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Jump Up and Touch the Sky

Huantiao – Jumping Circle – Gall Bladder 30

Dylan jumpingI love the name of this point. Huantiao – Jumping Circle conjures images of ultra-flexible dancers leaping nimbly, twisting spectacularly in mid-air and landing with grace. It suggests strength, stamina, flexibility and a vigorous engagement with life. It is the very model of healthy Wood.

As a bodyworker, I find this point indispensible in treating hip pain and stiffness, and especially sciatica. It influences not only the hip but also the whole of the leg. For example it treats knee stiffness where flexion and extension of the knee are limited. It addresses thigh pain, numbness in the leg, and promotes circulation of blood throughout the lower limb. Furthermore, it treats pain in the lumbar region as well as the sides of the ribs, which lie along the pathway of Gall Bladder meridian.

It is the go-to point for sciatica, a condition that produces pain through the buttock and down the back of the leg. Sciatica is caused most commonly by a herniated (bulging) disc pressing on the sciatic nerve as it emanates from the spine. Nerve entrapment can also be caused by spinal bone spurs and displaced lumbar vertebrae. Sciatica can also result from a tight piriformis muscle pressing on the nerve as it passes through the buttock. Huantiao treats sciatica arising for any of these situations.

Ma Danyang, the 12th century Taoist luminary, included this point in his now famous Eleven Points Shining Bright as the Starry Sky, indicating its use for ‘pain in the leg from hip to calf and repeated sighing in grief when turning’. Today practitioners regard it as unrivalled in importance for the treatment of disorders of the hip joint and buttock, whether from traumatic injury or stagnation of Qi. It strengthens all of the tendons and ligaments, the tissues of the Wood Element.

Huantiao is also a meeting point with the Bladder meridian, meaning that its effects can be felt along the pathway of Bladder channel as well as Gall Bladder. Thus it can treat pain in the low back through which the Bladder meridian passes.

Besides these structural effects on the body, Huantiao also eliminates wind, cold and damp heat, making it effective in treating skin rashes in the lower body, itchy anus and groin, urethritis and vaginal discharge. In a systemic way, it tonifies Qi.

Wood likes to move. When our Wood is balanced, the sinews of the body are supple, bestowing ease of movement. Our legs take us where we will. We are free to roam through life as the clouds wander the skies. Huantiao grants us this range of motion.

Location of Gall Bladder 30

3.16When a person squats down in preparation for a jump, a semi circular depression appears at this point. This hollow is located two thirds of the distance from the sacral hiatus (bottom of the sacrum) to the tip of the greater trochanter of the femur (hip bone). It is found most easily with the person lying on their side with the leg bent. Apply firm, direct 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. Australian readers can now get a 15% discount with Aussie distributor Footprint Books by using the code KIRK15.


Title Search – Help Wanted

Choosing-a-Book-TitleRegular readers will know that this blog is morphing into a book, to be published by Jessica Kingsley Publishers

While the manuscript is in the final stages of preparation, one important item is missing – a title. We are trying to craft a title and subtitle that include the Five Elements, the seasonal perspective of the pieces, and the focus of the acu-points. In addition, the title needs to appeal both to practitioners and the general public. Quite a tall order.

If you would like to play a part in the birth of this book, put your thinking cap on and come up with a catchy title for the book. If your title is used, you will receive immense gratitude, a signed copy of the book, acknowledgement within the book and coffee with the author (air fare to Adelaide not included).

Send your ideas to – all responses will receive a reply.

Thanks for your help. Best wishes, John.


We Are One

cupcakeYou will be forgiven for  thinking that this is a post about the non-dual nature of reality and the truth that we are all continually arising out of the same fabric of the universe. Another time perhaps. No, this is something far more mundane: a celebration of the first anniversary of this blog. And while you are enjoying the celebratory cup cake, here is a point to help you metabolise the sugars.

I introduced Spleen 3 in the previous posting as a good grounding point after air travel. Here we explore more deeply into this very balancing Earth point.


Transport Yourself

Years ago when industrial strike action was common, there was nothing more paralysing than a transportation strike. Planes grounded, trains halted, ports closed, trucks idle. The transport of people and goods is vital to the functioning of a country and its economy.

In the human body, the job of moving things around falls to the Spleen official. Of all the organs, the Spleen is the most unlike its western namesake. In fact it can be regarded more like a network than an organ like the Liver. Think of a subway map with its network of criss-crossing lines. Spleen is like the Minister for Transport who keeps things moving.

The main function of the Spleen is to assist the Stomach in the transformation of food essences and to transport these throughout the body. It is also responsible for the movements of Qi and fluids. When the Spleen Qi is strong there will be good appetite, digestion and elimination. When it is weak, there may be poor digestion, bloating and loose stools.

Another function of the Spleen is to control ascending Qi, partnering the Stomach’s role of controlling descending Qi. One way this operates is that the Spleen sends food Qi upwards to the Lung to support its function of gathering Qi from the breath. It also sends food Qi upwards to the Heart to assist in forming Blood. In an overall way, the Spleen provides support and upward lift to the body.

One interpretation of the pathway of the Spleen meridian is that it is like a crutch under the armpit, supporting an upright stance. When Spleen Qi is weak, there is often fatigue and sagging as if this upright support has been lost. The state of the Spleen is one of the most important factors in determining the amount of energy a person has.

When the functions of transformation, transportation and ascendance of Qi are operating well, then thinking is clear and the thoughts are settled. When the Spleen official is taking a sick day, then the mind can become fuzzy and muddled, worried by repetitive and obsessive thoughts.

Disorders of the Spleen are common and Spleen Qi deficiency is one of the most common patterns seen in clinical acupuncture practice in western countries. Causes of this include stress, lack of exercise, poor diet, eating too much sugar, eating cold food, eating irregularly and worrying about what you eat. Looking at this list, it is easy to see how this has become a western malaise.

One of the strongest points for tonifying and revitalising the Spleen is its source point, Taibai – Supreme White. As the Earth point on an Earth meridian, it is tremendously supportive of the Element and particularly effective between the hours of 9 am and 11 am when the Spleen Qi is at its highest level during the day.

It activates and strengthens the Qi of both Spleen and Stomach, thereby treating many digestive disorders including abdominal pain and fullness, intestinal gurgling (borborygmus), constipation, diarrhoea and haemorrhoids. By encouraging the Qi to ascend, Taibai also treats lethargy, fatigue and feelings of heaviness in the body, especially of the limbs. It also treats pain of the knees and thighs along the pathways of Stomach and Spleen.

Taibai is a good point for resolving damp. The Spleen is particularly susceptible to external damp, such as humid weather or wearing wet clothes. But internal damp often arises when the Spleen is not functioning well. Many of the symptoms of Spleen imbalance are a result of this dampness in the body.

The Spleen is also injured by ongoing obsessive thoughts and excessive worry. In these cases, Taibai helps to recharge the brain and the thinking processes. It brightens up your ideas! Similarly, when thinking is fuzzy and mental activity is fraught, this point clarifies thinking and improves memory. It brings groundedness, stability and a sense of coming back to centre.

So if you feel like your inner transport minister has gone on strike, hold Taibai and get him back to work.

Location of Spleen 3 – see previous posting