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Exploring the Art and Science of Acupuncture Points

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Acupuncture, a traditional Chinese medicine practice dating back thousands of years, is centred around the concept of balancing the body’s energy flow, known as Qi. At the heart of this ancient healing art are acupuncture points – specific anatomical locations on the skin relative to key landmarks on the body. These points play a crucial role in regulating the flow of Qi and addressing various health concerns.

Holes in the skin and De Qi sensation

In the traditional Chinese understanding of acupoints, the pictographs suggest the presence of holes in the skin through which Qi energy flows. Acupoints, whether in the body or the ear, can be reliably detected through electrodermal measurements. During acupuncture stimulation, a distinctive sensation known as “De Qi” often accompanies the process. Described as a dull, deep, and aching feeling, De Qi signifies the activation of Qi energy at the acupuncture point.

In the context of ear acupuncture, points become detectable when there is pathology in the corresponding part of the body. The sensation experienced when pressure is applied to an active auricular point may vary, with a sharp, piercing feeling potentially present.

A notable distinction between body and ear acupuncture points lies in their anatomical location. Body acupuncture points are situated in the tendon and muscular regions deep beneath the skin surface. In contrast, ear acupoints reside in the shallow depth of the skin, immediately above the cartilage that forms the auricle.

Types of acupuncture points

Acupuncture points are categorised based on their relationship with neural and tendinomuscular structures. Type I points correspond to motor points, where a nerve enters muscle, eliciting maximal muscle contraction with minimal electrical stimulation. Type II points are located on superficial nerves in the sagittal plane at dorsal and ventral midlines. Type III points are situated in areas with a high density of superficial nerves and nerve plexi, while type IV points are found where tendons join muscles.

Correlation with trigger points

Research has explored the correlation between acupuncture points and trigger points, hypersensitive regions in muscle tissue palpable as taut bands. Studies have reported a significant correlation, suggesting shared mechanisms for analgesia. Stimulation of trigger points, akin to acupuncture, can provide long-lasting pain relief.

Acupuncture and healing

Acupuncture points are believed to stimulate the central nervous system, triggering biochemical changes in muscles, the spinal cord, and the brain. This cascade of events enhances the body’s natural healing abilities, promoting physical and emotional well-being.

Numerous studies, including those conducted by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), attest to the efficacy of acupuncture in treating various conditions. From alleviating nausea caused by surgical anesthesia to managing chronic pain conditions like fibromyalgia and osteoarthritis, acupuncture has demonstrated effectiveness alone or in conjunction with conventional therapies. For example, acupuncture can treat hip pain by stimulating specific points believed to be pivotal in managing discomfort and promoting healing.


Acupuncture points represent a fascinating nexus of ancient wisdom and modern science, providing a roadmap for healing through the stimulation of energy flow within the body. As research continues to unveil the mechanisms behind acupuncture’s effectiveness, it stands as a holistic approach to health and wellness, offering relief and support for a diverse range of physical and emotional challenges.

Ellen Diamond, a psychology graduate from the University of Hertfordshire, has a keen interest in the fields of mental health, wellness, and lifestyle.

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