Tag Archives: GB 41

Pulling the Plugs

The other day a friend of mine was experiencing a pressure headache on the top and back of the head. I suspected a backup of Qi in the Gall Bladder meridian so I held the exit point of that meridian (GB 41) but it had no effect. So I moved to the exit point of Bladder meridian (BL 67) and within two minutes the pressure and ache had gone from the head.

This gave me the idea of writing a blog about the exit points of the three yang meridians of the leg, what I call the bath plug points. When any of these points is blocked, Qi can back up along the channel all the way to the head and face, producing symptoms of pressure, fullness, congestion or pain. It is good to keep these points in mind as they can effect major improvements in health with little work.

The three yang meridians of the leg are Gall Bladder, Bladder and Stomach. They all begin on the face and wend their ways down the body to the feet, Gall Bladder down the sides of the body, Bladder down the back of the body, and Stomach down the front. These three are the longest of all the primary organ meridians and contain the most points. (Gall Bladder has 44 points, Bladder 67 and Stomach 45.) That means that over half of the acupoints of the primary meridians lie on these three yang meridians of the leg. Lots of places for blocks to occur.

Let’s look at each of these meridians in turn to see what kinds of conditions can arise when their bath plugs become stuck.

Gall Bladder 41 ~ Zulinqi ~ Foot Above Tears

This point is one of my favourites, and one that I use frequently, because our busy, demanding, stressful world can put a lot of pressure on the Gall Bladder official who is responsible for making decisions and taking action.

You can find a fuller exploration of this point in a previous blog. Here I will focus on its role as an exit point. Entry and exit points are not a part of the TCM teaching but are a significant part of the Five Element tradition. Blocks at points where Qi enters or leaves the meridian can become impediments to treatment progressing.

When GB 41 is blocked, Qi can back up along the length of the meridian, producing symptoms in the sides of the legs, hips, the sides of the ribcage, shoulders, neck, head and eyes. One of the more common conditions associated with this block is occipital and frontal headache, sometimes with pain behind the eyes and/or visual distortions.

I once treated a 50 year old client, a busy businessman, who experienced ongoing headaches, almost every day since he was a teenager. I held Foot Above Tears on both feet and could feel a tremendous congestion there. He felt nothing at all for a couple of minutes, then suddenly he practically jumped off the table as the pressure broke through the crust and he felt the pain of the points. I then continued with steady pressure for several more minutes until he no longer felt the sensation. His headache had cleared.

I didn’t see him again for a couple of months. I assumed the treatment had not worked. But when he returned, he assured me that it had and that he had been headache free for those months, and was returning because the headaches were just starting to come back. This was a significant outcome from one treatment and shows the power of this point when used at the right time

This point can also be useful when frustrations or the burdens of responsibility cause a build up of pressure in the neck and shoulders. If you press into the top of someone’s shoulders (GB 21) and there is a lot of tension, you may find that holding GB 41 will help that tension to soften and descend down the body.

Location of Gall Bladder 41

At the junction of the fourth and fifth metatarsals. Draw up between the fourth and fifth toes, cross over the tendon, and drop into the hollow between these bones where they meet.



Bladder 67 ~ Zhiyin ~ Reaching Yin

The Bladder pathway reaches the end of its long and circuitous journey down the body at BL 67 at the corner of the little toenail. As with the other exit points of the yang meridians of the leg, if this point becomes blocked, Qi can back up along the pathway which in this case includes the calves, hamstrings, hips, sacrum, back, neck, top of the head and eyes.

BL 67’s capacity to cause Qi to descend is seen in its role in promoting labour, and its particular effect of turning a baby which is in breech position. While the point is great for a woman about to give birth, it should be avoided during the earlier stages of pregnancy. We don’t want to take that plug out too soon. After the birth, this point can also help persuade the placenta to release.

As shown in the recent case of my friend, described above, when there is headache on the top (vertex) or the back (occipital) of the head, or in the neck at the upper cervical vertebrae, this point can be useful in descending that congested Qi.

The Bladder channel begins at the inner corner of the eye, just above the tear duct. When Qi is blocked here it can result in pain in the eyes, dry eyes, redness or blurred vision, an inability to make tears, or alternatively, too much tearing. The exit point at the opposite end of the meridian, Reaching Yin, can be treated to pull the Qi down the meridian.

Location of Bladder 67

On the outside corner of the nailbed of the little toe. Draw a line from the lateral border of the nail, and another from the base of the nail. The point is where these lines meet.



Stomach 42 ~ Chongyang ~ Rushing Yang

The Stomach meridian starts just under the eye in the soft tissue below the lower eyelid. It travels down through the cheeks and jaw, takes a brief side trip into the temple, continues on through the throat, and down through the breasts, the abdomen and along the front of the legs and shins, reaching the exit point at Stomach 42.

When this point becomes blocked, it can cause symptoms of pain or discomfort in any of these areas. When a person has pain in the cheeks or jaw, or there is congestion in the throat, I will check if there is a block in Stomach 42.

A block at Chongyang is often associated not only with physical symptoms in the head and throat, but also with the psycho-emotional condition of worry or over-thinking. One of the responsibilities of the Earth Element (in particular the Spleen) is the proper functioning of mental processes. When we think too much, if worry a lot, if the mind goes round and round the same issue, or even if we are doing a lot of study or other concentration, this energy can get stuck in the head. Stomach 42 can come to the rescue.

One of the functions of the Stomach Official is to receive. This is known as Stomach Receiving. The receiving of food is an obvious role, but it also is responsible for receiiving other kinds of things such as love, praise, admiration, compliments and help. People who have difficulty letting such things in or have a tendency to push away or reject these things from others, may develop a block in the Stomach receiving. Stomach 42 should be checked.

Location of Stomach 42

On the top of the foot, in a shallow hollow 1.5 cun (2 fingers width) from the ankle crease. Alternatively, draw up between the second and third toes until you fall into the hollow.



Method of Treatment

When treating these points, begin by holding both points with steady, moderate pressure for two or three minutes. A block could show itself as a feeling of fullness, like a whirlpool of congested Qi; or it could manifest as a feeling of deadness or complete absence which breaks through after a while, as described in the GB 41 case above. With sustained pressure, either of these extremes will begin to come back to centre, the Qi feeling like a comfortable presence under your fingers. For deeper work, hold the points one at a time, beginning with the left side, until you feel the bath plug pop out.

Tears of Frustration

Apologies for the delay in this post. I’ve been busy getting the manuscript of  a second book ‘Seasons of Life’ to the publishers, extracts of which will soon be appearing in this space.

Zulinqi – Foot Above Tears – Gall Bladder 41

3.11Most of us have had the experience of becoming so frustrated with something or someone that we burst into tears. Anger and frustration become so pent up that they find a release through crying. Such an emotional state is usually an indication of an imbalance in Wood which can be treated by the Gall Bladder point Zulinqi – Foot Above Tears.

Wood that is healthy and moving freely aids us in finding a clear path around the apparent obstacles that life presents, like the plant that pushes its way through the cracks in the footpath. When Wood is not healthy, there are two polarised responses to obstacles: a repeated pushing against an immovable impediment resulting in frustration; or a collapse into inaction, defeat and giving up.

Zulinqi helps to resolve such polarised attitudes by strengthening all the resonances of Wood. It supports new ventures and putting your best foot forward as you move into action; provides a clear perspective of where you are and where you are headed; and helps with making good judgements and taking bold decisions. It treats Gall Bladder timidity where a person is fearful of taking action, and relieves depression caused by collapsed Wood. It helps to settle the person who is continually angry, frustrated and resentful.

Zulinqi supports the Wood in two ways. Firstly it smooths and clears the Gall Bladder channel, the complex pathway that begins at the outer corner of the eye and traverses the head, neck, shoulders, ribcage, hip, side of the leg and foot. Clearing this channel supports flexibility of the mind and body in negotiating a smooth path through life. Secondly, the point strongly supports the smooth spreading of Liver Qi, allowing it to ascend to fuel action and promote free respiration.

As the exit point of Gall Bladder meridian, it drains congested Qi from the upper reaches of the channel, especially from the head. Holding this point is like taking the plug out of a bath to drain it. Thus it can treat headaches, especially at the back and top of the head, visual distortion, dizziness and tinnitus.

As the Wood point of a Wood meridian, Foot Above Tears has an energising effect on the Element. It shakes the tree, rouses the Wood: Wake up, let’s go, it’s time to move! Element of the Element points such as this also function as horary points (from the Latin hora meaning hour). According to the Chinese meridian clock, the high tide of the Qi flow passes through Gall Bladder meridian between 11pm and 1am. Therefore the point has a greater influence during this time. People who have difficulty falling asleep at this time of night may find the point conducive.

Zulinqi has another role as the master point of the Dai Mai (Girdling Vessel), one of the Eight Extraordinary Vessels, and the only one that does not have a longitudinal trajectory. It passes round the back at the waist, dropping lower towards the pelvis in front, like the low slung belts that were iconic fashion items in the 80s. This vessel binds the Penetrating and Conception Vessels, and the Liver, Spleen and Kidney meridians, all of which influence the menstrual cycle. This powerful master point therefore regulates menstruation and treats PMT which so often comes with tears. It also helps with infertility, vaginal discharge, abdominal fullness and lumbar pain. It relieves the low back and hip pain of pregnancy.

Locally, it treats pain and swelling on the top of the foot, and helps to heal the most common of foot fractures at the fifth metatarsal.

Some say that frustration is a motivating force that leads to success. I would suggest it is a sign that Wood is getting stuck. Zulinqi can help to unblock the logjam and free the energy for directed, purposeful action.


3.12Location of Gall Bladder 41

On the top of the foot, in the depression below the junction of the 4th and 5th metatarsals. Draw up between the fourth and fifth toes, cross over the tendon of extensor digitorum longus and drop into the hollow. Apply direct pressure. The point is often quite sensitive.




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. You can now pre-order this book at Fishpond, Book Depository and other online booksellers. (76 days to go!)