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Doctor Yu’s Clinic Notes IV: Some Intriguing Facts of Acupuncture III | 于博士行医手记(四)穴位的妙用 续

It is impossible to cover all the topics of acupuncture points due to the sheer amount of knowledge. There are 365 acupuncture points on the body, and each point has its own complicated functions. Today, I would like to talk about the “Zu San Li” point, which is one of the most commonly known points.

The “Zu San Li” point is located three “cun” (about four fingers width) below the “Dou Bi” points on the outside of the knee of each leg. Years ago, when I was teaching in a TCM (traditional Chinese medicine) college in Vancouver, I found many students had difficulty locating acupuncture points correctly. How do you find this point correctly? It is very easy: to find “Zu San Li” on your right leg, simply wrap your thumb and index of you right hand around the patella bone, and keeping your index aligned with the shinbone. Now your middle finger would be right on the “Zu San Li” point. This point is what I use the most often because it has a very wide range of application.

The “Zu San Li” point can:

1. Treat stomach problems All stomach problems can be treated with this point, because “Zu San Li” is on the “Zu Yang Ming Stomach channel”, and all the “Qi”of the channel is concentrated at the point---the “Li” in “Zu San Li” actually means concentrating. “Qi” on the other hand has many meanings. One is that the ability of body recovery is originated by the “Qi”. Therefore, the “Zu San Li” point is the most important point to heal stomach problems.

2. Treat digestive system problems Conditions of the digestive system such as vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal distention, abdominal pain, or gurgling intestine can all be treated by this point. Therefore there is a traditional saying: “all the stomach and belly problems stay at the Zu San Li point”.

3. Strengthen the overall health All illness and conditions caused by weakness of the body can be treated with this point using needles or moxibustions. Sun, Si Miao, a famous doctor of the Tang dynasty (618-907) wrote in his book, “if you want to be free from illness, you better keep the Zu San Li point warm and dry”---this actually means using moxibustion on the point often. In fact, what he means is to keep the “Zu San Li “ point slightly burnt. This is a good way to keep health.

4. Treat problems caused by an the immune system: These problems can mostly be treated from the “Zu San Li” point, whether it is caused by an weak immune system---such as frequently catching cold or influenza, lacking in strength, or caused by an over-active immune system ---such as all kinds of allergy related illness, rheumatism such as rheumatoid arthritis, ankylosing spondylitis, and systematic lupus erythema, etc..

Because of all these effects, I use “Zu San Li” often in clinical practice. The effect of this point can be found in many classical or modern writings of acupuncture too. In fact, the “Zu San Li” can also be used to treat many more conditions: mental problems such as melancholia, high blood pressure, diabetes, knee pain, back pain, asthma, dripping urination, kidney problem, or recovery after radiotherapy or chemotherapy. These conditions are not necessarily recorded in the classical TCM writings, but all were proved during our actual practice.

Now, have you understood the meaning of the “Zu San Li” point in treating illness? You can massage the point, or use moxibustion by yourself at home. Next week, I will introduce the moxibustion treatment of ” Zu San Li”.





1. 胃部疾病:各种胃部疾病都可以找这个穴位来看,因为它就是足阳明胃经上的穴位,又是胃经之气聚会的地方——足三里的“里”字有聚会通达的意思。那么气是什么意思呢?气的含义很广泛,其中重要的一条就是人体的自愈能力源于气。因此此穴是治疗胃病的最重要穴位。

2. 消化系统的疾病:如呕吐、腹泻、腹胀、腹痛、肠鸣等都可以用这个穴位治疗。因此就有“肚腹三里留”这样的说法。

3. 强壮第一要穴:各种虚弱性的疾病或身体状态,可以在这个穴位上针刺或艾灸。唐代著名医家孙思邈留下名言:“若要安,三里常不干”。意思是经常艾灸足三里,让足三里经常保持轻度烫伤的状态可保身体健康。

4. 治疗各类免疫系统疾病:一是免疫力低下的疾病。身体弱,经常感冒、乏力,或免疫细胞活力低的各类病症。二是免疫力过高的疾病,如各类过敏性疾病,风湿病如类风湿关节炎、强直性脊柱炎、系统红斑狼疮等。

除这些功效以外,根据我的临床经验,足三里还可以用于:忧郁症及精神系统疾病,,高血压, 糖尿病, 膝关节痛,腰痛,哮喘,小便淋漓不尽,肾病,放化疗后的治疗等等,真是数不胜数。这么多的功效是我临床上常用足三里治疗的主要原因,许多古书上也都散在记载。


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