Tag Archives: BL 23

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.

Fire of the Gate of Life

Mingmen – Gate of Life – Governing Vessel 4

2.9There is surely no point name more exalted than Mingmen – Gate of Life. It goes to the very core of our existence on this plane, our life itself. It is a very powerful point which accesses the gate where we emerge from the void with our essence, our constitution and our destiny. This point can help us reach our full potential and fulfil our destiny.

Although according to the Five Elements the Kidneys belong to Water, they are also the source of Fire in the body, which is called mingmen, the “Fire of the Gate of Life”. This Fire is needed for our survival as warm blooded animals and fuels all activity. When the Gate of Life is open, it provides free access to this Fire and there is vitality, sparkle and zest for life. If the gate begins to close, there is diminishment and depletion.

Mingmen is a remarkable point for revitalisation. It can reconnect us with our essence, raise us to a new level of consciousness, and support the achievement of our highest potential. It is a point that helps us connect us with our original nature.

Lying as it does on the spine between the Kidney shu points (BL 23), Mingmen powerfully tonifies Kidney Qi and supports the Water Element. If there is timidity, it offers courage; if there is forgetfulness and disorientation, it clears the consciousness; if there is depression or emotional withdrawal, it coaxes the person to reengage with the world.

Gate of Life addresses the crucial Fire/Water balance in the body, and therefore treats both hot and cold conditions. It clears heat conditions such as a feeling of burning up as well as chills alternating with fever. More commonly it is used to treat cold conditions such as feeling cold all over the body, especially in the low back and belly, incontinence and abundant, clear urination.

It addresses reproductive disorders such as frigidity, impotence, infertility, irregular menstruation and menstrual pain caused by cold in the uterus. Other conditions include tinnitus, poor memory, haemorrhoids and prolapse of the rectum. It is an excellent point for stiffness, rigidity and pain in the low back and lumbar pain that radiates to the abdomen

This is an important point of focus in Qi Gong exercises and is known to be one of the places on the spine where it is more difficult to move energy, one of the three “tricky gates”. (The others are at the coccyx and the occiput.)

In people who have experienced a chronic, debilitating illness, this point is usually empty and needs considerable attention to persuade it to open. However it has the power to reconnect with the jing or essence and restore a person to health and vitality, a capacity reflected in its alternate name, Palace of Essence.



Location of Governing Vessel 4


On the spine, between the 3rd and 4th lumbar vertebrae, approximately at the level of the navel. Use direct, moderate pressure.



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. (123 days to go!)

Hun – The Spirit of Wood

Tia In the cycadSpring is now well advanced and will soon be merging into summer. Before we leave the realm of Wood, let us go a little deeper and explore this Element at the level of spirit.

In Chinese medicine, each of the Five Elements corresponds to one of the five spirits. In a way, the spirit is more fundamental; the qualities and attributes of an Element arise out of the nature of its spirit.

The spirit of Wood is hun which occupies the realm of the clouds, lighter than earth but containing enough density to keep it near the earth and not fly away to heaven.

Of all the five spirits, the hun is closest to the western concept of the soul.  In fact the character hun is usually translated as Ethereal Soul. The hun enters the body after birth and at death it leaves through the top of the head. It then ascends to the stars whereupon it reports to the spirits that preside over destiny on the degree to which each of us has cultivated virtue during our life.

During our lifetime, it is the hun which bestows the gifts of Wood upon us. A healthy hun allows us to be clear about our purpose in life, find our path, know where we’re going and orient ourselves in that direction. It is what helps us to navigate the rapids of life. The hun is like the map and compass of our soul.

It is said that during the day the hun resides in the eyes to help us to see how we can act in ways that best serve our life purpose. At night when we sleep, the hun descends to the liver where it organises our dreams. Thus the hun acts as an intermediary between our waking and sleeping states.

If the hun is imbalanced, then our sleeping and dreaming may be disrupted. We might suffer from sleep disturbances, sleepwalking, intense dreaming or no dreams at all. In extreme cases we may find it difficult to distinguish between dreams and reality. Out of body experiences, near death experiences, seeing ghosts and spirits, are all associations of the hun.

The classics say that the liver houses the hun, therefore anything that damages the liver also injures the hun. Anger that does not flow freely and gets stuck in the body will damage the liver. It is also easily upset by alcohol and drugs. Marijuana is particularly harmful to the hun. While it might seem to endow us with cleverness, creativity and vision when we are intoxicated, over time these very qualities are eroded and we lose both purpose and vitality.

The hun can also be injured by psychological scarring. In childhood the hun needs psychological support. If a child is severely constrained in his freedom, constantly criticised for his actions or emotionally deprived, the hun cannot develop freely. If there is alcoholism or abuse in the home, the development of the hun is harmed. In later life too, overwhelming emotional experiences can disturb the hun.

The hun spirit needs a healthy liver to be invited to stay in our body. Hun’s nature is to wander like a cloud. When its home in our body is unhealthy and uninviting, it will tend to fly away, leaving us bereft of its capacities of clarity, vision and purpose.

The hun spirit is what allows us to bring our heavenly nature into earthly form and manifestation. When in balance it is the source of our dreams and visions, aims and projects, our creativity and ideas, all of which can find expression in physical form in life on earth. A healthy hun is what we need to live a conscious and effective life as a being of spirit in a physical body.

Supporting Hun with Bladder 47 – Hunmen

This point on the Bladder meridian is called Gate of the Ethereal Soul. It lies at the same level as the Liver Shu point (BL 18) and lateral to it.

Hunmen is a great point for cleansing the liver organ, treating addictions, and for supporting the healthy functioning of the spirit of Wood. By clearing away this stagnation in the Liver Qi, Hunmen can resurrect the spirit and activate the core of a person’s being.

This point also treats sleep disturbances and insomnia by settling the hun spirit during the time of sleep and allowing us to access the wisdom of dreams as they pertain to our life purpose.

When anger and resentment have solidified and been turned inward upon oneself, Hunmen can be used to release and mobilise this energy into the service of taking action. Wood that has become rigid and inert can become supple and active, providing the means to express the uniqueness of our individual self in the world.

Location of Bladder 47

BL 47Located on the back, about two fingers width below the bottom of the shoulder blade and four fingers width (3 cun) out from the spine. It is level with the space between the 9th and 10th thoracic vertebrae.