Category Archives: Sciatica

Deep Resources

Winter is here in South Australia with some frosts and very cold nights. And I’m peeing more. Sorry to be so personal, but it happens to most of us in the winter. Turns out that because we sweat less in cold weather, the body has to find alternative ways of disposing of fluids. It does that by sending more fluid to the kidneys to be processed which is then passed on to the bladder to be peed out.

People who already have issues of the urinary system are more challenged in the winter because of the effect of the cold. This aligns with the Chinese medicine view of Cold as an external pathogen that enters the body and affects the organs of the Water Element, namely the Bladder and Kidneys.

Last time I foreshadowed that I would be examining the xi-cleft points (also known as the accumulation points) in the coming year, each of them in its related season. First out of the blocks is the xi-cleft point of the Bladder meridian, the yang organ of the Water Element. Remember, these points are known best for treating acute conditions and for pain.

Bladder 63 ~ Jinmen ~ Golden Gate

One of the conditions I frequently encounter in clinic, especially in my older clients, is muscle cramping in the backs of the legs, in the hamstrings or calves. Bladder 63 addresses this given that it treats acute pain along the channel. The Bladder channel has a very long pathway of 67 points, starting at the eyes, moving over the top of the head, down the back of the neck, all the way down the back parallel to the spine, through the sacrum and buttocks, then down the back of the leg through the hamstrings and calves before slipping sideways in the lower leg, under the outer ankle bone, and along the side of the foot to the little toe.

Given the length of the pathway, there are plenty of places where acute pain can arise and be treated with this point. It is particularly well known for treating pain in the low back, knees, legs and ankles.

One interesting note in the classics is that it treats White Tiger joint disease which is said to produce pain like a tiger gnawing on one’s toes. Thankfully, I’ve never encountered a tiger in this way, but it certainly sounds excruciating. We now know that this was the ancient name for gout, and was associated with an attack of pathogenic Wind, Cold, Damp or Heat, producing pain and heaviness in muscles and tendons, and constriction in the joints.

The xi-cleft points tend to have a direct effect on acute conditions of their corresponding organs. This point has a less powerful effect on the Bladder than other xi-cleft points do, but it can be used to treat urinary issues including difficult or painful urination. It regulates the flow of water in the body.

The point also pacifies Wind, thereby treating shaking conditions such as shivering, epilepsy and malaria.

Some modern sources recommend the xi-cleft points in cases where the associated emotion has become overwhelming. In this case it is the emotion of fear. When we are overwhelmed with responsibilities and fearful that we don’t have enough in reserve to cope, Golden Gate can be opened to gain access to the resources of Water. When we are frozen with fear, Bladder 63 supports us to let go and to surrender into the flow of our life.

These psycho-emotional connotations of Jinmen are reinforced by the fact that it is an important point of the Yang Wei Mai or Yang Linking Vessel, one of the Eight Extraordinary Vessels. Yang Wei is related to issues of moving forward in the world, using the resources of the Du Mai or Governor Vessel to take action in life. It relates to how we manage emotion to become effective social beings. And it is about how we individuate to become our unique expression of True Nature in the world.

Golden Gate is indeed a doorway to our inner riches.

Location of Bladder 63

The point is located on the side of the foot in a depression of the cuboid bone, posterior to the tuberosity of the 5th metatarsal. Slide your finger up the side of the foot from the little toe until you find the large bump in the middle of the foot. Go over that to the other side and up a little until your finger fits into a small hollow. Hold for about 3 minutes on each foot.


I love words. I love playing with them and I love to explore their origins or etymologies. So when it came to writing once again about the season of Spring, which is beginning to burst around us in the southern hemisphere, I became curious about the origins of the word. The French word for spring is printemps which derives from Latin and means first time. Italians and Spanish call it primavera, meaning first spring, derived from the Latin primus ver. Germans use the word frühling meaning earlyness. All of these words are based on the view that spring is the first season of the year, a new beginning, a birth.

In medieval England the season was called Lent, the same as the Christian observance of the 40 days prior to Easter Sunday. Yet the word Lent is itself a shortened form of the Old English word lencten meaning spring season. It wasn’t until the 14th century that it began to be referred to as “springing time”, a reference to plants springing up from the soil. In the 15th century this became shortened to springtime and later simply spring. The word spring, both as a verb and a noun, is very descriptive of the conditions in nature in this first season of the year. It can refer to movements such as jumping, bounding and moving rapidly. It can also mean to originate as in where did you spring from? The bubbling up of water from the ground is a spring, and things can spring a leak. A coiled wire that powers mechanical devices is also a spring. All of these connotations evoke uprising power and movement.

These characteristics are the same as the resonances of Wood which is the Element of the spring season. Which brings us to the Chinese word for spring, chūn 春.

The Chinese language doesn’t have the same kind of etymology as the Indo-European languages but we can examine the nuances within the strokes of the character itself. The lower part of the character is the radical 日 which represents the sun, something that is vital for the photosynthesis that fuels plant growth. The upper portion chūn looks like sprouts growing into plants. The interpretation of the character is that spring is the season of increasing sunshine which makes crops grow.

Let’s take our word study further and look at some acupoint names that are imbued with these Woody characteristics. One of the most important qualities of the Wood Element is that it loves to move. Movement is inherent to it.

GB 9 Heavenly Rushing
GB 30 Jumping Circle
GB 34 Yang Mound Spring
LV 2 Moving Between
LV 3 Great Rushing

I’ve chosen points of the Gall Bladder and Liver channels which are those of the Wood Element. At this time of year when the deep, quiet energies of the Water Element are transitioning to the rapid upward-moving energies of the Wood Element, things can be a bit jerky. This might show up as strained tendons and ligaments in the body. Or it could be that you can’t get motivated and feel like you’re spinning your wheels. It might also emerge at the emotional level as frustration and even anger. Many people find they are more easily irritated in springtime, especially at the beginning when the energies of the new season first appear. Let’s look briefly at five points whose names imply movement and which can help to smooth the transition between winter and spring.

Gall Bladder 9 – Tianchong – Heavenly Rushing

Rising Wood energy can sometimes feel like a rush to the head which can produce headaches and visual distortions. Gall Bladder 9, located in a depression 1 cun above and 0.5 cun behind the apex of the ear can be useful in treating imbalances between the head and the body. It can encourage the excess Wood energy in the head to descend into the body.

Gall Bladder 30 – Huantiao – Jumping Circle

When this point in the hips is open, it allows for freedom of movement and provides the capacity to jump into action. If you have pelvic constriction, difficulty turning the body from side to side, or suffer from sciatica, Jumping Circle can be useful. Or if you are challenged in moving forward, this point can be helpful in taking that first step. You can read a fuller description of this point in an earlier article.

Gall Bladder 34 – Yanglingquan -Yang Mound Spring

This point at the knee is known as a master point for the tendons and ligaments which connect muscles and bones to produce movement. Yang Mound Spring treats tight tendons and ligament strains, or alternatively loose connective tissue that causes joints to slide out of alignment. As the Earth point on a Wood meridian, it helps us to move from a grounded place. See more on the point in this previous blogpost.

Liver 2 – Xingjian – Moving Between

Xingjian lies in the webbing between the first and second toes and the big toe plays a significant role in walking, implying that this point is a big mover. More than that, it is the Fire point of Liver which moves Qi from Wood to Fire, thereby sedating Liver when it is in excess. When Liver Qi is rising rapidly up the body it can produce symptoms in the head such as headaches, dizziness, dry eyes and throat, as well as difficulty breathing, and genital and menstrual disorders. Liver 2 smooths uncontrolled Liver Qi. See more on this point here.

Liver 3 – Taichong – Great Rushing

This is a classic tonic point of the body that supports the many functions of the Liver. It is located just superior to Liver 2 and like that point, it helps to smooth unruly Liver Qi. Taichong is also the source point of Liver and serves to balance conditions of both excess and deficiency. Therefore it can mobilise Qi and motivate us to action if there is deficiency. It helps with vision, both outer and inner, allowing us to see more clearly where we want to move to. For more detail see my original article on this Top Ten point.

As we move further into Spring, I suggest you pay attention to the uprising quality of the season and tap into that energy which is all around. If you catch this wave in early spring, it can empower your plans and fuel your forward movement.