source points on Yang channels are not considered suitable for pulse diagnosis.
In addition to being a Yuan-Source of a yin channel, because Taiyuan is on a channel where the force of Qi flow in the hundred vessels can be explored, it is on the primary focus for pulse diagnosis. However, this point still acquires some particularly philosophical features to meet the required criteria as the best point for pulse diagnosis.
2. The Philosophy in TCM Pulse Diagnosis
The Yuan-Source points of the zang organs in a human body are Taiyuan (LU-9, Supreme Abyss), Taibai (SP-3, Supreme White), Shenmen (HE-7, Spirit Gate), Taixi (KI-3, Supreme Stream), and Daling (PC-7), three of them, Taiyuan, Shenmen, and Daling are located on the arm.
According to the Tian Di Ren Theory, the Ren level is where the Qi from the Heaven and Earth meet and apply their force. Consider a human body as a whole, the head corresponds to the Tian level, the legs the Di level, and the trunk and/or the upper extremities, the Ren level. In a smaller scale, an upper extremity as a whole, the arm corresponds to the Tian level, the hand the Di level, and the forearm the Ren level. Therefore, the forearm is taken into consideration.
A joint is where the movements of a limb take place thanks to a strong qi flow passes, a point located in a joint must have significant Qi accumulated. There are two joints attached to the forearm, the elbow and the wrist. Because the elbow has narrower range of motion in comparison to the wrist, a point in the wrist joint will meet the criteria.
But, among the three Yuan-Source points on the wrist joint, (Taiyuan, Daling, and Shenmen), Daling is not significant because there is not much Qi gathered in it, based on the narrowest range of motion it has. For the other two candidates, Taiyuan and Shenmen, Taiyuan is better. Why Taiyuan?
3. Geomancy in a Human Body
A xue åä is defined as a geographic site where the Qi from Heaven & Earth gathers. In a plain of land, xue can be found on a hill, mound, etc. On a mountain area, xue can be found in a valley, canyon, gulf, pit, crevice, fissure, etc. The deeper and larger a valley is situated next to a higher mountain, the more significant a xue can be found in this valley.
A human being is a cosmos in miniature. Because of this, many of the acupuncture points are named following the geomancy view point: marsh (LU-5, Cubit Marsh), abyss (LU-9, Supreme Abyss), valley (KI-2, Blazing Valley), stream (KI-3, Supreme Stream), pool (LI-11, Pool at the Crook), mound (ST-26, Outer Mound), valley (ST-43, Sunken Valley), spring (KI-5, Water Spring), sea (HE-3, Lesser Sea), mountain (UB-60, Kunlun Mountain), etc.
For the 3 Yuan-Source of the Yin channels on the arm, LU-9 (Supreme Abyss), PC-7 (Great Mound), and HE-7 (Spirit Gate), every point has its name going by its geographic landmark, the most impressive one is LU-9, Supreme Abyss.
4. Why Taiyuan ëæï£ ?
In a sum, LU-9 is the unique selected candidate for the site for TCM pulse diagnosis because it meets all of the requested criteria, that:
- it is found on the channel, the zang of which has the function of governing the Qi (the Lungs)
- located on the channel where hundred vessels meet; therefore suitable for the exploration of the quality of Qi flow inside the whole body (hui-meeting of vessels)
- endowed an important Qi flow that passed on (yuan-source point on a yin channel) - appropriate for the exploration of pathologic changes (located on the Ren level [of the upper extremity] because diseases are particular for Human Being but not for the Heaven neither the Earth. Therefore the points on the head and leg areas are not selected for pulse diagnosis of disease patterns; some points on the legs are, however, used for a different type of pulse diagnosis)
- “geographically” qualified as an amazing xue: • location: in a larger and deeper “valley” (the radial groove) in comparison to its counterpart HE-7, which is located on the other side of the wrist joint, in a smaller and shallower “valley” (the ulnar groove)
• environmental significance: next to a larger “water stream” (the radial artery) in comparison to a smaller “water stream” on the other side (the ulnar artery)
• environmental significance: located beside a bigger “mountain” (the radial styloid process) in comparison to a smaller one on the other side (the ulnar styloid process)
• environmental significance: its location is nearby another big “mountain”, the thumb, the range of motion of which is larger and wider in comparison to a smaller “mountain”, the little finger at the other side, the range of motion of which is limited
- and finally, the wrist area is the site where a TCM practitioner can elegantly gets in touch with his/her clients for an access to disease pattern differentiation
TCM is a distinguished medical discipline as it is a philosophy medicine. This can be perceived by the way an acupuncture point name is coined. The concept Tian Di Ren ìVínêl from the theory of Harmony of Man with the Nature (Tian Ren He Yi ìVêlçáàÍ) provides a corner stone for the understanding of the idea existing behind an acupuncture point name.
Deadman, Peter et al. – A Manual of Acupuncture – Journal of Chinese Medicine Publications, 2001.
Hu_nh, Minh-__c – N_i Kinh – (roneotype printed, self-published) – HoChiMinh City, Vietnam, 1984.
Hu_nh, Minh-__c – Nan Kinh – (roneotype printed, self-published) – HoChiMinh City, Vietnam, 1984.
Nguy_n, Kh_c-Nhân – M_ch H_c _ông Y (manuscript) – HoChiMinh City, Vietnam, 1986.
Nigel Wiseman & Andrew Ellis – Fundamentals of Chinese Medicine – revised edition – Paradigm Publications, 1996.
Nigel Wiseman & Feng Ye – A Practical Dictionary of Chinese Medicine – 2nd Edition, Fourth Printing, Paradigm Publication, 1998.
Unschuld, Paul U. – Nan Ching, The Classic of Difficult Issues (translated and annoted by); University of California Press Ltd., 1986.
Wengu Zhixin website - http://wengu.tartarie.com/wg/wengu.php?l=intro (3:43PM, 7/1/2010) – San Zi Jing (The Three-Character Classic).
Wu, Liansheng et al – Yellow Emperor’s Canon of Internal Medicine – (Chinese-English Addition) – China Science & Technology Press, Beijing, 1997.
Wikipedia on-line - http://en.wikipedia.org
http://www.yinyanghouse.com/acupuncturepoints/theory_yuanluo#yuandetails (07/03/2010; 8:42AM).
http://www.chinaculture.org/gb/en_madeinchina/2005-10/18/content_74584.htm (07/03/2010; 6:20PM).