Acupuncture Measurements . . . Location, Location, Location.

A question I am frequently asked is “how do you find the hundreds of acupuncture points on the body?”

In the Compendium of Acupuncture and Moxabustion it was written “Methods of locating points are based on standard measurements. An acupuncturist must have a clear understanding of these measurements, the patients build and a mastery of the anatomical landmarks of the body”.

The three main factors involved in point location are: proportional measurements, anatomical land marks and finger measurement.

Proportional measurement has the widths or lengths of the various parts of the human body divided into standardized numbers of equal units of proportion. These standards are applicable to any patient regardless of age, sex, width or height.

Anatomical Triangulation is the use of anatomical landmarks for point location. There are two types of landmarks, the first are fixed landmarks that include sense organs, hair, navel and the prominences and depressions of bones. For instance the point at the tip of the nose is Suliao or Du 20, the point at the center of the navel is Shenque or Ren 8.

Photo of Flexed Arm  showing Quchi or Large Intestine 11 acupuncture point.
Flexed arm showing Quchi or Large Intestine 11 acupuncture point.

The second uses of anatomical landmarks are moveable or require movement to find. To locate Quchi or Large Intestine 11, the arm is flexed and a crease appears at the bend of the elbow, the point is at the outer part of the crease on the outside. When the palm is flat and the thumb and forefinger are held together there is a bump of flesh between them, the apex of that lump is Hegu, Large Intestine 4.

Finger measurement; the width of the first joint of the thumb is referred to as 1 cun (pronounced tsun). This is the standard measurement used in both proportional measurement and anatomical triangulation. The distance from the center of the knee to the tip of the outside ankle bone is 16 cun, the distance between the inside crease of the elbow to the wrist is 12 cun.

Using these measurements we can locate points using references like; the acupoint Neiguan, Pericardium 6 is located 2 cun above the wrist crease between the two tendons.

There are many shortcuts we learn to find the hundreds of acupuncture points in TCM College but the bottom line is that to be an effective acupuncturist it is all about location, location, location.

Yours in good health,

Robert Kienitz, DTCM

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