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Characters of the Physique

Characters of the Physique - by Chad Ryan

The names of acupuncture points could be said to hold useful significance towards informing point selection when providing a treatment. So what are the characters which have so come to identify the landmarks of the physique on which they lie, and the powers in which they possess?

This article relates to the acupuncture points of the primary channels of the six private (zàng) and six tenement (fŭ) organs, as well as the routes of the assignment (rèn) and supervising (dū) vessels, listed here by their Chinese character names:

LUNG (LU)
1.中府 2.雲門 3.天府 4.俠白 5.尺澤 6.孔最 7.列缺 8.經渠 9.太淵 10.魚際 11.少商

LARGE INTESTINE (LI)
1.商楊 2.二間 3.三間 4.合谷 5.陽溪 6.偏歷 7.溫溜 8.下廉 9.上廉 10.手三里 11.曲池 12.肘髎 13.手五里 14.臂臑 15.肩髃 16.巨骨 17.天鼎 18.扶突 19.口禾髎 20.迎香

STOMACH (ST)
1.承泣 2.四白 3.巨髎 4.地倉 5.大迎 6.頰車 7.下關 8.頭維 9.人迎 10.水突 11.氣舍 12.缺盆 13.氣戶 14.庫房 15.屋翳 16.應窗 17.乳中 18.乳跟 19.不容 20.承滿 21.梁們 22.關門 23.太乙 24.滑肉門 25.天樞 26.外陵 27.大巨 28.水道 29.歸來 30.氣沖 31.髀關 32.伏兔 33.陰市 34.梁丘 35.犢鼻 36.足三里 37.上巨虛 38.條口 39.下巨虛 40.豐隆 41.解溪 42.沖陽 43.陷谷 44.內庭 45.厲兌

SPLEEN (SP)
1.隱白 2.大都 3.太白 4.公孫 5.商丘 6.三陰交 7.漏谷 8.地機 9.陰陵泉 10.血海 11.箕門 12.沖門 13.府舍 14.腹結 15.大橫 16.腹哀 17.食竇 18.天溪 19.胸鄉 20.周榮 21.大包

HEART (HT)
1.極泉 2.青靈 3.少海 4.靈道 5.通里 6.陰郄 7.神門 8.少府 9.少沖

SMALL INTESTINE (SI)
1.少澤 2.前谷 3.後溪 4.腕骨 5.陽谷 6.養老 7.支正 8.小海 9.肩真 10.臑腧 11.天宗 12.秉風 13.屈垣 14.肩外腧 15.肩中腧 16.天窗 17.天容 18.顴髎 19.廳宮

BLADDER (BL)
1.睛明 2.攢竹 3.眉沖 4.曲差 5.五處 6.承光 7.通天 8.洛却 9.玉枕 10.天柱 11.大杼 12.風門 13.肺腧 14.厥陰腧 15.心腧 16.督腧 17.隔腧 18.肝腧 19.膽腧 20.脾腧 21.胃腧 22.三焦腧 23.腎腧 24.氣海腧 25.大腸腧 26.關元腧 27.小腸腧 28.膀胱腧 29.中膂腧 30.白環腧 31.上髎 32.次髎 33.中髎 34.下髎 35.會陽 36.承扶 37.殷門 38.浮郄 39.委陽 40.委中 41.附分 42.魄戶 43.膏肓腧 44.神堂 45.譩譆 46.隔關 47.魂門 48.陽綱 49.意舍 50.胃倉 51.肓門 52.志室 53.胞肓 54.秩邊 55.合陽 56.承筋 57.承山 58.飛揚 59.趺陽 60.昆侖 61.樸參 62.申脈 63.金門 64.京骨 65.束骨 66.足通谷 67.至陰

KIDNEY (KD)
1.湧泉 2.然谷 3.太溪 4.大鐘 5.水泉 6.照海 7.復溜 8.交信 9.築賓 10.陰谷 11.橫骨 12.大赫 13.氣穴 14.四滿 15.中注 16.肓腧 17.商曲 18.石關 19.陰都 20.腹通谷 21.幽門 22.步郎 23.神封 24.靈墟 25.神藏 26.彧中 27.腧府

PERICARDIUM (PC)
1.天池 2.天泉 3.曲澤 4.郄門 5.間使 6.內關 7.大陵 8.勞宮 9.中沖

TRIPLE BURNER (TB)
1.關沖 2.液門 3.中渚 4.陽池 5.外關 6.支溝 7.會宗 8.三陽絡 9.四瀆 10.天井 11.清冷淵 12.消濼 13.臑會 14.肩髎 15.天髎 16.天牖 17.翳風 18.瘛脈 19.顱息 20.角孫 21.耳門 22.耳和髎 23.絲竹空

GALL BLADDER (GB)
1.瞳子髎 2.聽會 3.上關 4.頷厭 5.懸顱 6.懸厘 7.曲鬢 8.率谷 9.天沖 10.浮白 11.頭竅陰 12.完骨 13.本神 14.陽白 15.頭臨泣 16.目窗 17.正營 18.承零 19.腦空 20.風池 21.肩井 22.淵腋 23.輒筋 24.日月 25.京門 26.帶脈 27.五樞 28.維道 29.居髎 30.還跳 31.風市 32.中瀆 33.膝陽關 34.陽陵泉 35.陽交 36.外丘 37.光明 38.陽輔 39.懸鐘 40.丘墟 41.足臨泣 42.地五會 43.俠溪 44.足竅陰

LIVER (LV)
1.大敦 2.行間 3.太沖 4.中封 5.蠡溝 6.中都 7.膝關 8.曲泉 9.陰包 10.足五里 11.陰廉 12.急脈 13.章門 14.期門

ASSIGNMENT (CV)
1.會陰 2.曲骨 3.中級 4.關元 5.石門 6.氣海 7.陰交 8.神闕 9.水分 10.下脘 11.建里 12.中脘 13.上脘 14.巨闕 15.鳩尾 16.中庭 17.膻中 18.玉堂 19.紫宮 20.華蓋 21.璇璣 22.天突 23.廉泉 24.承漿

SUPERVISING (GV)
1.長強 2.腰腧 3.腰陽關 4.命門 5.懸樞 6.脊中 7.中樞 8.筋縮 9.至陽 10.靈台 11.神道 12.身柱 13.陶道 14.大椎 15.啞門 16.風府 17.腦戶 18.強間 19.後頂 20.百會 21.前頂 22.囟會 23.上星 24.神庭 25.素髎 26.人中 27.兌端 28.齦交

In total there are 361 points on these 14 channels. 327 of these points have names comprised by the combination of two characters of the Chinese script, while 34 are comprised of three such characters, however there are just 316 single different characters used in the total formation of all these names.

Such is the repetition of use, that merely 27 acupuncture point names comprise of characters which are uniquely used for that acupuncture point and no other. While many of the characters of acupuncture points can soon become familiar due to their repetition, let us commence a complete discussion of the broader meanings of all characters used in acupuncture point names by covering those 27 exceptionally named points.

步廊 bùláng KD22, comprised of the characters 步 (step, walk, segment, stage or situation) and 廊 (corridor or verandah), is one among uniquely named acupuncture points. 犢鼻 dúbí ST35 is comprised of the characters 犢 (calf or sacrificial victim) and 鼻 (nose, inhale, smell and socket), which are likewise are not found in any other point names, when not counting extra points. 豐隆 fēnglóng ST40 is comprised of the characters 豐 (much, abundant, reap or elegant) and 隆 (flourishing, deep, prosperous or high). 養老 yǎnglǎo SI6 is comprised of the characters 養 (to nourish, feed, give birth to, train, foster, supplement, protect or adopt (a child), and 老 (of a great age, elder, old, prior, long-lasting, frequent, often, very, most, or course and worn). 譩譆 yīxĭ BL45 comprised of 譩, which is a word declared as a cry of pain, and 譆, which is an exclamatory word issued as in sighing or grief. These words are often used together as they are in the name of this point. 魚際 yújì LU10  is comprised of the characters 魚 (fish) and 際 (border, side, edge, space, at (a moment of time), or to be in touch with). 秩邊 zhìbiān BL54 is comprised of the characters 秩 (order, sequence or orderly) and 邊 (margin, next to, to border on, limit, position, direction or aspect, or edge of a polygon). 周榮 zhōuróng SP20 is comprised of the characters 周 (to encircle, loop, all, cycle (particularly referring to week), to give material assistance to, or being considerate of multiple viewpoints) and 榮 (to receive respect and praise; rampant or prosperous). 築賓 zhúbīn KD9 is comprised of 築 (to build, construct) and 賓 (guest). 頷厭 hànyàn GB4 is comprised of the characters 頷 (chin, nod) and 厭 (to loathe, dislike, to be bored, to be sick and tired of, or satisfaction). In this way, 厭 appears to be an example of the interesting phenomenon regarding Chinese characters in which one of several meanings, in this case that of 'satisfaction', is quite in opposition to the general sense of the meaning of the word.

Most modern words in Chinese language are similar to acupuncture point names in that they are a combination of two characters. 歸來 guīlái ST29 meaning ‘returning’ is an example of an acupuncture point which is also a commonly used word. Another is 庫房 kùfāng ST14 meaning ‘storehouse’, and the characters of these points are unique among point names. 頰車 jiáchē ST6 is comprised of the characters 頰 (cheeks, face) and 車 (car, machine). 鳩尾 jiūwéi CV15 is comprised of the characters 鳩 (bird, oriental turtle dove, spotted dove or congregate) and 尾 (tail, final part, or to follow closely). 孔最 kŏngzuì LU6 is comprised of the characters 孔 (hole, cavity, passage, very) and 最 (most, ultimate, peak, without comparison). 經渠 jīngqú LU8 is comprised of the characters 經 (verticle thread in sewing, longitudinal line, channel in the body carrying qì, scripture, menstruation, to pass through, to endure, to manage or to govern) and 渠 (man-made water passage (such as a gutter or canal). 偏歷 piānlì LI6 is comprised of the characters 偏 (skewed, diagonal, biased, reticent, obscure, unfortunate or contrary to reason, and 歷 (passage, route, everywhere or calendar).日月 rìyuè GB24 is comprised of the characters 日 (sun, day, daytime or occasion) and 月 (moon, month, moon-shaped). 食竇 shídòu SP17 is comprised of the characters 食 (eat, food, eclipse; or pronounced sì means ‘to feed’) and 竇 (hole, aperture and sinus). 胸鄉 xiōngxiāng SP19 is comprised of the characters 胸 (chest, thorax, analogous for thoughts, intent or energy) and 鄉 (village, hometown or county). 志室 zhìshì BL52 is comprised of the characters 志 (ideal, determination, memorise, express, mark or record book) and 室 (meaning room, house, or a department of an organisation, group, factory, or school).

Some points names rely on specialised knowledge of China or Chinese culture to properly make sense of. 昆侖 kūnlún BL60 comes from the name of a snowcapped mountain range extending more than 3,000 kilometres outlining the northern rim of the Tibetan Plateau form the southern border of the Tarim Basin, reaching elevation of over 7,000 metres. 消濼 xiāoluò SJ12 is comprised of the characters 消 (to disperse, melt, eliminate, douse, to divert oneself, to spend time, expense or requirement) and 濼 (a river in China’s Shāndōng Province acting as a tributary to the Yellow River, one name for the herb Rhizoma Dryopteris (貫衆 guànzhòng), a lake, an old swamp, or recreational waterlands in Shāndōng culture). 僕參 púcān BL61 is comprised of the characters 僕 (servant) and 參 (to join, look up, attend (according to a certain etiquette), unequal (when pronounced cēn), and root (when pronounced shēn)). 璇璣 xuánjī CV21 ‘Jade Pivot’ is comprised of the characters 璇 (fine jade or ring-shaped astronomical instrument made of fine jade) and 璣 (irregular pearl).

Some point names are entirely more intriguing with an understanding of Chinese medicine physiology. It is the function of the lungs to descend pure fluids to moisten the other organs of the body, and the fully functioning capacity of the lung is dependent on this healthy descending direction of the lung qì.  雲門 yúnmén LU2 is comprised of the characters 雲 yún meaning cloud or to say, and 門 meaning door or portal. Needling 雲門 descends lung qì, and just like unlocking the door of the clouds, moisture may thus descend to nourish what lies beneath. The function of another point name 石門 shímén CV5 (石 meaning rock or stone) could be derived from a colloquial term that may be just as well understood to the insider as its alternate name 絕孕 juéyùn literally meaning “infertility”, as a ‘stone woman’ is in an ordinary manner of speech an ‘infertile woman’. While description of alternative names, among which there are the thirteen ghost points, is not covered by the extent of the information herein, I find it interesting to note that 膝陽關 xīyángguān GB33 is also known as 寒府 hánfŭ, literally meaning ‘Cold Mansion’. Though active in the practices of running and cycling, I did make the curious observation while trialing an extensive period of having predominantly only cold showers, that I would become tight and sore in this precise area of the tendon of insertion of the biceps femoris muscle, suggesting to my Chinese medical conscience that there could be physiological tendency for some exogenous cold pathogen to accumulate, thus causing stagnation and pain, precisely in this particular area on the gall bladder channel.

The seventeen most commonly used characters in acupuncture point names are as follows:

Rank

Character

Occurrences

Explanation

Examples

1

26

A variation of the character 腧 shù, which tends to appear in this more simple form when encountered within point names, where the literal meaning is ‘acupuncture point’.  In other contexts, this character is pronounced “” where it can mean to accede or to assent.

白環俞 báihuánshū BL30,大腸俞dàchángshū BL25,膽俞 dănshū BL19,督俞 dūshū BL16,肺俞fèishū BL13,肝俞 gānshū BL18,膏肓俞 gāohuāngshū BL43,隔俞géshū BL17,關元俞 guānyuánshū BL26,肓俞 huāngshū KD16,肩外俞 jiānwàishū SI14,肩中俞 jiānzhōngshū SI15,厥陰俞juéyīnshū BL14,臑俞 nāoshū SI10,膀胱俞 pángguāngshū BL28,脾俞 píshū BL20,氣海俞 qìhăishū BL24,三焦俞 sānjiāoshū BL22,腎俞 shènshū BL23,胃俞 wèishū BL21,小腸俞xiăochángshū BL27,懸俞 xuánshū GV5,腰俞 yāoshū GV2,俞府shūfū KD27,中膂俞 zhōnglǚshū BL29,心俞 xīnshū BL15

2

21

The meaning is door or portal, though this character can also be employed to signify knack or method. By extension to its principle meaning, it can indicate household, family or type.

耳門 ěrmén SJ21,風門 fēngmén BL12,關門 guānmén ST22,肓門huāngmén BL51,滑肉門 huáròumén ST24,魂門 húnmén BL47,箕門 qīmén LV14,京門jīngmén GB25,金門 jīnmén BL63,梁門 liángmén ST21,命門 mìngmén GV4,神門 shénmén HT7,石門 shímén CV5,郄門 xīmén P4,啞門 yămén GV15,腋門 yèmén SJ2,殷門 yīnmén BL37,幽門 yōumén KD21,雲門 yúnmén LU2,章門 zhāngmén LV13,期門 qímén LV14

3

20

Like a piece of food pierced by a skewer, this clearly symbolic pictogram represents not only ‘middle’ but furthermore ‘inside’, ‘medium’, ‘suitable’, ‘right’ and ‘convenient’. With Chinese thought placing itself at the centre of the universe, it is regularly used to indicate China. It may also indicate a process is underway when used with actions. Pronounced zhòng, this character may also mean ‘to hit the mark’.

脊中 jĭzhōng GV6,人中 rénzhōng GV26,乳中 rŭzhōng ST17,膻中shānzhōng CV17,委中 wĕizhōng BL40,彧中 yùzhōng KD26,中衝zhōngchōng PC9,中瀆 zhōngdú GB32,中都 zhōngdū LV6,中封 zhōngfēng LV4,中府 zhōngfŭ LU1,中極 zhōngjí CV3,中髎zhōngliáo BL33,中膂俞 zhōnglǚshū BL29,中樞 zhōngshū GV7,中庭 zhōngtíng CV16,中脘 zhōngwăn CV12,中注 zhōngzhù  KD15,中渚 zhōngzhŭ SJ3,肩中俞 jiānzhōngshū SI15

4

18

Meaning the opposite of yīn, the sun, the south side of the mountain, the exterior the upper, the extruding, the positively charged and the living.

陽白 yángbái GB14,陽池 yángchí SJ4,陽輔 yángfŭ GB38,陽綱 yánggāng BL48,陽谷 yánggŭ SI5,陽交 yángjiāo GB35,陽陵泉 yánglíngquán GB34,陽溪 yángxī LI5,至陽 zhìyáng GV9,膝陽關 xīyángguān GB33,委陽 wĕiyáng BL39,商陽 shāngyáng LI1,三陽絡 sānyángluò SJ8,跗陽 fùyáng BL59,沖陽 chōngyáng ST42,會陽 huìyáng BL35,合陽 héyáng BL55,腰陽關 yāoyángguān GV3

5

16

Meaning the opposite of ‘ground’, high and empty, climate, weather, nature or time.

天池 tiānchí PC1,天沖 tiānchōng GB9,天窗 tiānchuāng SI16,天鼎 tiāndĭng LI17,天府 tiānfŭ LU3,天井 tiānjĭng SJ10,天髎 tiānliáo SJ15,天泉 tiānquán PC2,天容 tiānróng SI17,天樞 tiānshū ST25,天突 tiāntú CV22,天溪 tiānxī SP18,天牖 tiānyŏu SJ16,天柱 tiānzhù BL10,天宗 tiānzōng SI11,通天 tōngtiān BL7

Eq6

14

This character may mean contained, folded, closed, and by extension ‘to go bankrupt’. It can denote an intersection point or border, a hinge, a customs duty office, and a crucial turning point in events or a difficult period. Further meanings are a connection, to implicate or to be implicated.

髀關 bìguān ST31,隔關 géguān BL46,關衝 guānchōng SJ1,關門 guānmén ST22,關元 guānyuán CV4,關元俞 guānyuánshū BL26,內關 nèiguān PC6,上關 shàngguān GB3,石關 shíguān KD18,外關 wàiguān SJ5,下關 xiàguān ST7,膝陽關 xīyángguān GB33,膝關 xīguān LV7,腰陽關 yāoyángguān GV3

Eq6

14

In literary this refers precisely to the hip bone, but in Chinese medicine and acupuncture it may indicate the space between two joints.

耳和髎 ěrhéliáo SJ22,肩髎 jiānliáo SJ14,巨髎 jùliáo ST3,居髎 jūliáo GB29,口禾髎 kŏuhéliáo LI19,顴髎 quánliáo SI18,上髎 shàngliáo BL31,素髎 sùliáo GV25,天髎 tiānliáo SJ15,瞳子髎 tóngzĭliáo GB1,下髎 xiàliáo BL34,中髎 zhōngliáo BL33,肘髎 zhŏuliáo LI12,次髎 cìliáo BL32

Eq6

14

Is the moon, the shade, the concealed and murky, the concave, the ghost spirit, and to play tricks or cause mischief. It is the opposite of yáng.

會陰 huìyīn CV1,厥陰俞 juéyīnshū BL14,三陰交 sānyīnjiāo SP6,陰包 yīnbāo LV9,陰都 yīndū KD19,陰谷 yīngŭ KD10,陰交 yīnjiāo GV28,陰郄 yīnxī HT6,陰廉 yīnlián LV11,陰陵泉 yīnlíngquán SP9,陰市 yīnshì ST33,至陰 zhìyīn BL67,頭竅陰 tóuqiàoyīn GB11,足竅陰 zúqiàoyīn GB44

9

12

Meaning big, old, first in order, important, high. This character provides a respectful term of address. It can mean very, often, an estimation, or a great length of time. The one instance in which this character is pronounced differently is as in大夫dàifu which means doctor or physician.

大包 dàbāo SP21,大腸俞 dàchángshū BL25,大都 dàdū SP2,大敦 dàdūn LV1,大赫 dàhè KD12,大橫 dàhéng SP15,大巨 dàjù ST27,大陵 dàlíng PC7,大迎 dàyíng ST5,大鐘 dàzhōng KD4,大杼 dàzhù BL11,大椎 dàzhuī GV14

10

10

Is a valley or fold in a mountain, so can be imagined as drawing parallels in imagery between nature and the human figure. It also means grain, or more specifically millet.

合谷 hégŭ LI4,漏谷 lòugŭ SP7,前谷 qiángŭ SI2,然谷 rángŭ KD2,陷谷 xiàngŭ ST43,陽谷 yánggŭ SI5,陰谷 yīngŭ KD10,足通谷 zútōnggŭ BL66,率谷 shuàigŭ GB8,腹通谷 fùtōnggŭ KD20

Eq11

8

This character shows a gathering, convention, meeting, collective, group and even a big city. It means to meet or to understand. It also is used as a possibility, opportunity or occasion. It can also indicate ‘to pay’. Pronounced kuài it may mean to balance an account or accountancy.

百會 băihuì GV20,地五會 dìwŭhuì GB42,會陽 huìyáng BL35,會陰 huìyīn CV1,會宗 huìzōng SJ7,臑會 nāohuì SJ13,聽會 tīnghuì GB2,囟會 xìnhuì GV22

Eq11

8

Means both god, special mastery or superb master, and mood thoughts, inclination, vitality, complexion or expression

本神 bĕnshén GB13,神藏 shéncáng KD25,神道 shéndào GV11,神封 shénfēng KD23,神門 shénmén HT7,神闕 shénquè CV8,神堂 shéntáng BL44,神庭 shéntíng GV24

Eq11

8

Principally to ‘assume’, ‘support’, ‘bear’ or ‘undertake’, it may also be used as politeness or reception, and to continue or connect.

承扶 chéngfú BL36,承光 chéngguāng BL6,承漿 chéngjiāng CV24,承筋 chéngjīn BL56,承靈 chénglíng GB18,承滿 chéngmăn ST20,承泣 chéngqì ST1,承山 chéngshān BL57

Eq11

8

Bent, incorrect, unregulated, or ‘to ferment’. Pronounced qŭ it may mean tune or song.

曲鬢 qūbìn GB7,曲差 qūchāi BL4,曲池 qūchí LI11,曲骨 qūgŭ CV2,曲泉 qūquán LV8,曲垣 qūyuán SI13,曲澤 qū PC3,商曲 shāngqū KD17

Eq15

7

Fountain, mouth of spring, or in outdate speech would refer to a coin.

水泉shuĭquán KD5,天泉tiānquán PC2,陽陵泉yánglíngquán GB34,陰陵泉yīnlíngquán SP9,涌泉tŏngquán KD1,極泉jíquán HT1,曲泉qūquán LV8

Eq15

7

White, empty, blank, clear, free, shining, useless or dysfunctional. It can mean spoken language or vernacular, ‘to explain’, or ‘to incorrectly read or write characters’.

白環俞 báihuánshū BL30,浮白 fúbái GB10,四白 sìbái ST2,太白 tàibái SP3,俠白 xiábái LU4,陽白 yángbái GB14,隱白 yĭnbái SP1

Eq15

7

Meaning bone, frame, human character, and extension to ‘bone’ can mean ‘(flower) bud’ or ‘roll’, as in a cylindrical bone rolling along the ground.

橫骨 hénggŭ KD11,京骨 jīnggŭ BL64,巨骨 jùgŭ LI16,曲骨 qūgŭ CV2,束骨 shū BL65,完骨 wángŭ GB12,腕骨 wànqŭ SI4

There are six pairs of points which can be differentiated in their pronunciation only according to tone. For instance, 巨髎 jùliáo ST3 should be differentiated from 居髎 jūliáo GB29. 巨 means big while 居 may mean reside, residence, location, whereabouts, to metaphorically bear or carry on one’s chest, to store up, to observe or to appoint. Furthermore, 完骨 wángŭ GB12, where 完 may normally mean complete, without shortage, to settle, to conclude, or to pay (taxes or dues) sounds identical except for tonal differences to 腕骨 wàngŭ SI4, where 腕 may generally means not only wrist but also ankle. Other pairs which require attentive care not to confuse when speaking about acupuncture points include: 陰交 yīnjiāo CV7 and 齦交 yínjiāo DU28, where 交 has the meaning to contribute forward, interim, intersection or to meet up, and where 齦 means gums and also has the alternative meaning of ‘to nibble’ when pronounced kěn; 中瀆 zhōngdú GB32 where 瀆 can mean ditch or disrespectful, and 中都 zhōngdū LV6 where 都 can mean big city in addition to capital city, but pronounced dóu means both, all, even (when used for emphasis), entirely, already, and ‘at all’(when used in the negative context); 中注 zhōngzhù KD15 where 注 can regularly mean to pour , to focus, to paraphrase, explanation, to register, or to outlay (a bet), and 中渚 zhōngzhŭ SJ3, where 渚 means islet; as well as 扶突 fútū LI18 where 扶 means support, to help (up) or to give consideration, and 突 means suddenly, to split through, to protrude through, to bulge and chimney; and 伏兔 fútù ST32 which is comprised of the characters 伏 (to lie face down (over), to sink, to concede, to make a mistake, to receive punishment, to hide or to subdue) and 兔 (rabbit). The subtle differences between tones provides extensive opportunity as a source of humour in Chinese, so be careful not to say “I needled wángù (頑固)!” That means “I needled obstinately”.

Among the characters of the names of the standard acupuncture points, there are those primarily depicting facets of anatomy, many of which do so exclusively. Among such characters with single meanings are 腹 meaning abdomen, 腸 cháng meaning intestine, and 腋 meaning armpit.  腋門 yèmén SJ2, literally armpit gate may relate to this points indication for having an inability to assist a person in raising their arm. Further to this, there is 胃 wèi meaning stomach, 膝 meaning knee, 椎 zhuī meaning vertebrae, 肝 gān meaning liver, 脾 meaning spleen, 鬢 bìn meaning sideburn, 腎 shèn meaning kidney, 瞳 tóng meaning pupil, 囟 xìn meaning fontenelle, 睛 jīng meaning eyeball, 膺 yīng meaning chest, 脘 wǎn meaning internal cavity of stomach, 隔 meaning diaphragm, 跗meaning tarsus (including the calcaneus, talus, cuboid, navicular and cuneiform bones of the posterior foot), 髀 meaning thigh, and 髃 meaning anterior shoulder bone (though is reserved for traditional use relating principally to acupuncture). 肓 huāng is the region between the heart and the diaphragm. It may be tempting to think that in the case for some of the above mentioned private zàng organs, connotations may be drawn according to five element theory, though the regular use is not always aligned to medical understanding. For instance, though the idea of anger would resonate with the liver to a Chinese medicine practitioner, it is ‘emitting spleen qì’ in day-to-day use that means ‘to get angry’.

Elsewhere, five element theory finds analogy in the formation of acupuncture names. 地means the earth, field, region, place, low, or distance travelled. Located on the lateral tip of the lips and indicated for disorders of the mouth including deviation and drooling, as well as an inability to eat, 地倉 dìcāng ST4 (倉 meaning granary) could describe the mouth as being a kind of granary deposit for the earth organs of the stomach and the spleen. 竹 zhú means bamboo, and used with 攢 (which pronounced zǎn means to deposit or to amass; and pronounced cuán means to assemble or to gather together) in the character 攢竹 BL2 refers to the wood element, as it is found on the inner aspect of the eyebrows which in the capacity of hair growth is connected with the liver organ. 蠡, pronounced lí means calabash (ladle), or pronounced means wood-boring insect. 蠡溝  LV5 lĭgōu of the zàng channel the wood element is the first point that comes to mind as having an action which bores its way into the genital region. 溝 gōu itself means water path, repression or tunnel resembling a water path, or remote mountain region.

The characters of other parts of the body have multiple meanings. For instance, 肩 jiān means shoulder, while it can also mean undertaking or to bear. 臑 nào means biceps, and in archaic times also the forelimbs of livestock animals. 耳 ěr means ear or laterally attached objects such as the handles on a pot. 腦 nǎo means brain, but can also refer to an item resembling the consistency of brain tissue. 乳 means breast, or milk, or infant. 手 shŏu means hand, to grab, ability, skill, occupation or to do personally. 腰 yāo means waist, kidneys or in certain circumstances also ‘midpoint’. 胞 bāo means placenta, womb, sibling or compatriot. 膽 dǎn means gall bladder, or courage (even in general use), and may refer to an apparatus containing air or water. 肺 fèi means lung, but can also mean the deeper intention that is felt in the body rather than the mind.  膀 páng can mean bladder, but when pronounced “bǎng” will mean either upper arm or wing, and when pronounced “pāng" means swelling. 胱 guāng also means bladder, yet is most exclusively used in tandem and following the preceding 膀. 脊 means backbone or ridge. 眉 méi means eyebrow or the clear margin at the top of a page of a book. 目 means not only eye, but also ‘to look’, contents, or the item on a program. 顴 quán means cheekbone, or what is technically referred to as the zygomatic arches. 身 shēn means body, life, self, status, character, or the main part of an object. 心 xīn means heart, the thoughts and feelings of the mind, or the main part of an object. 血 xuè means blood, relative, tough or “to ferment”. 膂 means spine, and can also refer to the force of a person. 肘 zhŏu means elbow or pork thigh.

As a medical system which merges mind and body, physical and spiritual, there are characters of the Chinese medicine system of acupuncture which describe parts of the human for which there is no anatomical description too. 靈 líng means intelligent, quick, very effective, supernatural entity, and is related to dead people. 命 mìng means life, fate, command or to give. 魂 hún means spirit capable of leaving the body, condition of the spirit, or majestic spirit. 魄 means spirit, energy or the spirit said to be attached to the human body.

Two points on the body which provide particular leverage towards the action of jumping are named accordingly. 飛揚 fēiyáng BL58 ‘Soaring Upwards’ is located on the slightly lateral aspect of the calf and appears to be precisely the area which someone aiming for maximal vertical takeoff as a high jumper would lean into when planting their foot to leap. It is comprised of the characters 飛 (fly, glide, fast, zoom, drift in the air, accidental, baseless, especially and special) and 揚 (rise, float, toss upwards, disseminate, to acclaim or to stand out). 環跳 huántiào GB30 is located at the depression between the hipbone and the bulge of the buttocks, and angled such that penetration of this point provides deep activation of the gluteal muscles. 環 means ring, or to spiral. 跳 means to jump, to bounce or to exceed. Bordered inferiorly by the gluteus maximus as the gluteus maximus wraps its way around the deeper gluteal muscles in a lateral and inferior direction, and bordered superiorly by the greater bulge of the gluteus medius, this indent and its desired function of activating the region providing the squatting power for jumping when stimulated indeed appears to be demarcated by a ring.

There are numbers used in point names partly because they hold a certain extra significance. 三 sān meaning three can also be used to signify several times. 五 is five and holds a special place in the psychology Chinese medicine because of five element theory. 四 is four and is used in relation to the directions and the seasons as well. 二 èr is two and can also mean ‘the second’, ‘two types’ or ‘the other’.  百 bǎi is one-hundred and can also signify lots, or many different types of. 百會 băihuì GV20 may be so called because the many yáng channels which ascend to the head conect to this point. 次 meaning second, is somewhat interchangeable with 二, while it can also mean second rate, sequence, a stopping place during travel, or the number of times which something has occurred.

Phenomena from nature are prolific in acupuncture point names, just as they are in traditional Chinese medicine physiology, and the significance is often so obvious that explanation is not required. 風 fēng means wind, vent, news, word of mouth, sight, manner, attitude, habit or folk song. 池 chí means pool, moat, or thing resembling a pool. The name 風池 fēngchí, for the point GB20 which sits in the hollow formed by the concave notch at the base of the occiput bone and which treats wind, is thus constructed by a combination of physiological action and anatomical representation. 海 hǎi means sea, large, lake, of produce originating from the sea, and is also descriptive of ‘big’ or ‘many’. 谿means mountain stream. 水 shuĭ means water, liquid, flowing stream, and is a common name for rivers, lakes or seas. 丘 qiū means mound, hill, or grave. The name 商丘 shāngqiū of acupoint SP5, literally "store at the mound", could quite easily be envisaged as a store of qì at the foot of the mound that is the medial malleolus, but incidently is also the name of a city in the north-east of Hé​nán province. 玉 means jade or precious purity. 支 zhī means hold up, aid, dispatch, invest or extract. 山 shān means mountain (or thing resembling that), or silkworm nest (which is the bundle of straw and so forth provided for silkworm to spin their cocoons), and apart from the bellies of the gastrocnemius bulging to resemble a mountain in a strong active individual, the character  山 itself looks like the two bellies of the gastrocnemius divided in the centre. 角 jiǎo means horn  (or thing resembling that), a specific old musical instrument of warfare, angle, corner or 10 Chinese cents. When pronounced jué in means role as in a role in a theatre production. 金 jīn means gold, metal, money, a gong-type instrument, or golden. 禾 means grain, and the philtrum looks like one too. 星 xīng means star or figure resembling a star, markers on a balance arm, or minute. 根 gēn means root, base aspect, origin , or thoroughly. 子 means child, person, egg, seed, mass, granule, infantile, supple, while in former times in meant educated person. 肉 ròu means flesh or meat. 穴 xué means hole, pocket, burrow, and acupuncture or moxibustion position. 條 tiáo means  slender and soft branch of a tree, narrow and long object, simple document, contract, layer, sequence or item. As 口 kŏu means mouth, entry point, gap, blade or incision, as well as the age of a horse or mule, 條口 tiáokŏu ST38, which is located half way between the knee joint and the lateral malleolus of the ankle, marks the mouth which exists between the two lines which are the long bones of the tibia and the fibula. 墟 means ruins or market. 淵 yuān means mere (the noun) , deep, or at a great depth.

Then there are characters used in acupuncture point names which describe more ethereal qualities. 清 qíng means pure, placid, comprehension, honest, fair, to thoroughly tidy up or organise, simple, or cool and refreshing. 焦 jiāo means to heat something until yellow or to scorch until coal, to worry, or coke (as in processed coal used in a blast furnace). 溫 wēn means mild, temperature, warm-up, and gentle or smooth emotions. 冷 lěng means cool, calm, rarely seen, unnoticed, to spring up out of nowhere, to snub or to disdain. 氣 means thing without body or form which is able to flow and spread (inferring particularly to air), while it also means breath, the scent smelled by the nostrils, weather, state of mind, style of thought, to push around, and anger incited. 香 xiāng means fragrant, appetising smell, food of great flavor, being welcomed or esteemed, and scent. 照 zhào means to radiate, to look at oneself in the mirror, to shoot film, photograph, to give regard to, opposite, proof, according to, contrast or to check. 隱 yĭn means hidden, covered, concealed, deep within the heart, unexpressed or unclear; and pronounced yìn it means ‘to lean upon’. 幽 yōu means secluded place, secret, covert, deeply tranquil or captivity. 光 guāng means radiance, glow, honour, scenery, absolutely complete, to expose, single, smooth, to hallow, or to cause to happen. 明 míng means bright, public, understood, vision, sharp vision, or second (when in reference to year or day, as in ‘next year’ or ‘tomorrow’). The point 光明 guāngmíng GB37 aptly named, as it is the luò-connecting point of the gallbladder channel, so connects to the liver channel and the eyes, and assists the vision. 膻 shān means the smell of mutton or goats.

There are points describing actions of natural phenomena too. 沖 chōng means to drench, to brew and to pierce upwards, while 沖 and 衝 chōng both mean to beat, to charge forwards, or major road of transportation. 涌 yŏng means to burst outwards or to gush upwards like water. 行 xíng means to go, to circulate, to transmit, action, to do, competent, able, and is of relation to departure; and pronounced háng it means row, line, profession, or to rank. 陷 xiàn means to sink, to enter a pit, harmful thinking, to be infiltrated, to be occupied, and weakness; while 陷谷 xiàngŭ ST43 is not only located between in the depression between the second and third metatarsals, but also treat phenomena causing a sinking feeling on palpation called edema. 通 tōng means to pass through without obstruction, to clear blockage, mutual connection, to collude with, to understand, writing and grammar, to tell or casually inform, all, and general. 漏 lòu means to seep out, to divulge information, to neglect, or to flow. 浮 means to float, to drift, empty, provisional, superficial; and without a firm base, depth or surplus.

Certain colours are come across in the names of acupuncture points, and they may carry with them more meaning than a simple frequency of light. 青 qīng means cyan, blue, green, black, uncooked grass or crops, and is analogous to youth. 紫 means purple and is analogous to authority, nobility, luxury and ambition as it is the colour of the emperor. The location of the point 紫宮 zĭgōng CV19 on the sternum at the level of the second intercostal space could well be perceived as an inference to the heart beating beneath the ribcage in the proximity as being the emperor of all the organs. 宮 gōng means palace, heaven, temple, and cultural or recreational activity facility; and in the case of the analogy constructed about 紫宮, the ribcage including the sternum could be the palace of the heart. 白 bái is the colour of frost and snow, and means completely empty, bright, clear, free, ineffective, to assert, to explain, speech, typo and spoken language. 素 means white, unadorned, odorless, original, elemental and ordinary.

There is also no shortage of manmade constructions which have provided inspiration for the recognition of many acupuncture points as they are known today. 機 means machine, plane, convenient timing, deft, pivot, very important or key part. 府 means government, residence of an official or nobleman (in former times), the primary office or residence of a country, (formally) an administrative district (one level higher than a county district), or a three year professional training education institution. 間 jiān means between, room of a building, and may indicated a specified place, region or period of time; while pronounced jiàn it means gap, to disperse, or to sow dicontent. 道 dào means road, way, method, skill, to use words to express, a line (in drawing), morality and conduct, Daoism, and a reactionary superstitious organisation. 商 shāng means to discuss together, exchange ideas, buy and sell produce, a store and quotient. 窗 chuāng means window. 天窗 tiānchuāng SI16 is located high up on posterior border of the sternocleidomastoid muscle at the level of the Adam’s apple like a window in a tower, but also benefits the ears and the throat which as orifices could be considered ‘windows’ in their own right. 戶 means door or person’s house. 樞 shū means hinge or crux. 堂 táng means spacious house, the central building in a traditional house, mother, relative of whom one is on good terms, and (previously) a place for authorities to investigate incidents. 市 shì means market, city, municipality or to buy. 井 jĭng means well, shaft, orderly or hometown. 京 jīng means capital, and particularly refers to Běijīng. 梁 liáng means beam or ridge. 封 fēng means seal, to restrict or to grant. 柱 zhù means upright support or phenomena resembling this in shape. 翳 means cover, feather-screen or cataract. 杼 zhù means sewing shuttle, and so 大椎 dàzhuī GV14 sits at the head of a long line of parallel points known as the inner back shū points, like a shuttle which sits at the end of a row of strings to be weaved together on a loom. Like a well-constructed cloth this group of tight-knit points can be used together with more substantial and universal function as the complete material of back-shū treatments than can any other consecutive array of points on the body.

Continuing with artificial structures informing the identity of acupuncture point names, 台 tái means platform, stage, rest, counter or table. 垣 yuán means wall or city wall. 陶 táo means pottery,  joy, and is analogous to teaching or nurturing. 鼎 dĭng means cauldron with three legs, big, in the middle of doing something, and stipulation supported by three conditions. 牖 yŏu means window. 屋 means house or room. 鐘 zhōng means bell, clock, time or single-minded. 枕 zhěn means pillow or to rest one’s head on. 營 yíng means garrison, to be in charge of, to construct, to strive for, to make an attempt or battalion. The word for nutrition in Chinese (營養 yíngyăng) is formed by this meaning together with the meaning of the second character to raise (animals) or to bring up (children), to support, or to give birth. 管 guǎn means pipe, wind musical instrument, to contribute, to restrict, to ensure, to manage and to take. 箕 means winnow basket. 章 zhāng means chapter, clause, statue, verse, arrangement or print. 闕 què means imperial city watchtower or palace. 網 wăng means net, web, network, and to catch with a net. 廉 lián means to not be fond of money or to not be corrupt, and it can also mean cheap, while in former times in meant to investigate, or side wall of a traditional Chinese house. The latter meaning could provide description of the radius bone in the points 上廉 shànglián LI9 and 下廉 xiàlián LI8 of the large intestine channel. 絡 luò means net-like object, to wind, to twist, or to interlink, and pronounced lào means spindle, or 'Chinese knotting', which is a type of traditional Chinese decoration constructed out of cord. 綱 gāng means head rope of a fishing net, guiding principles, key link, program, or taxonomy class. 郄 means crack, crevice, loophole or discord, to recoil, or a shift in the trend of events; while 竅 qiào means hole, orifice, opening, key (to solving a problem), ingenuity, or handy, and these two acupuncture point characters can form naturally or otherwise in man-made objects. Though 絡 as a point category is quite self-explanatory as a point which could be expected to make a lateral connection to a nearby and parallel interiorly-exteriorly related channel, as it does; the use of the character 郄 in acupuncture as a 郄 point has the meaning of indicating a place in the body where qì and blood gather.

There are points describing spatial aspects and measurements. 內 nèi means inside. 里 also means inside, and can mean inner layer, hometown, neighbor, within a specified area, or a Chinese mile (500 metres) too. 上 shàng means of a high position, class or quality, advanced in time or sequence, arrive, go to, to increase, to install, noble, to be cheated, to record, or to be published. 太 tài means overly, very, maximal, and is a respectful term of address for people two generations older than oneself. 下 xià means positioned in a low place, late in time or sequence, low in class, moving from high to low, to input, to shed, to utilise, to knock off, or less than. 外 wài means outside, other, foreign country, maternal, alienated or unofficial. 小 xiǎo means small, inexperienced, quiet, last in line, unimportant, a short period of time, or to look down upon. 前 qián means in front, to move forward, past, upcoming, or near the front of a sequence. 頂 dĭng means peak, upmost, ultimate, to put on the head, to withstand, to press against, to brave, to disobey, to dispute, to be the equivalent of, efficacious or to replace. 後 hòu means after, later generation, child, grandchild or the emperor’s wife. 長 cháng means of great distance, long, often, or internal; while pronounced zhăng it means head, elder, to grow or to enhance. 橫 héng means horizontal, chaotic, barbarian or nonsensical. 極 means summit, end part or greatest. 端 duān means upright, established standard, flatten, end (of an object), beginning, item, dot or reason. 附 means auxiliary, near, dependent or subordinate. 尺 chĭ means ruler (object), or ‘one foot’, and this distance is approximately the length from the wrist to the elbow crease, which is where the 澤 (meaning swamp, moist, luster, or kind favor) lies from the wrist crease in 尺澤 chĭzé LU5.

means one-hundredth, unit of interest calculated by the bank, to govern or to sort out. The relevance of the name 懸厘 xuánlí GB6 as a point which ‘sorts out’ ailments, is possibly by relation to its immediate proximity to the anatomically named 懸顱 xuánlú. 懸 xuán means to hang, to be without settlement, to worry, to be greatly separated (in distance or otherwise), without foundation or dangerous; and 顱 means skull, or the top of the head; so 懸顱 may indicate, when moving in a lateral direction, the point wher the skull becomes verticle, and so when a person is in a standing position, the point in which an object could not rest, but could hang if suspended by a string to the vextex of the skull. The point 顱息 lúxī, where 息means breath, message, to stop, to rest, or financial interest, lies on approximately the point where someone could rest their head when lying down. Something which struck me as peculiar yet sensible when I was once admiring a life-sized bronze man with acupuncture points all over him, was the areas of the body on which there were are no zàngfŭ acupuncture points, as these areas appeared to be those which people generally make most contact with to surfaces with, either sitting, standing or lying. Of course according to the theory of acupressure, we would be continuously stimulating a point in which we were leaning on, so it is befitting that such areas of the body should not be so sensitive to pressure as to be used in acupuncture treatment. Apart from possibly developing pins and needles, if they did have a function, that would be stimulated so "obstinately" that the point would be expected to eventually lose most of its potency in time.

There is a method that the Chinese use of classifying cyclical patterns into ten or twelve portions, each portion of which has its own name. These twelve earthly braches and ten heavenly stems as they have been called, have been used across various fields from calendars to ordinal numbers; and a few of these characters have found their way into the names of  acupuncture points. 申 shēn means explain, express, or 3-5pm. It means 3-5pm because it is the eighth of twelve earthly branches, which classify not only two-hour periods of time in the twenty-four hour day, but also different planets and the animals of the Chinese zodiac.  乙 as the symbol of the second of ten heavenly stems used cyclically in the farming calendar of traditional China, and means ‘second’ in the general sense.

There are acupuncture point names with characters that are spatial descriptions of volume. 縮 suō means shrink (in size or length), unextended, or retreat. 滿 mǎn means filled completely, to attain a specific maximum, entire, to satisfy or arrogant. 包 bāo means to enclose, case, sack, to contain, to take complete and final responsibility for, or a customised bargain. 分 fēn means to separate, to disperse, to differentiate, branch (of an institution), fraction, one cent, score, as well as very little, or a very small amount. Pronounced fèn it means share, ingredient or component. 虛 means empty, fake, humble, for nothing, to be afraid, timid, or weak. 處 chù means place, section of an organisation, to reside (with), to be at, to manage or to punish. 容 róng means to enclose, forgive, permit, and facial features or appearance. 缺 quē means insufficient, lacking, absent, broken or empty position. 合 means closed, shut, communal, assembled, all together, total, corresponding, conversation or equivalent. 和 means combine, meek, resolve, to draw  (as in to neither win nor lose), to include with, or sum. Pronounced huò it means to mix ingredients together. 空 kōng means empty, to depart from reality, to be without substance, for nothing, without resolution, or up in the sky. Pronounced kòng it means empty vacant or leisure. 維 wéi means to bind, to maintain or meek. 殷 yīn means abundant, profound or prosperous, and pronounced yān it means dark red.

Some characters of point names describe actions. 聽, pronounced tīng means to listen, to obey, to receive, to allow, to do as one pleases, or to wait for; and pronounced tìng means to rule, to sentence or to allow. 督 means to supervise or to watch. 使 shĭ means to use, to dispatch on an errand, to call, to allow, to suppose, or to be posted as a foreign correspondent. 輔 means to help, to assist, complementary or auxillary. 建 jiàn means to establish, to found or to build. 委 wěi means to utilize, to dispatch, to delegate, to discard, to make excuses, indeed, committee member or in an abbreviated form ‘committee’, and when pronounced wēi it means winding or curved. 束 shù means to prick, to tie, to control, to limit or to link. 結 jié means to use a rope, thread or bandage to fasten or weave, and also means alliance, organisation, to form, to coagulate or to complete. When pronounced jiē, it can mean to produce fruits or seeds in reference to a plant. 秉 bĭng means to grasp or according to. 藏 cáng means to hide, to elude or to store. Pronounced zàng it means storehouse or depository. 解 jiě means to cut open, to release, to eliminate, to understand, to explain, and to facilitate the passage of a stool or urine. 卻 què means retreat, decline, refuse, go, fall, or to put on the contrary. 勞 láo  means to labour, to work, arduous, exhausting, feat, to worry about, to take the trouble, to politely ask for help, or to express sympathy. 迎 yíng means to welcome, to connect, or opposing. 厥 jué means to faint, and has come to describe terminal stage illness through its use in naming the deepest level of pathological invasion according to the Shāng Hán Lùn. 泣 means to whimper or to tear. This character appears in the points 頭臨泣 tóulínqì GB15 and 足臨泣 zúlínqì GB41. Now, 頭 tóu means head, skull, hair, starting or finishing point, pointy part, beginning, first (position), leader or reminder; while足 means foot, and can also mean full, substantial or worthwhile; and 臨 lín means arrive, approach, face, to be about to, or to copy written characters. As these points are used to treat pain and move qì their names could be interpreted as ‘a point on the head which you could want to needle if the patient is close to tears’ and ‘a point on the foot which you could want to needle which if the patient is close to tears’.

There are point names which relate to time and frequency. 期 means period, occasion, hope, desire, or to fix a date. 然 rán means affirmative, this way, or ‘but’. 復 may mean repeat, and, again, return, to restore, complex and not singular. 元 yuán means first, start, primal or dollar. 本 bĕn means root, stem, origin, important, centre, of one’s own side, original, (book) volume, funds, and according to. 輒 zhé means at once, always, and in former times meant the luggage rack on the flanks of a chariot, from which 輒筋 zhéjīn GB23 derives its meaning, being located as it is on the lateral aspect of the chest, only one thumb-width anterior to the mid-axillary plane, in the fifth intercostal space. 筋 jīn means tendon, visible veins, or something resembling a tendon like the strings of a piano which give this instrument the name literally translated as ‘steel-tendons’. 急 means fretful, urgent, fast, fierce or rescue. 瘈 chì means mad or spasm.

There are parts of names of acupuncture points relating to virtues and defects. 俠 xiá is used to formally indicate people with martial arts strength, who are loyal to their friends, willing to help the weak, and who eliminate violent people or activity. 率 shùai means to lead, honest and straightforward, not meticulous, approximate, and when pronounced it means rate. 滑 huá means slippery, slide, cunning or dishonest. Incidentally, 溜 liū also means slippery, but instead it can also mean to slide down, to creep off or to fry with cornstarch. 赫 hè means outstanding or magnificent. 敦 dūn means sincere, honest, or kind and generous, which is precisely what the energy of the liver is, and which the point 大敦 dàdūn LV1 is able to draw on. 真 zhēn means genuine, clear, or the original appearance of a thing. 彧 means to be cultured, or to be accomplished or elegant. 信 xìn means sincere, to keep one’s word, reliable, news, letter, evidence, or ‘as one likes’. 不 indicates the negative of a meaning, while it can also mean doubtful or to deny.

The point names can describe the course of the channels on which they are positioned. 差 chāi means discrepancy, difference or mistake, and in the case of 曲差 qūchāi BL4, presumably refers to the sharp notch in the path of the bladder channel at this point, much in the same manner that 列 liè (meaning to arrange in a sequence, to arrange, each or numerous) and 缺 quē (meaning lack, deficiency, vacant post, to run short of, or scarce) combine to form 列缺 LU7 at the only point on the lung channel of the forearm which swings the channel to the lateral aspect, and before it swings immediately back to the anterior aspect. Pronounced chāi, 差 means to send, to commission, messenger or mission. 缺 also combines with the character 盆 pén to construct the name 缺盆 quēpén for ST12. 盆 means basin or flower pot. To describe the space behind the clavicle as a basin is imaginative as it is fitting, as this space is smooth and curved, and yes, being 缺, it is without contents too.

There are points that indicate people and interpersonal relationship. 宗 zōng means ancestor, relative or important. 孫 sūn means grandchild or of the generation two or more below one’s own. 公 gōng means public, national, international, communal, announce, duke, husband’s father, male animal, and can be used as a term of address for one’s grandfather’s generation.  儷 means to pair up or ‘husband and wife’, and considering 兌duì means exchange, one may reflect on how there are certain strictly defined customs when it comes to exchanges between a husband and wife as in 儷兌 lìduì ST45. 人 rén means person, adult, other, or all (people). The point 人中 rénzhōng GV26 literally meaning ‘person’s centre’ follows the idea in China that a person’s identity resides in the centre of their face. Remember, it is thought in Chinese medicine that when we are awake, the spirit, which resides in our heart’s when we are asleep, rises up fill the facial personality when we open our eyes. It follows that when a Chinese person points to themselves, they point to their nose, in the proximity of 人中, whereas growing up surrounded by Western culture one would have learnt to point to their chest when pointing to themselves.

Some characters that have come to represent parts of the names of acupuncture points represent conditions and states of being. 哀 āi means feeling sorrowful or upset, mourning, or bitterness. 啞 means mute, silent, or else having muddled and unintelligible speech. 強 qiáng means strong, to a great extent, additional, to strive one’s hardest, rough, rude, good or superior. Pronounced jiàng it means stubborn or unyielding. 意 means meaning, desire, intent, to reveal the mood, or to expect. 意舍 yìshè BL49 relates to the stomach as it is parallel to 胃俞 wèishū BL21 that is the shū point of the stomach.  As a point that is on the outer bladder channel of the back it follows the trend of relating to pyscho-emotional disorders of the respective organ denoted by the inner back shū point on the same level according to the vertebrae. Pensiveness relates to the earth organs of the spleen and stomach, and just as the stomach churns on ingested food, the mind churns on meaning in the process of thinking . 舍 means house, a polite way of saying one’s house or family members, or (in old times) the movement of troops a distance of thirty miles; while when pronounced shē it means to give up, to abandon, or to give alms.

Chinese characters each have their own identity which usually embodies several associated meanings into one. Differences in words may be no more than an alternative meaning among several. For a word to be most useful, it might do well to hold some degree of unique significance. As a friend of mine once said, every individual word may be thought of as being distinguishable in meaning from every other word by some difference, however subtle that may be. Every acupuncture point might by the same token hope to bear some aspect within its scope of action that makes it not quite like any other point, lest it be perpetually overlooked as a point of irrelevance. However, should the practitioner, while formulating a point combination in his or her head during those preparatory moments before the performance of an acupuncture treatment, be unable to recall any subtle discrepancy in action between two or more points, I might imagine that should they versed in Chinese language, that a particular point may spring to mind not only because of its name, but also because of what the point's name sounded like. For instance, 玉堂 yùtáng CV18, 紫宮 zǐgōng CV19 and 華蓋 huágài CV20 are all said to expand the chest and cause qì to descend, but 紫宮 is also a homophone of 子宮, meaning uterus; so if per chance treating pain in the chest at the same time as treating painful periods, this point may just happen to come to the practitioner's mind ahead of the other two, and the practitioner may therefore select it instead of the others. Such is the relatively narrow range of sounds used in Chinese language, that connections between apparently unrelated phenomena can easily be fancied, and this can often play great influence towards in a Chinese speaker's sense of humour, if not towards their thinking in the broader sense. Though point selection according to names may be regarded as an unfounded rationale, it may in reality sway the selection of traditional Chinese acupuncture points like a good piece of advertising.

Should you have read this far, you may well note that there is herein, for the most part, little effort made in figuring out what the original designator of these ancient names exactly had in mind on the fateful day that they dubbed what has ever since remained unchanged. In may instances, it is just logical or self-explanatory, and on the other hand, not imposing my own interpretation might just permit a more relevant interpretation by the reader themselves. In this article of reference for the English-speaking Chinese medicine practitioner who might like to learn more about the depth of the Chinese language as it is associated with acupuncture points, it is necessary to keep in mind that the name of an acupuncture point does not determine its function. Often however, some element of sense can be drawn between the function or location of an acupuncture point and its name, and this connection may thus facilitating cognitive recollection of the point and its nature.

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