Tag Archives: Low back pain

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.

Healthy Bones

Shugu – Bone Binder – Bladder 65

10 Bones copyThough we are still in winter, spring is just around the corner. So I decided to choose an acupoint that will help us to make the transition between these seasons. Shugu is the Wood point on a Water meridian and so serves this purpose nicely.

In Five Element Acupuncture and Acupressure, we pay a lot of attention to the different Element points on the meridians. Every meridian has the five Element points on its pathway. These points are found between the fingers and elbows, and between the toes and knees. These points, sometimes called command points, are tools for moving Qi from one Element to another. Shugu is one such point. As the Wood point on a Water meridian, it moves Qi from Water to Wood. Specifically it moves Qi from Bladder to Gall Bladder, thereby sedating Bladder and tonifying Gall Bladder.

In doing so, this point harmonises the relationship between Water and Wood. We might use the metaphor of a tree whose deep roots are able to access the water and nutrients in the soil in order to grow and stay healthy. Shugu likewise enables us as humans to make wise use of our inner resources for optimum growth. It allows us to utilise these resources in service of our vision for the future. It is like hooking up the driveshaft (Water) to the wheels (Wood) so we can go somewhere. When there is drive without vision, will without plans, seed without growth, this point will serve.

As a distal point on the Bladder meridian, Shugu can treat problems of the urinary bladder such as difficult urination and cystitis. Jarrett points to its use in helping kidney stones to smoothly exit the body. The point also treats conditions along the pathway of Bladder, including lumbar pain, neck pain, headache and sore, painful eyes. Furthermore, it helps clear heat from the body, including fever and the heat-related condition of haemorrhoids.

But what of the reference to bones? The bones are governed by the Water Element because they are the tissues that are deepest in the body. As the Wood point of Bladder, Shugu encourages the healthy growth of bones and supports the healing of fractures, hence the name Bone Binder.

In the Chinese Tongshu calendar, spring begins at the point midway between the winter solstice and the vernal equinox. For us here in the southern hemisphere, that means August 7th. You might try holding this bony point to smooth your passage into springtime.

Location of Bladder 65



On the outside of the foot in a depression posterior and inferior to the head of the 5th metatarsal. Run your finger up the side of your foot from the little toe until you find the large bony prominence half way along. Now go back towards the toe until your finger falls into a depression.

Where there is Will

When intent becomes permanent, we speak of Will. (Neijing)

As we traverse the last weeks of winter, let’s examine again the spirit of Water, Zhi, which is often translated as Will.

Weight lifterSeveral years ago I became quite ill and began working with a naturopath. She prescribed an apothecary of supplements for physical purification and strongly recommended a Vipassana retreat for spiritual purification.

For those who don’t know about Vipassana retreats, they are the black belt, hard-core, take-no-prisoners style of meditation retreats. For 10 days you don’t speak, don’t look anyone in the eye, eat only two meals a day, get up at 4 am and go to bed after 9, meditate for 10 hours a day, often without moving a muscle for an hour at a time. What is more, I did my retreat at the winter solstice in Melbourne where the temperature fell below freezing at night.

I thought at the time that this was the hardest thing I’d ever done. It required tremendous willpower and effort to stay the course and not leave after even the first day. Every day, every hour, required me to continually rededicate myself to the practice.

When I was released from prison on the tenth day, I felt a tremendous sense of freedom and great satisfaction at having stayed the course. Unexpectedly, I found that I had much more will. I found I could sit at my desk and write for hours without the usual restlessness. I was able to complete tasks that I would normally put off or do in stages. Somatically, I felt a weighty presence in my belly centre, a bowling ball of will that kept me centred and stable.

These qualities of determination, steadfastness, resilience and power were developed by the initial application of effort, but after a time, the effort was transformed into will. Willpower became true will. Like bending your back to crank the engine until it sparks into life and runs on its own.

These are all resonances of the Water Element, the gifts of Zhi. Here are some suggestions for cultivating Zhi:

  • Do something you’ve never done before
  • Do something for five minutes longer when you’d rather stop
  • Do something very slowly
  • Do something no one would expect you to do
  • Postpone an action you want to do
  • Do something now that you’d prefer to postpone
  • Do a practice every day for a month

For some support in your cultivation of will, hold the acupoint Bladder 52- Zhishi– Residence of the Will which we’ve looked at previously. This point promotes endurance, helps to resolve fear (the emotion of Water), strengthens will, and restores essence (jing). For those who are driven, it softens hard willpower and supports true will.

Ultimately, true will is the will of true nature. As we align our personal will with the will of the universe, all efforting drops away and doing simply happens.

Location of Bladder 52



On the back at the level of the junction of the 2nd and 3rd lumbar vertebrae and 3 cun (four fingers width) lateral to the spine. It is approximately at the same level as the navel.