TCM: Insights of a (Almost) Senior Acupuncturist
Miriam Lee was one of the first acupuncturists in the USA and was responsible for acupuncture being legalized in California. She also wrote a book called 'Insights of a Senior Acupuncturist' where she described her commonly used acupuncture points and how powerful they are.
Only amounting to five individual acupoints, Miriam used LI4, LU7, LI11, ST36 and SP6. These acupoints make a lot of sense for the following reasons:
LI4 - Key/Command for any Head & Face concerns (mirrors its Yangming pair, Stomach, on the face), Clears Heat, Source acupoint
LU7 - Key/Command for Head & Neck concerns (mirrors its Taiyang pair, Urinary Bladder, on the nape and occiput), Connecting acupoint, Tonifies Lung Qi
LI11 - He-Sea ('affects the organ directly'), Clears Heat, mirrors abdominal area (Yangming pair would essentially be ST25 - Front-Mu of LI - pretty cool!)
ST36 - Key/Command for any Abdominal concerns (mirrors its interior/exterior-related pair, Spleen; as well as channel-to-its-own-channel, Stomach), He-Sea, best tonification acupoint on the body
SP6 - 3-Yin Channel Meeting, Tonifies Yin, Tonifies Spleen Qi, Drains Damp, Calms the Shen
As we can see, there are a lot of bases covered with these five powerful acupoints. It is said that Miriam developed this combination because she often only had time, due to her popularity, to offer quick treatments to her patients. She found these acupoints helped many patients regardless of their diagnosis.
If I may be so bold, I would like to offer up my top five acupoints that I commonly use in clinic and why I use them. I do this in hopes that it will help you create your own go-to grouping. I truly believe in the Pareto principle - where an Italian economist came up with the 80/20-rule. This 80/20 rule can be perhaps described in the acupuncture field with: 80% of the time in clinic we will use 20% of 409 acupoints; and 20% of the time in clinic we will use the other 80%.
Therefore, it's important to have access in our minds to all the acupoints and their functions, but according to the 80/20-rule we likely will only use about 80 acupoints on most clinic days.
Here are my top five acupoints and why I use them on a regular basis:
GB20 - I use this acupoint because it's great for any EENT/head concerns. It's also great for headache. I like to combine GB20 with GB21 for any neck and trapezius discomfort. For any other facial concerns I like to combine GB20 with the next acupoint on my list.
LI4 - Not only is this a Key/Command acupoint for Head & Face, but it also can Clear Heat. Clearing Heat on the Large Intestine Channel involves moving the stool - which is great for everybody. LI4 is great with LV3 as I will explain below.
SP10 - Likely due to the fact I treat many menstrual and fertility concerns I use SP10 a lot. It Tonifies Blood, tells the Spleen to Hold Blood in the Vessels, and Moves Blood - Breaking Up Blood Stasis. I like to move Liver Qi when using SP10.
SP6 - *does everything* - but, seriously, I can't go wrong (unless the patient is pregnant) using SP6. It's great for digestion, Yin Deficiency and it Calms the Shen - which can aid with sleep. And just like moving the bowels, everybody can use waking up feeling rested more often. SP6 and ST36 are best buddies - they hang out together all the time.
LV3 - It's the 21st century and it's all about the stress. LV2 is a close second, but I like the nourishing and moving nature of this Source acupoint. Moving Liver Qi is such an important part of our Chinese medicine. It's like the Magnesium of the Naturopathic Doctor world. Lastly, using LI4 and LV3 together opens all Channels and Collaterals helping patients with any general aches and pains they may have. May your Qi go free!