Acupuncture Points Guide

    Welcome to our comprehensive acupuncture points guide. Click the links listed here to view our visual meridian guide, or continue reading the page below where we have a comprehensive overview of the art of acupuncture.

    The 12 Primary Meridians

    Heart

    Pericardium

    Lung

    Spleen

    Liver

    Kidney

    Small Intestine

    Large Intestine

    Triple Energizer

    Stomach

    Gallbladder

    Bladder

    The 2 Major Extraordinary Vessels

    Conception Vessel

    Governing Vessel

    The 6 Minor Extraordinary Vessels

    Penetrating Vessel

    Girdling Vessel

    Yin Linking Vessel

    Yin Motility Vessel

    Yang Linking Vessel

    Yang Motility Vessel

    You can also click here to view all meridians on an expanded page.

    About Acupuncture

    Intro to Energy Healing

    Energy healing, including acupuncture and acupressure, is a subset of alternative medicine that incorporates the energetic form of the human body into a comprehensive approach to healing medical problems and achieving vibrant health.

    There are many different 'levels' of energy systems that are addressed by different alternative healing methods. The two most well-known energy systems are the chakra system and the acupuncture meridian system. There are also healing methods that describe the emotions and the mind as different levels of energetic bodies that are simultaneously present within the physical body as well.

    While all energy systems in the human body are ultimately connected, they are also differentiated by specifics of their description and function. This is similar to how the circulatory system of the physical body is connected to the nervous system and the digestive system, but each has a different function.

    In this guide, we'll be describing the acupuncture meridian system in depth. We will not address other energy systems such as the chakra system or the emotions/mind in particular.

    Acupuncture Theory

    The acupuncture meridians of the human body are a system of energy pathways that flows throughout the human body. These flows of energy are not on a physical level but are generally recognized as being somewhere between the etheric body (the "soul") and the physical body.

    The meridian pathways are the pathways along which the flow of vital life energy, known in traditional Chinese culture as Qi or Chi, passes from the soul to the physical body. This flow of energy is what sustains the health and wellbeing of the physical body.

    When the flow of this energy is disrupted, negative health effects eventually manifest in the physical body. When the proper flow of energy is restored to normal, positive health and vibrancy are also restored to the physical body.

    The healing method of acupuncture is based on the ages-old discovery that it is possible for us to directly influence the flow of this vital life energy through the meridians. Thus, it is possible for us to use our own internal life energy to heal our body of physical conditions that would normally be required to be treated by a physician via medicine or surgery.

    The Origins of Acupuncture?

    The acupuncture theory of energy meridians has been around for thousands of years. Nobody is quite sure when or where it originated, but evidence suggests that it has existed since before 200BC.

    The oldest known document discussing the practice of acupuncture is a book that was written sometime between 500 and 200BC known as Huangdi Neijing, translated as The Inner Canon of the Yellow Emperor.

    Since this document describes acupuncture in detail as an already-existing system of healing, it is obvious that acupuncture existed before the book was written. This means that acupuncture could theoretically have already existed for hundreds or even thousands of years before this book was composed.

    Acupuncture has been a widespread phenomenon all over the Asian continent for thousands of years. It has been used historically in China, Japan, Korea, and elsewhere.

    The Discovery of Acupuncture Points

    Acupuncture points and meridians were most likely discovered by spiritually hypersensitive individuals who could actually see the energy movements through the meridian pathways in the human body.

    There are many individuals alive today who are capable of seeing energetic forces such as auras around the human body. There are also some individuals who claim to have the ability to see energy movements inside the human body, some of which could be within the acupuncture meridians.

    Just as individuals alive today have this ability, so too did some people alive in the past have it, and those people would have undoubtedly investigated the energies that they saw and how it related to the health of the human body.

    It is likely that the first development in using the Chi energy system for healing the body was the art of acupressure. Simple application of pressure via the fingers is enough to stimulate the movement of energy through the meridian pathways and promote healing. Only later did the use of needles in stimulating these points come into use.

    Perhaps the acupressure practitioners of the past had the desire to stimulate more points at once than their two hands could touch, and so they developed needles to be able to pierce multiple points at once? Or perhaps the original acupressure practitioners discovered that piercing the skin effects the flow of energy more strongly than just applying pressure to it with fingers.

    Due to our lack of historical documents regarding the matter, we are unsure of exactly how acupressure and acupuncture were discovered and developed into complete healing systems. All we know is that by the time of the publishing of the Yellow Emperor's book on Chinese medicine, acupuncture was already widely in use and considered a valid healing art by a significant number of people.

    Naming and Numbering the Acupuncture Points

    Unfortunately, because the history of acupuncture stretches so far into the past, much of its historical origins are lost to us. This includes the development of the naming system for many of the more than 360 acupuncture points in the body.

    We do know that at least some of the points were named according to the type of diseases that they were most often used in treating. For example, in Chinese culture a shen disorder was a disorder of the mind or spirit.

    Acupuncture points commonly used for treating shen disorders were named accordingly, such as heart meridian point number 7, shen men, or governing vessel point 11, shen dao.

    Along with a unique name for each point, we also have a unique number for each point that is much easier and simpler to learn. The numbering scheme simply follows the points along each meridian. The first point in the heart meridian is Heart 1, and the last point is Heart 9.

    The vast majority of historical acupuncture sources all use the same numbering scheme for the points. However, there is only one conflict in the numbering scheme: the point numbers along the bladder meridian.

    The bladder meridian is unique in that it breaks into two separate parallel pathways as it travels along the back of the body. The pathways then rejoin at both ends of this parallel travel. Because of this meridian is not simply a straight line of points like the other meridians, some academic sources number these points differently.

    You can avoid confusion when talking about the bladder meridian points by using the actual point names, which academic sources agree on, instead of the point numbers, which some disagree on.

    What Can Acupuncture Treat?

    Theoretically, acupuncture can be used to treat almost any negative health condition that the human body is capable of experiencing. This is because the general view of the acupuncture methodology of healing is that bodily health problems are caused by a lack of proper flow of vital life energy throughout the body.

    By using acupuncture, or another energy healing technique, we can balance our internal flow of Chi and slowly restore vibrant health to the physical body.

    Because there are so many health problems for which modern science has yet to produce definitive cures, alternative medicines such as acupuncture are often sought by desperate patients for whom science cannot provide a solution. This has resulted in acupuncture being used to treat just about every health condition under the sun.

    Acupuncture does not necessarily work for everyone. Some patients won't stick with acupuncture treatments long enough to properly balance their energy. Others might be too far along in the disease process to reverse with energetic healing. And it is possible that some health conditions are simply caused by non-energetic sources of distress on the human body.

    For example, Gary Craig, the founder of EFT - an offspring of acupressure therapy - once recalled in a seminar a time that EFT did not work for relieving a problem of frequent urination and weak bladder that he was suffering from.

    After months of attempting to treat the problem via energy healing but only receiving temporary relief, he eventually heard about allergic reactions to Teflon pans that could cause that problem. After clearing out all the Teflon pans in his kitchen, his problem went away.

    This is one small but modern example of how energy healing may not be able to fix every problem in our lives. Sometimes the source of our health problems is an energy imbalance within our body, but sometimes the source is something completely different.

    My personal recommendation for everyone that is suffering from a chronic health condition is - why not try acupuncture, acupressure, or EFT therapy to see if it works for you?

    Acupuncture is generally widely available and relatively affordable compared to many other forms of modern healthcare. If you are on a tight budget, you can learn self-applied acupressure or EFT (Emotional Freedom Techniques), both of which are free to use on yourself any time you want after you've learned the basics.

    Scientific Evidence For Acupuncture

    Despite the skepticism portrayed of alternative medicine in popular media, there is a surprising amount of scientific evidence for the effectiveness of acupuncture.

    Even though acupuncture works with invisible energy within our body that is not directly observable, many studies have attempted to observe the effects of acupuncture on healing the human body, and many have done so successfully.​

    A quick search of the US science archives shows more than 25,000 scientific papers involving acupuncture in some way. I have taken the time to read through many of them and list some interesting ones below.​

    Listed below are a few scientific resources that have come out in favor of the efficacy of acupuncture therapy:

    Acupuncture for back pain: a meta-analysis found that acupuncture, and some other forms of alternative medicine, are effectively at relieving lower back pain.

    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28192793

    Acupuncture for chronic pain and depression: a meta-analysis found that acupuncture is effective at treating chronic pain of various types as well as depression.

    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28121095

    Acupuncture for smoking: a study of cigarette smokers who tried acupuncture found that acupuncture treatments helped patients smoke fewer cigarettes and increased their chances of total smoking cessation.

    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28003848

    Acupuncture for fibromyalgia: a study of fibromyalgia sufferers found that acupuncture plus moxibustion treatments were more effective at relieving fibromyalgia-caused pain than two different painkiller drugs.

    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27348913

    Acupuncture for infertility: a study of women seeking to have children found that those who received acupuncture became pregnant more quickly than those who did not.

    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27242910

    Acupuncture for stress and anxiety during pregnancy: a study of pregnant women found that acupuncture, and several other alternative therapies, were effective at reducing stress and anxiety in pregnant women.

    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27479023

    Acupuncture for female reproductive health: a study found that acupuncture was effective at increasing rates of pregnancy in women who suffered from polycystic ovarian syndrome and decreasing rates of ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome.

    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28077366

    Acupuncture for nutritional absorption: a study of obese patients with iron deficiency found that acupuncture increased the rate of intestinal iron absorption.

    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28229980

    Acupuncture for weight loss: a meta-analysis of previous studies found that acupuncture is effective in helping patients lose weight and keep it off.

    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28231746

    Acupuncture for PTSD: a meta-analysis found that acupuncture is effective at relieving symptoms of posttraumatic stress disorder.

    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28151093

    Acupuncture for skin health: a meta-analysis of studies found that acupuncture was effective at treating a wide range of skin conditions.

    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26115180

    Acupuncture for competitive anxiety: a study on student athletes found that acupuncture was effective at reducing anxiety before a sports competition.

    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28199216

    Acupuncture for migraines: a study of migraine sufferers who received acupuncture treatment found that acupuncture reduced the recurrence rate of migraines.

    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28241154

    Acupuncture for tinnitus: a study of tinnitus sufferers found that acupuncture provided short term relief from tinnitus.

    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27210823

    Acupuncture for stress reduction: a study of middle aged women who received acupuncture treatments found that various biological indicators of stress, including cortisol levels, were reduced.

    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28181975

    Acupuncture for academic success: a study of students who received acupuncture treatments for various health conditions found that their grades in school improved.

    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25185363

    Acupuncture for nausea and vomiting: a study found that acupuncture was effective at reducing nausea and vomiting in chemotherapy patients.

    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28270726

    Acupuncture for asthma: a meta-analysis of studies found that acupuncture is effective at treating some symptoms of asthma.

    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26978427

    Acupuncture for gout: a meta-analysis of studies found that acupuncture is effective at reducing some symptoms of gouty arthritis.

    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27847529

    Acupuncture for high blood pressure: a study of patients who were already taking medication for high blood pressure found that the addition of acupuncture treatments produced significant results in helping reduce high blood pressure.

    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23724695

    Acupuncture for menstrual cramps: a study found that acupuncture was effective in reducing pain associated with the menstrual cycle.

    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23684618

    Acupuncture for sinusitis: a study found that acupuncture was more effective at providing long lasting relief from sinus infection than antibiotics.

    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/7183207

    Scientific Evidence Against Acupuncture

    In the interest of being fair and honest, during my time researching acupuncture studies, I also found some that did not conclude that acupuncture was effective compared to placebo.

    However, I did not find any study indicating that acupuncture had a detrimental effect on any health condition, just some studies in which no beneficial effect was observed.

    Acupuncture for major depression: a meta-analysis of studies found that acupuncture is not very effective at treating major depression.

    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28083417

    Acupuncture for joint pain: a review of studies found that there is a lack of evidence for acupuncture's effectiveness at reducing joint pain in the knee.

    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28138766

    This is despite the fact that many clinicians prescribe acupuncture for joint pain.

    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26140271

    Acupuncture for menopause: a review of studies found that there is insufficient evidence that acupuncture is effective at treating menopause.

    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27929271

    Acupuncture for insomnia: a review of studies found that acupuncture may be helpful at relieving insomnia, but the evidence is insufficient to make a definitive conclusion.

    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27578355

    Another review of studies found the same: that acupuncture may be helpful for insomnia but results are inconclusive.

    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27531549

    Acupuncture for autism: a meta-analysis of studies found that acupuncture showed promising results for treatment of autism symptoms, but also found that more definitive studies are necessary to prove acupuncture's effectiveness in this area.

    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22203876

    Acupuncture for uterine fibroids: a meta-analysis of studies found that there is a lack of evidence of acupuncture's effectiveness at treating uterine fibroids.

    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20091625

    However, one case study is available in which a female patient who received electro acupuncture experienced reduced symptoms of uterine fibroids.

    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21561613

    Acupuncture for rheumatoid arthritis: a meta-analysis of studies found that the results of using acupuncture to relieve arthritis pain are mixed. The study calls for more analysis to produce a definitive conclusion on acupuncture's effectiveness in treating arthritis.

    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18710899

    Acupuncture for seasonal allergies: a review of studies found that the effectiveness of acupuncture for relieving allergy symptoms is mixed. Acupuncture may be effective at treating allergies, but more study is required.

    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19441597

    Common Questions

    These are some of the most popular questions by newcomers about acupuncture.

    1. What actually happens in an acupuncture session?

    On your first visit, an acupuncture practitioner will discuss your health issues and your desired health outcomes. The practitioner examine your body for symptoms of energy distress and will use his formal training, as well as intuition based on past clinical experience, in coming up with a treatment plan.

    For needling, you will lay down on a massage table and the practitioner will insert needles in the appropriate locations. You may be required to remove some articles of clothing for the needling process. Depending on the practitioner, they may also suggest incorporating other aspects of traditional Chinese medicine. Treatments like moxibustion and aromatherapy are common. Some practitioners may suggest that you also use certain herbal remedies between acupuncture treatments.

    2. Does acupuncture actually work?

    Acupuncture is effective at balancing your internal flow of energy. By balancing this energy, you promote natural healing of the body. In cases where imbalanced energy is the primary cause of your health issues, acupuncture may provide a complete recovery from those problems. In some cases, however, acupuncture is not effective at treating a health problem because the source of the problem is not energetic in nature but is caused by an outside force.

    3. Is acupuncture painful?

    Most acupuncture needling is not painful. You may feel slight discomfort as the needle is inserted. If you experience pain, tell your practitioner and he will adjust his needling technique accordingly.

    4. What are the benefits of acupuncture?

    Acupuncture balances the internal flow of energy within the body, promoting natural healing of health problems and optimal wellness of the body and mind. Acupuncture and other energy healing techniques often provide lasting relief where traditional scientific medicine has failed to do so.

    5. Are there negative side effects?

    Acupuncture is not known to have serious negative side effects, and stories of acupuncture making an illness worse are extremely rare. One of the only common negative side effects is temporary fatigue. Energetic healing techniques often cause patients to feel very tired immediately after the treatment. Usually this fatigue is a sign that a positive health result has been achieved and most patients feel better after waking up the next morning.

    6. How much does acupuncture cost?

    Acupuncture prices tend to depend on your location. Clinics in rural areas may charge as low as $40 per session, whereas popular clinics in dense cities may charge up to $150 per session. Some practitioners sell packages of multiple treatments for a discounted price. Many offer additional services for an extra cost, such as massage, Chinese herbal medicine, or aromatherapy. Some acupuncturists offer community sessions in which you are treated alongside other patients at the same time for a reduced price. You may also be able to find cheaper acupuncture treatments by checking at a local acupuncture school and allowing student practitioners to treat you.

    7. Is acupuncture covered by health insurance?

    You will have to check your specific health insurance plan to find out. Some insurance plans do cover acupuncture treatments. Some may require you to be referred to an acupuncturist by a doctor.

    How an acupuncture treatment plan works.

    How does an acupuncturist decide what your treatment plan will look like? That depends on that particular practitioner's training and methodology.

    Most practitioners will be familiar with various standard treatment regiments for different health issues. These treatment plans will include common acupuncture points used for certain illnesses and symptoms, as well as an expected time frame in which an average patient should begin to experience relief.

    Treatment plans for most health conditions will involve multiple sessions of acupuncture over several weeks. For chronic conditions, you may be prescribed several months' worth of acupuncture sessions.

    Experienced practitioners will also be aware that energy healing techniques such as acupuncture are definitely a "go with the flow" method of healing.

    Although there are standardized treatment plans for most health problems, there is also a necessity for the practitioner to adjust his treatment to the energy imbalances that he is able to observe in your body during the treatment session.

    Ultimately, your treatment plan will be personalized based on your individual illness and the results that are achieved session by session.

    About the Acupuncture Meridians

    There are 12 primary meridians in the human body, and 2 secondary meridians known as the major energy vessels. These 14 meridians together contain 361 acupuncture points that can be used in acupuncture, acupressure, and other energy therapies to influence the energy in your body.

    There are also 6 minor energy vessels that don't contain their own unique points, but just transfer energy between points located in the other meridians.

    This page contains a complete visual guide to all of these 20 meridian pathways and the 361 acupuncture points that lie along them.

    The acupuncture system of the human body is divided into a few different types of energy pathways that each have specific characteristics and roles to play in the energy body. These types are listed below in order from “most” important to “least” important, or rather from largest energy pathways to smallest energy pathways.

    You can think of the acupuncture pathways listed below as if we are listing all of the types of roads in a large city: first you would list the major freeways, then the highways, then the four-lane avenues, then the two-lane roads, then the one-lane roads, then finally the dirt pathways that weave between the countryside and connect all of the remaining land.

    To clarify more exactly the differences for you, I will list the types of energy pathways in order of importance:

    The 12 Primary Meridians - Each of these meridians is associated with a body organ. They are the major energy pathways that direct energy throughout the body.

    The 2 Major Extraordinary Vessels - The extraordinary vessels primarily act as balancing agents and pathways of distributing the energy flow that originates from the 12 primary meridians.

    The 6 Minor Extraordinary Vessels - These pathways do not have their own acupuncture points, but are composed of acupuncture points from the other pathways. In other words, some acupuncture points are part of multiple energy pathways in the body, similar to how a single road intersection is a point that connects two different intersecting roads.

    The 15 Major Connecting Vessels - These vessels are points at which a lesser energy channel separates from the main channel, and connects the main channel to its Yin/Yang opposite main channel. This can be thought of as a small road that exits off of a main highway (a primary or extraordinary energy meridian) and then connects to another main highway (another energy meridian), allowing energy to flow between the two. There are 12 that are associated with the 12 primary meridians, 2 that are associated with the 2 major extraordinary meridians, and 1 "great connecting vessel" of the spleen.

    The Various Lesser Connecting Vessels - These are smaller and less important connecting vessels that serve to distribute energy from the main pathways to the rest of the body tissue that is not along a main pathway. These could be likened to small dirt roads that connect the countryside to the more important and larger paved roads of the city. These lesser connecting vessels are differentiated into Minute connecting vessels, Superficial connecting vessels, and Blood connecting vessels.

    The Channel Divergences - These pathways are called "divergences" because they separate, or 'diverge' from the primary meridian pathways at various locations along the pathways that are not located at specific points. The channel divergences can be thought of as an internal spiderweb of energy pathways that connect different larger meridians to each other. While the connecting vessels mentioned above are located near the outer portions of the body (ie near the skin), the channel divergences are located further inside the body and thus would be hard to display accurately in a simple 2D diagram.

    The guide below features diagrams of the 12 primary meridians, the 2 major extraordinary vessels, and the 6 minor extraordinary vessels.

    There are a few simple reasons for leaving the other energy pathways out of these diagrams. The first is that the 20 pathways just mentioned are generally considered to be the most important pathways of energy in the body, similar to how a large highway would be considered more important to the people of a city than a small one-lane road off in the countryside.

    If there is a problem with a large energy pathway, you will most likely suffer much greater negative health effects in the body than if there is a problem with the energy in a much smaller connecting vessel pathway.

    The second and perhaps more obvious reason for not creating diagrams of the other pathways is simply that they are very complex and thus hard to display in 2D format. This is because many of the other pathways are located further inside the body than the 20 meridians mentioned.

    This would make documenting their exact location in a diagram more difficult and confusing, similar to how drawing an accurate representation of the exact 3D layout of the small intestines would be much more difficult than drawing a simple picture of an arm and fingers.