Acupuncture Points for Challenging Times

By Neil R. Gumenick - March 10, 2021
Classical Five-Element Acupuncture: Three Powerful Treatment Strategies

By Professor Neil R. Gumenick

In the midst of the current pandemic, isolation, economic, social, and political turmoil, we are facing unprecedented stress at the levels of the mind and spirit. Stress on these levels invariably take their toll on the physical body as well. I offer the following points as among the most useful I have incorporated in my treatments to support patients during these times of crisis.

Heart 1—Utmost Source

Belonging to the element Fire, the Heart Official is associated with warmth, laughter and enthusiasm. Isolation and the inability to interact physically with friends and family has placed a huge strain on the Fire element in vast numbers of us. Just as the summer season, associated with the Fire element, brings blossoming and maturing—the flowering of all the seeds planted in the spring—love is the blossoming of a human being. It is indeed who we are in full “bloom”. Nowhere is such love felt more deeply than the Heart. Love is the current that connects us to each other as one, reaching the furthest corners of the kingdom of the body/mind/spirit with each heartbeat.

When the Supreme Controller falls sick, is jarred from the throne, or is deprived of the warmth of human interaction, there is little joy to be found. Without the Heart securely on its throne, there is no one to guide, or to love, or lead. There is no one to give the orders or to set boundaries. There is little or no warmth, enthusiasm or happiness. Life seems to have no purpose or meaning. Indeed, with the unforeseen and abrupt changes to all our lives since March of 2020, many of us have been severely jarred. Without a wise and enlightened leader, every Official (organ/function) will cry out in distress and symptoms can arise anywhere. Fear and panic may ensue. Rebellion and eventual resignation may result.

The love we receive from the Fire element bathes every part of our lives. It warms our spirit and gives us an inner communion with the love of the Divine. It allows us to share in the spirit that pervades and sustains everything, to feel the warmth of relationships and to feel at one with others. When we are connected to that source, we feel that love: the love of self and the love of others. This point restores the Heart’s resilience and reconnects us to that source when the connection is broken. It aligns the Supreme Controller, the Divine within, to the Divine without—one and the same. Thus, even in the midst of challenge, there can be hope; there can be love and compassion that is not dependent on outer events. We can use this point, applicable to patients of any elemental imbalance, when supreme control needs to be restored to the Heart, when this Official has lost its connection. Typically, the patient in need of this point may feel internal chaos, uncertainty, panic, isolation, abandonment, depression, inability to love him/herself or others, and is struggling to survive.

Kidney 25: Spirit Storehouse

This point is a reservoir of nourishment specifically for the spirit. It is a deep spiritual spring: a reserve on which to call in hard times. Protracted illness, anxiety, pain, loss of safety and security on which one had come to depend, financial stress—discomfort at any level tends to wear down one’s spiritual reserves. Though there is a flicker of spirit remaining, the patient needing this point will be nearly empty—lacking the will, drive, or determination to carry on. Spirit fuels the body and animates the mind. This point can fill the storehouse. Many times, what a patient describes as “fatigue” for which there is no physical explanation, is a call for this storehouse to be filled.

Urinary Bladder 38 Rich for the Vitals Correspondence (in some texts, this point corresponds to UB 43)

This point directly enhances the richness, quality, and vitality of the blood. Associated with the heart protector (or pericardium), it brings joy, warmth, vitality, and richness to every level. It is considered for any long-term chronic disease, blood deficiency, poor circulation, sluggishness in body or mind; lacking of joy, warmth, passion, and love. It is akin to putting high-octane fuel into the body, mind, and spirit. It is used for anemia at any level: physical sluggishness, mental fatigue, and coldness of the spirit. The fears and anxiety that so many face in these challenging times drains the richness and warmth that is needed to meet and thrive during this crisis. Every organ and function, deprived of this source of fuel will ultimately suffer. Rich red blood brings strength, power, and vibrancy to every cell, organ, function, and level. Thus, we consider it for patients who need enthusiasm, passion, vitality, and warmth.

This point can receive more moxa than any other on the whole of the body. In severe cases of depletion such as with cancers, chemotherapy, immune system diseases, chronic fatigue, chronic depression, and weaknesses of old age (to name a few), we can begin with 5-7 small direct moxa cones, bilaterally, and increase on each visit. For example, we may begin with 5-7, do 15 on the next visit, then 21, 31, 41, etc., until we reach the upper limit, followed by needle tonification. In keeping with the practice of using odd numbers of moxas, this writer uses 49 as the upper limit. Then, if still warranted, we could start at 5-7 again and continue building up to 49. However, once the pulses and other diagnostic indicators showed a strong and successful response, there would be no need to further increase.

GV (Du) 12 Body Pillar

A pillar is a tall vertical structure that provides essential support. We can observe that in ruins, such as those of ancient Greece and Rome, the walls and ceilings are gone, yet the pillars endure. We can liken a pillar to the central pole that holds up a tent. It must be firmly rooted in the earth, straight, and without cracks in order to withstand winds or bumps lest the entire structure collapse. In our bodies, the vertebral column is akin to such a pillar. We have a physical body, a mental body, and a spiritual body, all of which need strength and support to remain upright in the face of the challenges we currently face. Thus, we tend to use this point for a patient who easily crumbles or collapses at any level, who is unable to take feedback, who is overly vulnerable, who too easily gives in to temptations and needs straightening up. This point confers the ability to stand tall and endure.

(English translations of point names are those taught by Professor J.R. Worsley and published in Traditional Chinese Acupuncture Volume 1 Meridians and Points, J.R. Worsley, Published by Element Books 1982.)

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Neil R. Gumenick

Professor Neil R. Gumenick is Founder and Director of the Institute of Classical Five-Element Acupuncture Inc., which offers training to acupuncturists, physicians, and students of Oriental Medicine in this profound system of body/mind/spirit medicine. He has maintained a private practice in Santa Monica, CA, since 1981 and is a professor at Yo San University. Neil holds three degrees and an advanced teaching credential from The College of Traditional Acupuncture (UK), awarded by the late Professor J.R. Worsley. Neil was recipient of the 2007 AAAOM Pioneers and Leaders in Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine Award, and is one of the world’s foremost practitioners, teachers, and writers on the subject of Classical Five-Element Acupuncture.

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