Category Archives: Ear problems

In the Flow

Pangguangshu – Bladder Shu – Bladder 28

River FlowWinter usually brings a wave of Water related conditions and issues into the  treatment room. As the high tide of the year moves through the Water Element, it puts pressure on any existing imbalances in Water. This can include lower back pain and stiffness, cold invading the body, urinary system dysfunction, problems with the bladder, kidneys, ears and bones, fears and phobias, and reduced perseverance.

As we age, the lifelong decline in our Kidney Qi begins to affect all of these resonances of the Water Element. And the cold of the winter creates added pressure on our declining resources. This inspires some to migrate to warmer climate zones such as Queensland.

An acupoint that offers support for conditions of the waterworks is Pangguangshu, Bladder 28. This is the shu point of Bladder and treats that organ directly. The shu points are particularly useful in treating chronic conditions, those that have become entrenched for some time.

Bladder shu is used to treat difficult, painful, hesitant and frequent urination. These symptoms are associated with an enlarged prostate, and so the point is very helpful for treating the prostate conditions which afflict many older men. It is also used to treat cystitis which is an inflammation of the urinary tract, usually caused by infection. The effect of Pangguangshu also extends to the genitals, treating such conditions as swelling, pain or itching of the external genitals.

Bladder 28 is also useful in treating lower back pain as well as pain or stiffness in the sacrum, coccyx and buttocks. It has an influence over the Kidneys and can be used in combination with the Kidney shu point, Bladder 23. (See article here.) Because of its influence over the lower burner, it can be used to treat lower abdominal pain and fullness, and constipation caused by Qi stagnation.

At the psycho-emotional level, stagnation in the Bladder expresses as difficulty managing one’s resources and reserves. This can produce a sense of urgency and anxiety about life, leading to a tendency to use effort and willpower to push through obstacles in the way. There is an apt expression for this, ‘pushing the river’, which suggests using draining effort rather than going with the flow.

Zhi is the spirit of Water. It is often translated as will. When our Water Element is in balance and harmony, the power that fuels action arises naturally and spontaneously from true will that is not dependent on a pushing, urgent, straining effort. Pangguangshu can help to keep us in the flow.

Location of Bladder 28

BL 28


The point is 1.5 cun lateral to the midline at the level of the second sacral foramen (hollow). Find the top of the sacrum and go two fingers width below this and two fingers width lateral to find the point.

Neck Problems Sorted

Tianchuang – Heavenly Window – Small Intestine 16

neck problemI am currently rewriting the manual for my Five Element Acupressure courses. In doing so, I am making a change to one of the points in the palette of 50 points introduced in Level 1. For over 30 years I have been practising and teaching the basic neck release which I learned in the first acupressure class I took in 1985. One of these points, known as the Extra Neck Point, is not a meridian point, and serves as a kind of surrogate for the many other meridian points in the neck. The change I am making is to replace the extra neck point with the meridian point that is anatomically closest to it. This is Small Intestine 16, Tianchuang (Heavenly Window).

The Small Intestine meridian is the go-to meridian for neck and shoulder pain, so it is appropriate to choose the SI point in the middle of the neck. It fits well with two other SI points of the neck and shoulders release, SI 10 and SI 11. It treats neck pain, shoulder pain which radiates to the neck, and stiffness of the neck which causes difficulty in turning the head to the side. Also at the physical level, Tianchuang treats throat pain, loss of voice, lockjaw, deafness, tinnitus and ear pain.

This point is also important as one of the category of points known as the Windows of the Sky, or Windows of Heaven. (The tian part of the name means heaven.) Modern TCM texts tend to prescribe these points to clear congestion in the sense organs, interpreting tian as a reference to the head, rather than anything mystical or spiritual; and disorders where the Qi of the head is in disharmony with the Qi of the body.

Five Element practitioners have come to regard these Windows of Heaven points as also having a deeper psyhoemotional, or even psychospiritual effect. When a person has lost connection to True Nature, that which transcends the body and the small self, then these points are called for. By ‘opening the window’, the client is supported to see beyond the obscurations that have clouded his view. Each Window point is used in the context of the issues of its corresponding official. The primary function of the Small Intestine official, the Sorter, is to sort the pure from the impure. The small intestine organ itself sorts the nutrition from the waste of the food we eat. At a higher level, if we are unable to sort out what is good for us at emotional, psychological and spiritual levels, then Tianchuang can help. Ultimately, the Sorter’s role is to protect the Heart, Emperor of the kingdom. A healthy Sorter knows what is good for us and can therefore be let into the inner sanctum, and what is not good for us and needs to be kept out.

Location of Small Intestine 16

SI 16


At the back border of the sternocleidomastoid muscle, at the level of the laryngeal prominence (Adam’s apple). If you turn your head to the left against resistance, the muscle on the right side of the neck becomes prominent.

Holding Up the Heavens

Tianzhu – Heavenly Pillar – Bladder 10

2.15Neck problems are endemic in these days of extensive computer and mobile phone usage, activities which cause us to look down, increasing the force upon the neck. One of the best points for treating the neck lies at the first cervical vertebra, the atlas. In Greek mythology Atlas was the Titan who was punished by Zeus for making war on Olympus. He was condemned to stand at the western edge of the world, holding up the heavens on his shoulders. Hence his name was given to the first cervical vertebra which holds up the head.

This western myth finds a surprising parallel in the point Tianzhu – Heavenly Pillar which lies in the neck on the outer edge of the atlas vertebra and on the lateral border of the trapezius muscle. The cervical spine and the two trapezius muscles can be viewed as the pillars that hold up the head.

Tianzhu is an effective point in treating neck pain, particularly the upper neck. Much upper cervical pain derives from the atlas being misaligned or lacking freedom of movement. This can produce difficulty turning the head, headaches, dizziness or blurred vision, all of which can be treated by this point.

But Heavenly Pillar is far more than a quick fix until you see your chiropractor. The tian in the point name means heaven and alerts us to the fact that this is one of the Windows of Heaven, sometimes known as the Windows of the Sky. These points are used to bring harmony between the upper body (heaven) and lower body (earth) and are also used to treat conditions of the orifices (windows) of the head. This window has a particular effect upon the eyes, treating pain and redness of the eyes and chronic tearing. It is also useful for nasal congestion, difficulty smelling, and swelling of the throat with difficulty speaking.

Five Element practitioners also make use of these Windows of Heaven points in ways that address the deeper psycho-emotional aspects of their clients. The positive qualities or gifts of the Element to which a point relates can be called forth from the point and supported in the client. In this case, Tianzhu evokes the qualities of Water which include will, courage, endurance, trust and reassurance.

When a person feels unable to hold himself up, feels unsupported to move forward in life, or feels that his legs are too weak to support his body, this point is called for. If a person’s movement through life is impeded by chronic fear, if he feels frightened by what lies in the future, or has grown anxious from an overload of work, Tianzhu can bring reassurance that things will be ok. It helps the person to access the true will that arises from zhi, the spirit of Water. This can clear the brain, bring a fresh view and an openness to the future. It allows the person to stand tall, hold his head up high, and look forward with confidence. At its depth, Heavenly Pillar restores trust in the knowledge that true nature is our ultimate support.

2.16Location of Bladder 10


At the top of the neck, on the outer border of the trapezius muscle, 0.5 cun below the occipital hollow and 1.3 cun lateral to the midline. Treat both sides at the same time, applying gentle pressure directed slightly towards the spine.


This is an extract from The Way of the Five Elements by John Kirkwood (Singing Dragon 2016)

Order now from Book Depository UK