This article originally appeared in the Pacific Journal of Chinese Medicine, in the Autumn Edition of 1995.
Edward Obaidey lives and practices acupuncture in Tokyo and can be contacted here.
The Governor vessel originates in the uterus for women and the kidneys for men, it then emerges between the external genitalia and the anus and rises up along the spine to the back of the head.
It then proceeds over the top of the head entering the brain at Bai Hui, Du 20 and then continues at the midline over the forehead down to the tip of the nose and lip; it terminates behind the base of the lower lip.
In the Nan Gyo Gi Gen Kai written by the famous Japanese Oriental medical doctor Ippo Okamoto in 1706 in the Edo period, he states that three extra meridians are said to originate in these areas; they are the Governor, Conception and Thrusting vessels.
Also in the Zo Fu Kei Raku Sho Kai (written in 1690) Okamoto states the same. Nan Gyo, The Classic of Difficulties, ch. 36 mentions that the essence from which the Governor vessel arises is to be found in the kidneys (specifically the right one) for men and the uterus for women.
It should be noted that the point Hui Yang BI 35 is included as part of the Governor vessel, this is actually mentioned in the classics Ko Itsu Kyo, So Mon Ji Chu and the Myaku Gaku Ki Kei where it mentions Hui Yang as part of the Governor vessel. On the Conception vessel there is a point called Hui Yin meaning ‘gathering Yin’ (in this case relating to the anus and the vagina and penis), so it is logical that there should be point called Hui
Yang ‘gathering Yang’ (in this case referring to the back Qi and the meeting with the Bladder meridian at this point.
A selection of clinically useful points
There are many useful points. Here are a few of them.
- Chang Qiang Du 4
This point is of course good for haemorrhoids, bladder infections and posteriorly tilted uterus. It is also used in
conjunction with the point Ya Men Du 15 as one of the greatest tranquillisers of all time. In cases of severe depression, anxiety and insomnia an electric pulse (purists stand out of my way!) is passed between the two points at a frequency slightly lower than the patient’s heart rate for 30 minutes at a strength that is comfortable to them.
- Ming Men Du 4
This point is best used with moxa.
It is of course useful for kidney problems, back and knee weakness, diarrhoea, posteriorly tilted uterus, chilled lower
stomach and legs.
The writer also uses it to increase sperm count by means of direct scarring moxibustion cones 2-3 times a week. Also as far as increasing the strength of the immune system in concerned, direct scarring moxibustion to Ming Men is a must. For any children’s disease as well, this point in combination with Du 12 Shen Zhu is absolutely essential
- Jin Suo Du 8
This point literally means ‘muscle contraction’ and is used for any problems involving muscular tone. It is situated between the Liver shu (yu) points so it is obviously used for Liver problems. The writer has used it for chronic stiff necks and shoulders brought about by excessive drinking and fatigue.
After a general treatment direct moxa (rice grain size cones) to fin Suo really loosens up the stubborn underlying tension. Often this tension memory, a holding pattern which the brain can stubbornly cling to is still present after the physical pattern has been dispersed. In these cases the point fin Suo is ideal (remember the Governor vessel runs into the brain).
One case I recall really showed the writer the value of this point. It concerns one of my patients who was seeing me to aid her pregnancy. She had had a history of miscarriages and was aged 32 and in relatively good health. I applied my pregnancy moxibustion procedures (see my article ‘Pregnancy and Moxibustion’ in the Summer 1995 edition of Meeting Point- the Journal of the Australian College of Acupuncturists) and she
wasdoing very well until her sixth month of pregnancy. It was then that she decided to return to her home country. As she and her husband had many friends, she spent the next month or so (despite my warnings) giving and going to farewell parties resulting in total exhaustion. On the last occasion I saw her in my clinic I noticed that her pulse was weak generally, especially in the foot pulse position. I warned her very strongly that her situation was such that she and her baby were in danger and advised her to rest in bed immediately. She was due for a monthly check up at the gynaecologist two days later. After her check up I received a phone call from her in which she shakily
explained that her gynaecologist had examined her and found that her cervix had already begun dilating. The doctor wanted to admit her but somehow she persuaded him to allow her home on the condition that she would be confined to bed and that she should have another check up the next day. She asked me if I could come over at once. I managed to get over to her house during my clinic lunch hour. As I entered the house, my feet were harshly greeted by cold marble floors; this was a big contributing factor I thought (cold floors allow cold to travel up
the Yin meridians right into the womb making it a very inhospitable place for babies), coupled with the fact that she
came to greet me, slowly admittedly, in bare feet. After I examined the pulse I found her kidney meridians to be
extremely deficient so I very, very lightly needled Fu Liu Ki 7 and left them in for ten minutes during which the patient mentioned that she could feel tingling sensations running up the inside of her legs into the womb. After this I removed the needles and checked her back. While examining her I remembered the fact that it is still not certain who triggers the baby to birth, the mother or the baby itself. By treating the Kidney I was regulating the baby to some extent ow for the mother I needed to use a point that could regulate the part of her brain connected with contraction or lack thereof – Du 8 was the immediate point that sprung to mind. I confirmed this by probing her spine with a portable neuro meter reading at two points, namely Du 4 and Du 8. I also confirmed my initial impulse with gentle palpation. I decided not to do any more needling so instead I applied adhesive studs (steel) to these two points and to Fu Liu Ki 8 and Yang Ling Quan Gb 34 (tendo- musculo gathering point).
Two days later she called me and informed me that in her second examination it was found that her cervix had contracted back to the normal size. She was able to fly home and give birth to a healthy baby three months later.
4.Du 12 Shen Zhu
Shen Zhu is located in between the Lung shu (yu) points in between T 3 and T 4. Because it is located between the Lung points which control Qi and also on the Governor vessel which runs into the brain it is one of the major points for treating nervousness and mental disease, as well as of course breathing difficulties and upper respiratory diseases. Also it is used for all types of children’s diseases in combination with Ming Men, Du 4.
The writer has found this point especially useful in asthma. Direct moxibustion is applied to the point (rice grain size 7 times). This calms the patient and opens the chest. It is also very useful when a cold has been hanging around for a long while, causing a heavier than usual emotional/depressive component to the patient.
Also in the classic Wa Kan San Sai Zu E it hints at Shen Zhu being able to improve intelligence … well, if the patient is more settled and breathing better this would mean better concentration, that’s for certain. The writer needs more time to evaluate this, maybe some self experimentation
- Du 14 Da Zhui
This point has the Bladder, Small Intestine, Large Intestine, Triple Heater, Gall Bladder and the Yang maintenance vessels intersect here. This means that this point has an immense potential to regulate the Yang Qi of the bod by torrifying or purging it appropriately. It is one of the all time favourites for almost any type of cold or sore throat Moxibustion is applied at this point until a thin red line spreads out from the point tapering upwards to Du 15.
Another good rule of thumb to remember when applying direct moxibustion (this is for me ‘We can t apply moxibustion to an excess/hear condition brigade) is to apply direct moxibustion until the heat first felt disappears (purging) or apply the moxa until the heat not first felt is finally felt (tonifying . The basic rule is to let the patient’s body inform you as to what to do.
Another thing worth mentioning about this point is that there is reasonable evidence to suggest that Da Zhui is the ‘bone meeting point’
- Ya Men Du 15
The character Ya means ‘dumb, having speech impediment’ whilst Men means ‘gate’. This point then, can be used to help with speech problems or coarse voice from over use. It is also very useful for relaxing the back of the neck and for heavy non specifically located headaches.
The writer has used this point for post influenza coarseness sometimes with great success. The method is to have the patient lie face down and begin needling with the needle facing vertically down towards the throat. The type of needle used is normally a I cun 6 bu of number 2 thickness and it is inserted slowly and gently into the area until resistance is encountered. At this time the practitioner should focus all his concentration on the very tip of the needle and gently almost imperceptibly rotate the needle until the tissue is released and the ‘gate’ opens.
This opening process is normally accompanied by heaviness or running sensations and indicates that the needle no longer needs to be inserted any deeper. The patient should then be instructed to make sounds typically ‘A’, ‘E’, T, ‘0’, ‘U’, whilst the needle is rotated to maintain sensation. The making of vowel sounds (make sure they’re not other sounds like ‘christ’ or ‘help’) whilst being needled seems to free up the vocal chords and results in a smoother softer voice.
- Bai Hui Du 20
The character Bai means ‘one hundred’, Hui meaning ‘meeting or joining’, it can also be used to mean everything or at least a great many things. The meaning of this point then is the location where the energies within and surrounding the organism converge.
Although meridian-wise only the Bladder, Liver and Governor Vessel meet at this point, it is located at the top of the
head in the middle. It is closely linked therefore with the brain. The brain is known as the ‘sea of marrow’ and all the blood and Qi of the body flows in and out of this area. Thus Bai Hui represents the area where the blood and Qi entering and leaving the brain can be regulated.
Indications: anything! For instance, nervousness, insomnia, headaches, tinnitus, hemiplegia, epilepsy, eye problems, back pain, sciatica, anal prolapse etc.
The writer uses this point as the first point in any treatment carried out for any disease. This is because it is regarded as the main aerial or antenna through which all the other points used are activated or gain life. Furthermore because of its direct effect on the brain it allows the ‘matrix’ or ‘blueprint for health’ input by the other points to be received and acted upon more easily. It also relaxes the patient!
Normally it is lightly needled, however for more stubborn problems, it is directly moxed. To avoid burning the hair, it is parted before the moxa cones are placed on the point. Normally seven cones of rice grain size, rolled slightly tighter than for body use are sufficient. Occasionally up to fifty cones may be burnt, however, with great results. When receiving direct moxa to Bai Hui it should feel like a warm or sometimes hot needle being drilled down the body activating the entire system.
- Shang Xing Du 23
The character Shang means ‘upper’ and Xing means ‘star’.This point is the highest point on the head when looking
upwards at the stars. It is one of the most useful points for clearing up sinus problems, sore throats, blocked noses and fevers causing congestion. The writer has also used Shang Xing with singers to great effect to relieve those sore throats and blockages that always seem to plague them one week before a big concert. Shang Xing is located one cun into the hairline directly on a line with the nose, this area should then be pressed firmly with
the fingers or thumb and the most tender spot selected. When infection is present in the upper respiratory tract, Shang Xing will always be very tender, so the writer is of the belief that the meaning of this point could be interpreted to mean the following: ‘the place where the condition of the upper heater is made apparent or shining’. In this manner then, Shang Xing could be used as a test point in diagnosis.
Shang Xing can be needled but it is best to apply direct moxa to this point. The normal method of application is to part the hair and apply seven rice grain size cones rolled tighter than usual to the point. Ideally as the cone bums down, a warmth should be felt flowing down to the tip of the nose following the course of the Governor vessel. For severely blocked noses, coupled with sinusitis this may take four or five sessions but once this effect is achieved, the problem is more or less resolved. Normally for chronic problems, the warmth inches its way down, session by
session before ‘completing the circuit’ as it were.