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.