Acupuncture Points Chart

How It's Used in Traditional Chinese Medicine

By Paul J.O'Brien
B.A., N.C.E.H.S., Dip. Acu., Cert Clin. Med. M.T.C.M.C.I., M.C.Th.A.

The Acupuncture Points Chart is a pretty standard poster found in nearly every acupuncture clinic in the world. It's a great educational tool for starting conversation with patients, and often a beautiful artwork in it's own right. In fact, I've actually drawn and sketched my own. 

In this article I'll share a little bit more background on those charts and why they are useful. :-D 

Acupuncture is a traditional form of Chinese medicine that people have used for years to treat diseases, alleviate pain, and manage complications in the body. Via this technique, the practitioner uses small needles to activate acupuncture points on meridians running from the head to toes, which stimulates the body to induce the natural healing process.

Although acupuncture is effective and safe (lacks harsh chemicals that are common in contemporary medicine), memorizing the location of all points and the body systems or organs they reference is an arduous task. This is a major reason why should buy a good acupuncture chart and then use it to find points of intervention during treatment. Read on to learn how the acupuncture points chart is used in Chinese medicine.

How to Read an Acupuncture Points Chart

The professional acupuncture practitioner will often follow these steps to use or interpret an acupuncture chart well:

1. They have to evaluate the person you are contemplating treating. Understand the root cause of his or her problem before you reach for your chart or stick a pin in his or her body.

There are a number of ways the acupuncturist does this...for example when a patient complains of a headache, joint pain, or any other complication of the body, the first thing that you should do is to check his or her background. What are his or her routines? How does his or her body function? Symptoms such as poor appetite, urination patterns, and the presence of chills or fevers can help you to narrow your guesses of a few possible causes. Using the results of your interview as a guide, the acupuncturist will examine the patient by palpating various body parts (wrists, etc.) to identify pressure points and or confirm your diagnosis.

After evaluating and identifying the root cause of your patient’s problem(s), they will then use an acupuncture point chart to identify points of interventions, and show them to the patient, fully explaining their use and purpose, before administering any treatment. This is not as complicated as it sounds.

According to traditional practitioners of acupuncture, the body has 12 primary channels connected to the respiratory, digestive, cardiovascular, nervous, urinary, skeletal, and reproductive system among others. These channels have acupuncture points, influential points, command points, and sea points of major organs in all systems that when activated, stimulate the body to induce self-healing or manage symptoms of incurable complications.

On the acupuncture chart, these channels are presented as yin and yang pathways, which run from the head through the arms to the legs. On the other hand, the points are presented as traditional number-letter combinations that are relatively easy to memorize and interpret with a little practice. A well trained acupuncturist can simply identify the location of the organ that you are targeting with their intervention and then use clinical measurements such as the cun to find the best acupuncture point.

Acupuncture is powerful and by far one of the most effective traditional Chinese techniques for relieving pain and treating ailment, but it can be dangerous if not done correctly. It is advisable that you seek out a highly qualified specialist with several years of training - not a quick one day course! 

You can learn more about the various conditions acupuncture can treat here - and I'll even mention a few key points on the acupuncture points chart that may be of interest to you! ;-) 


You've been reading about the Acupuncture Points Chart. Learn about the conditions that Acupuncture is great at treating here.

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