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Staying Flexible

Liver 6 ~ Zhongdu ~ Central Capital

Boy, what a spring it’s been in southern Australia: powerful forces blowing through, upending the calm serenity, unexpected gusts shaking things loose. I’m not just referring to the weather here, though it has been very windy and stormy of late; I’m also talking about the uprising, often jerky energies of the Wood Element that create a surging force, putting pressure upon any of our Wood issues that are unresolved.

I mentioned last time my unexpected gall bladder protestations. In response I’ve begun taking some supplements that cleanse and support the liver and gall bladder, only to find that my dreams have been unusually frequent and vivid. Sleep sometimes feels like a long-running Netflix drama series. This is because the liver houses the hun, spirit of Wood, which organises our dreams at night. Flushing the liver can affect the dream life.

Anger has also been prominent for many people this spring as the rising tide of Wood energy lets us know how balanced is this Wood emotion within us. I’ve had many clients comment on their frustration levels recently. And I’ve noticed that these emotions are spilling over into angry public protests over the Covid lockdowns.

Which brings us to an acupoint that can address some of these issues, the xi-cleft point of the Liver channel: Liver 6, Zhongdu, Central Capital. Its name refers to its location in the centre of the shin bone, to the cleft or hollow in which it is located, and perhaps because the xi-cleft point is where Qi accumulates as does the population of a capital city.

As a xi-cleft point, it is very good for clearing stagnation along the whole length of the Liver channel, starting at the big toe, travelling up the inside of the leg, around the groin, into the abdomen and through the diaphragm before finishing below the breast. It is particularly known for treating acute conditions of the genital area, urinary pain, uterine pain, and lower abdominal pain. It can also address numbness in the hands and feet and emaciation of the legs.

An overarching function of the point is that it spreads and smooths Liver Qi. One of the main functions of the Liver official is to promote smooth flow of blood and Qi throughout the body. Central Capital is a significant point to support this function. One of the ways that stagnant Liver Qi can present is in constant sighing, brought on by tightness in the diaphragm which prevents Liver Qi from ascending. Another point we’ve looked at in the past, Liver 14 in the chest , can be paired with Liver 6 to address this condition.

Zhongdu can also treat stagnation at the psycho-emotional level which might present outwardly as frustration, irritability, anger and judgement of others; or internally as collapse, hopelessness, despair, and judgement and criticism of oneself. For some, there is a flipping back and forth between the two responses. In both scenarios, the Liver Qi is not moving smoothly up the body as it needs to.

One of the major issues that the Wood Element presents us is about how we manage the limits and boundaries we encounter. How we deal with the inevitable roadblocks we meet in life will tell us much about the health of our Wood. When you meet an obstacle to your forward movement, how do you tend to respond? A healthy Wood will be flexible and adapt to changing circumstances. If plan A isn’t working, we look around, make wise assessments, change the plan, and move forward. If you collapse at hurdles or try to crash through them, consider alternatives and work around the barriers. Working with Liver points will support your adaptability and flexibility, and Central Capital can be central to this support.

Location of Liver 6

The point lies 7 cun above the prominence of the inner ankle bone. As there are 15 cun from the knee crease to the ankle on the inside of the lower leg, the point is slightly less than halfway up. It lies on the back border of the tibia bone in a hollow between the tibia and the gastrocnemius muscle.

It makes for a nice pairing with Gall Bladder 36 which we looked at last time. GB 36 is at the same level as Liver 6 but on the outside of the leg.

Outer Mound

Gall Bladder 36 ~ Waiqiu ~ Outer Mound

Here in the Adelaide Hills spring is waiting impatiently in the wings, itching to leap into action. After our long, cold, wet winter, South Australians too are ready. Last week the maximum temperature was 11 degrees at my place. This week it’s predicted to jump to 30. That’s spring for you. Sudden growth and movement.

Last week my body told me it was spring when my gall bladder decided to complain forcefully about the chocolate brownie I ate, something I know is not good for me. The thing about spring is that its rising Wood energy puts pressure on any aspect of Wood that is out of balance, whether that is the organs of liver and gall bladder, the tendons and ligaments, the eyes, the emotion of anger or any of the other resonances of that Element.

The Gall Bladder point we are examining today is perfect for acute conditions of the gall bladder organ. Very timely for me. Once again, I am offered an opportunity to live the writing.

Gall Bladder 36 is the xi-cleft point of the channel. As we saw when we looked at Bladder 63, the xi-cleft points of the yang meridians are used for acute conditions and for pain. They are also used to address the emotion associated with the channel when the emotion has become overwhelming.

The name Outer Mound refers to the location of the point at the outside of the mound of muscle that is the calf. There are other mounds on the Gall Bladder channel in the leg: Yang Mound Spring (GB 34) and Mound of Ruins (GB 40). Outer Mound makes me think of the pitcher’s mound in baseball, a raised place which offers a good view of the batter and from where the pitcher can throw fast and direct. All of these are qualities which echo Wood’s resonances. As far as I know the ancient Chinese weren’t into baseball, but I thought I’d offer this whimsical, modern interpretation.

The point can be used to treat acute conditions of the organ of gall bladder, like the sudden spasms and nausea that can accompany a gall bladder attack. But it is best known for its effectiveness in treating pain along the channel pathway. The Gall Bladder pathway is the most complicated of all of the meridians as it zig-zags its way down the body, starting at the outside corner of the eye, crossing over the head twice and around the ears before passing through the neck and shoulders, down the sides of the ribcage, passing through the front and back of the pelvis, before straightening out down the side of the leg and ending at the fourth toe. The wandering nature of the pathway means that pain in many otherwise unrelated locations could offer a unified picture of imbalance. Of all of these places along the pathway, Gall Bladder 36 is particularly known for treating neck pain and stiffness.

Another of the point’s uses is in relaxing the sinews, the tendons and ligaments, and tissue of the Wood Element. In addition, it treats invasion of Wind, the climate resonance of Wood. Symptoms of Wind include occipital headaches and neck pain, jerky or shaky conditions such as restless legs, migratory pain, or an intense aversion to being outside in windy conditions. Gall Bladder 36 is also known for treating skin conditions and clearing toxins due to its capacity to clear heat from the body.

At the emotional level, Gall Bladder is associated with anger which can turn into judgement of others or just as easily, into anger at oneself as self-attack. A healthy Gall Bladder official is able to see the big picture clearly, make sound decisions, and move swiftly to action. Stagnation in this official often leads to lack of clarity, poor judgements, hesitation and vacillation. Waiqiu can support the clarity of mind that is needed to act wisely in the world.

If the rising energy of Spring is causing some niggling problems in your liver or gall bladder organs; if it is causing irritability or frustration, making you short-tempered and swift to judge others; or if you are having trouble making decisions and seeing clearly how to move ahead with your plans, Waiqiu can support you with clarity and ease of movement.

Location of Gall Bladder 36

The point is located on the outside of the lower leg. It is 7 cun above (superior to) the tip of the outer ankle bone, and lies at the anterior border of the fibula in the cleft between the fibula and tibia.

Begin by finding the midpoint between the knee crease and the outer ankle bone. Go down (inferior) by 1 cun (body inch) and at that level, first find the back of the fibula bone, then roll forward (anterior) until you feel the cleft between the bones.