Category Archives: Anger


I’ve been watching some World Cup matches lately, following the Australia and England teams through their tense encounters. While I haven’t been measuring my blood pressure, I am sure that it was elevated during the games, especially in England’s penalty shootout with Colombia. Excitement, anxiety, anger, fear, worry, shock – all of these emotions have an effect on blood pressure. It is well known that the anxiety of having your blood pressure taken by a doctor tends to elevate the reading.

Hypertension is the long-term elevation of blood pressure, a condition that poses health risks. One of its features is that it has no symptoms, so we can be in danger without even knowing it. Another complicating factor is that there is no clear agreement about what is a dangerous level of blood pressure. Broadly speaking, normal blood pressure is between 90/60 and 120/80. * Above 140/90 is considered hypertension, while anything over 180/120 is considered severe and requiring immediate attention.

Long-term hypertension causes damage to the arteries, with the risk of rupture (aneurysm). This includes possible rupture of the blood vessels of the brain, leading to stroke. The heart is also affected by hypertension with risks of coronary artery disease and possible heart failure.

It’s no wonder that doctors are quick to prescribe medications that will lower blood pressure, but these also have side effects. Ways to lower blood pressure by lifestyle changes include losing weight, lowering fats and sugars in the diet, eating more fibre, avoiding tobacco and alcohol, and exercising regularly. Reducing the stressors in your life is key, and you can help this by mindfulness practices, meditating, practising Qigong or Tai Chi. And of course, getting Acupressure treatments.

Early in my career I discovered the power of Acupressure treatments in general, and the use of Gall Bladder 21 in particular, to lower blood pressure. A client regularly monitored her BP before treatment, after treatment, and when she got home. The reading was always lower at the end of the session, but even lower still when she got home after driving on the California freeways!

Since then Gall Bladder 21 has been my favourite point for hypertension, but there are many more. A quick look at my primary references, Deadman and Jarmey, show these 26 points as indicated for hypertension:

Meridian Element Points
Lung Metal 7
Large Intestine Metal 4, 11, 15
Stomach Earth 9, 36, 40, 41
Spleen Earth 6
Small Intestine Fire 3
Kidney Water 1, 6
Heart Protector Fire 6, 8, 9
Triple Heater Fire 5
Gall Bladder Wood 20, 21, 34, 43
Liver Wood 2, 3
Governor Vessel 14, 16, 20, 26

I was interested to note that 16 of these 26 points are in the 51 Point Palette in my Level 1 Five Element Acupressure course, meaning that they are quite common points with other uses. You might also observe that two-thirds of the points are on yang meridians, and that many of the points are used for reducing yang or to descend Qi. This of course addresses the nature of the condition which is one of excess yang.

It doesn’t make sense to use all of these points. For a start, it would make for a very long session and probably too much treatment. When treating, I find it most powerful to use point combinations, a focal point with one hand, while the other hand holds several other related points in succession.

Drawing from the points list above, here are some suggestions for some point combinations that I use often in the treatment room. Most of these points link to previous articles. For the others, consult your point location book or internet search.

Note that Large Intestine 4 and Spleen 6 are forbidden during pregnancy. If you are  treating a pregnant client, omit these points.

Focal Point Related Points
Large Intestine 4 Large Intestine 11,  15;  Lung 7
Stomach 36 Stomach 40,  Spleen 6
Kidney 6 Kidney 1,  Lung 7
Triple Heater 5 Heart Protector 6,  8,  9
Gall Bladder 21 Gall Bladder 20,  34;  Stomach 36;  Large Intestine 4
Liver 3 Spleen 6,  Gall Bladder 34
Governor Vessel Small Intestine 3 + Governor Vessel 14,  16,  20

How do you choose which pattern to use? One way is to consider the person you are treating. Which Element and emotion is presenting? If the person is someone who is predominantly angry, who gets outraged at injustice, or alternatively suppresses anger, then focus on the Wood points of Gall Bladder and Liver. If the person is a caretaker, constantly putting the needs of others before self, or if obesity is a problem, then treat the Earth points of Stomach and Spleen. Or maybe the person is showing their Metal, hanging on, perfectionistic, grieving or suppressing grief, then treat the Metal points of Lung and Large Intestine. If the person’s predominant emotion is fearfulness or conspicuous absence of fear, focus on Water points of Kidney. Or if the person is over-excited and chaotic or heart-broken and joyless, focus on the Fire points of Small Intestine, Triple Heater and Heart Protector. Points of the Governor Vessel will be helpful for everyone.

It is best if you can receive treatment from someone else. That way you can relax into the treatment, focus on your breathing and generally slow down. If you are treating yourself, some of these combinations will be awkward if not impossible, in which case treat the points individually in the order suggested.

I hope this has given you some ideas on how to help reduce blood pressure in a natural way that can support a medical approach.  Good luck to your team in the World Cup and hold points during penalty shootouts!


* BP is expressed as a measurement with two numbers, with one number on top and one on the bottom. For example, 120/80 mm Hg. The top number refers to the amount of pressure in the arteries during the contraction of the heart muscle (systolic). The bottom number refers to the pressure between heartbeats (diastolic).

Rising Above Life’s Tears

Toulinqi – Head Above Tears – Gall Bladder 15

above-tearsSoon this long, cold, wet spring will transition to summer. Time for one last Wood point before we move on to the Fire Element.

Toulinqi is a point that is regarded quite differently in the Five Element tradition when compared to the TCM tradition. TCM practitioners regard this as a minor point and little used. When it is utilised, it is for headache, nasal congestion, eye pain, tearing or lack of tearing. It helps to dispel wind that has invaded the body.

In the Five Element tradition it is more often used to address mental and emotional conditions. Recently I used this point on a client who was feeling confused and lacked mental clarity. As I held the two points, which lie just inside the hairline above the eyes, I had the sense that the client’s eyes were rising up her forehead to meet my fingers. This strange notion was validated when I read that Toulinqi  helps a person to get a better sense of perspective, to see further and more widely in the context of her life. If your eyes were to rise up into your hairline, you’d certainly be able to see further!

Head Above Tears is one translation of Toulinqi. Others include Head Overlooking Tears, Head Governor of Tears, Head Before Crying, and Treating Tears. While eyes watering from the wind is certainly one use of the point, it can also be used where a person has difficulty crying, or where frustration has become so extreme as to burst into tears. Readers may remember that last spring we looked at a point in the foot named Foot Above Tears. This can be used to drain excess Qi from the Gall Bladder meridian and to relieve frustration and headache. Head Above Tears is its natural partner and the two can be treated at the same time.

The Gall Bladder Official’s job is to make decisions and to take action in the world. Where there is strong moving back and forth between highs and lows, action and inaction, elation and despair, this point is called for. It helps a person who is tense and uptight, inflexible and only able to see a single course of action.

Dizziness and visual disturbance can sometimes be the result of a difference between our inner and outer reality. When there is a disconnect between inner vision and outer vision. Toulinqi helps to reconcile these differences.

Gall Bladder 15 can give us a wider perspective on life, allowing us to make better sense of its patterns, to rise above the tangled thickets of our inner confusion and to see the bigger picture of our place in the cosmos.

Location of Gall Bladder 15



Directly above the pupil when the eye is looking forward, and 0.5 cun inside the hairline.

Tears of Frustration

Apologies for the delay in this post. I’ve been busy getting the manuscript of  a second book ‘Seasons of Life’ to the publishers, extracts of which will soon be appearing in this space.

Zulinqi – Foot Above Tears – Gall Bladder 41

3.11Most of us have had the experience of becoming so frustrated with something or someone that we burst into tears. Anger and frustration become so pent up that they find a release through crying. Such an emotional state is usually an indication of an imbalance in Wood which can be treated by the Gall Bladder point Zulinqi – Foot Above Tears.

Wood that is healthy and moving freely aids us in finding a clear path around the apparent obstacles that life presents, like the plant that pushes its way through the cracks in the footpath. When Wood is not healthy, there are two polarised responses to obstacles: a repeated pushing against an immovable impediment resulting in frustration; or a collapse into inaction, defeat and giving up.

Zulinqi helps to resolve such polarised attitudes by strengthening all the resonances of Wood. It supports new ventures and putting your best foot forward as you move into action; provides a clear perspective of where you are and where you are headed; and helps with making good judgements and taking bold decisions. It treats Gall Bladder timidity where a person is fearful of taking action, and relieves depression caused by collapsed Wood. It helps to settle the person who is continually angry, frustrated and resentful.

Zulinqi supports the Wood in two ways. Firstly it smooths and clears the Gall Bladder channel, the complex pathway that begins at the outer corner of the eye and traverses the head, neck, shoulders, ribcage, hip, side of the leg and foot. Clearing this channel supports flexibility of the mind and body in negotiating a smooth path through life. Secondly, the point strongly supports the smooth spreading of Liver Qi, allowing it to ascend to fuel action and promote free respiration.

As the exit point of Gall Bladder meridian, it drains congested Qi from the upper reaches of the channel, especially from the head. Holding this point is like taking the plug out of a bath to drain it. Thus it can treat headaches, especially at the back and top of the head, visual distortion, dizziness and tinnitus.

As the Wood point of a Wood meridian, Foot Above Tears has an energising effect on the Element. It shakes the tree, rouses the Wood: Wake up, let’s go, it’s time to move! Element of the Element points such as this also function as horary points (from the Latin hora meaning hour). According to the Chinese meridian clock, the high tide of the Qi flow passes through Gall Bladder meridian between 11pm and 1am. Therefore the point has a greater influence during this time. People who have difficulty falling asleep at this time of night may find the point conducive.

Zulinqi has another role as the master point of the Dai Mai (Girdling Vessel), one of the Eight Extraordinary Vessels, and the only one that does not have a longitudinal trajectory. It passes round the back at the waist, dropping lower towards the pelvis in front, like the low slung belts that were iconic fashion items in the 80s. This vessel binds the Penetrating and Conception Vessels, and the Liver, Spleen and Kidney meridians, all of which influence the menstrual cycle. This powerful master point therefore regulates menstruation and treats PMT which so often comes with tears. It also helps with infertility, vaginal discharge, abdominal fullness and lumbar pain. It relieves the low back and hip pain of pregnancy.

Locally, it treats pain and swelling on the top of the foot, and helps to heal the most common of foot fractures at the fifth metatarsal.

Some say that frustration is a motivating force that leads to success. I would suggest it is a sign that Wood is getting stuck. Zulinqi can help to unblock the logjam and free the energy for directed, purposeful action.


3.12Location of Gall Bladder 41

On the top of the foot, in the depression below the junction of the 4th and 5th metatarsals. Draw up between the fourth and fifth toes, cross over the tendon of extensor digitorum longus and drop into the hollow. Apply direct pressure. The point is often quite sensitive.




This is an extract from the forthcoming book ‘The Way of the Five Elements’ by John Kirkwood, Singing Dragon Press. Publication date November 21st, 2015. You can now pre-order this book at Fishpond, Book Depository and other online booksellers. (76 days to go!)