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An Introduction to Abdominal Acupuncture


Abdominal acupuncture ( AA ) or Fu Zhen, is one of the newest and most exciting forms of acupuncture to evolve from China in decades, if not centuries. It was developed by Prof. Bo Zhi Yun and it has been in use since 1991.

It was discovered in 1972 as a result of a particularly difficult case of sciatica which did not respond to conventional or other microforms of acupuncture. When Prof. Bo tried using points (Qi hai) Ren 6 and (Guanyuan) Ren 4 the back pain eased within minutes of starting treatment and the patient recovered completely without further treatment. Prof. Bo realised the potential of AA and dedicated the next 30 years of his life to developing and refining this system. It uses standard and new abdominal acupuncture points known as the Abdominal Meridian System (AMS).

AA is a microsystem of acupuncture and like other microforms such as Auricular acupuncture all the organs and body parts are contained within a small area. Unlike other Microsystems AA is much more powerful as a result of its location with the zangfu organs and because it connects with all the meridians of the body (discussed later). It. uses the Tortoise or Turtle as a blueprint to reflect the body parts at the superficial level.

As a therapy, it has become very popular in China because of its powerful results and its gentle nature (needle sensation). Indications include: orthopedic problems, respiratory infections, coronary artery disease, hypertension, digestive problems, neurological conditions, gynecological problems, and difficult-to-treat diseases like Parkinson’s, insomnia, depression, diabetes mellitus, eye diseases, obesity, deafness and tinnitus. It is particularly good for treating painful and chronic conditions and has proved to be very effective at treating conditions such as Haemaplegia from wind stroke. Results are often instantaneous and long-lasting for these reasons it has become known as “MiracleTherapy" .

Special Significance of the Abdomen

The abdomen is energetically very important in Chinese medicine and has been written about in such ancient books as the “Neijing”. The abdomen includes the area known as the Dantian or field of elixir. This area is where our life force emanates from and is a focal point in most forms of meditation Qi Gong, Taiqi and other martial arts practices. In ancient times the abdomen was used more for diagnosis and the book the “Nan Jing” stated in chapter 8 that the abdomen was more diagnostically relevant than the pulse. Diagnosis using the abdomen requires a sensitivity that takes some time and practice to cultivate.

From the embryological stage Shenque Ren 8 forms the epicentre which regulates qi and blood flow of the body. It forms the core from which all other meridians in the body derive known as the Shenque system or AMS (Abdominal Meridian System ). The AMS is a network of meridian acupoints governed by Shenque (Ren 8). As mentioned above, all the zang fu organs reside in this area and can be accessed either directly or through the AMS connection. This explains some of the mechanisms by which AA works and how puncturing points on the abdomen can address disharmonies anywhere in the body. AA works on 3 levels Heaven, Human and Earth these are similar to, but different to the traditional acupuncture sequence.

  • Heaven/ superficial level, treats head, torso, upper and lower limbs. It is represented by the Turtle/ tortoise.
  • Humanity/ middle layer connects the internal and external. Based on the Jing Luo theory and treats channel problems.
  • Earth/ Deep level treats the Zang fu organs and is represented by the Ba Qua / 8 trigrams.

AA Points and some indications

AA is 2 dimensional in nature so that points on the Ren can be used to treat the Dumai and likewise points along the kidney channel can be used to treat the urinary bladder channel. It should be noted that point location is different with AA but for simplicity conventional location methods can be used. (See fig1)

  • Ren 12 (Zhongwan) Treats head, heart or Small Intestine and also acts on 1st cervical vertebra
  • Ren 10 (Xiawan) treats spleen/ stomach and relates to the 1st thoracic vertebra.
  • Ren 6 (Qihai) activates the system brings Qi home, it coincides with the 1st Lumbar vertebra.
  • Ren 4 (Guanyuan) Treats kidney and also brings qi home. It is the tail of the turtle relates to the 5th lumbar vertebra.
  • St 25 (Tianshu) is the front mu of the Large Intestine and is used to clear heat and strengthen the back.
  • Sp 15 (Daheng) is the outer boundary of the Turtle along the horizontal axis and treats spleen problems.
  • St 24 (Huaroumen) and 26 (Wailing) can act as the 4 gates and also act as Shoulder and Hip points respectively.
  • Upper rheumatism point is 0.5 cun lateral and superior to shoulder and also acts as the elbow point.
  • Lower rheumatism point is 0.5 cun inferior and lateral to the hip points and also acts as knee points.
  • Wrist points are 0.5 cun lateral and inferior to elbow points (so that the shoulder elbow and wrist look like an upside down V).
  • The ankle point is on a line 0.5 cun lateral and inferior to the knee point. (Hip, knee and ankle should look like a back slash\)
  • Kidney points between Kid 19 and Kid 13 are used bilaterally to treat equivalent points along the Urinary bladder or to strengthen the over all effect of the treatment.

Fig1 Illustration of the turtle blueprint used to represent the Human body in Abdominal Acupuncture.

The therapeutic effect is thus dependent on the location and depth of the needles, making it different from other forms of acupuncture. The depth of the needles ranges from very superficial to deep at 1.5 cun.

Author’s Experience & Case Histories

I have been practicing AA since I first studied it with Dr. Yan Han in 2000; I have practised it intently and am always amazed with the results that can be achieved with it. I return regularly to Nanjing to further my training and realise that it is only by trial and error and a willingness to explore different methods that one develops skill in this form. I use AA 90% of the time in my practice and I have only had 2 clients who did not prefer it as a therapy. I have used it for a multitude of conditions and most respond very well with it. Painful conditions are particularly good to treat as one can gauge the results instantaneously. I ask clients to put a maximum score of 10 on their pain before starting treatment. This is used as are reference point and as the needles are being inserted I check for changes on the pain level, usually, clients will report pain down from 10 to 2 or even zero within minutes. Very slight adjustments of the needle depth or location will dictate the final result. Palpation of the abdomen to locate ahshi points is paramount and with sensitivity practitioners will feel anomalies relating to the area of pain and by needling these points and breaking down local adhesions the pain is resolved.

(Names Changed for Confidentiality)

Case Bob the Builder, Age 38

Bob had chronic pain due to a Slipped disc (T-3). He was prescribed Diaphene and was using Neurofen plus and other over-the-counter medication to try and control the pain. As a result of almost 18 months of medication he had spleen qi vacuity and kidney yang vacuity. He was nervous and didn’t want to have the back needled after a previous treatment with a physiotherapist. He had tried chiropractic and osteopathic therapy and had not responded to either.

Within minutes of starting the treatment the pain moved and after some fine tuning of the needles the pain had totally gone. Here turned for his second session 4 days later and was delighted that he had not had to use any medication and was able to enjoy normal activities. He had a total of 7 treatments and was able to return to work.

I have clients who have had MRI scans before and after treatment. The scan results testified that discs had moved back into the correct position following a course of AA.

Cindy, a Choreographer, Dancer and Actress

Acute Sciatica Cindy hurt her back during rehearsals on the day of the opening night of as how. She complained of severe pain around L-4 with radiating pain down the U.B. channel to UB57. She could barely walk let alone dance. Using AA her pain went within 5 minutes of needling and she was able to stand up straight and walk without any pain after the 45 minute session.

She performed a very physical show that night and went onto complete the 6 week run of the show with only a couple more treatments.


AA is known as miracle therapy for good reason, it has continuously proven its therapeutic efficacy and there have been a number of studies done to endorse this. It has many advantages over other microsystems and it is particularly effective for treating clients with weaker constitutions. Clients prefer it because it is less painful and generally more effective than other forms of acupuncture. It is also safer as the needling tends to be more superficial. It can treat a wider variety of complaints (e.g. pain in all areas as a result of Arthritis or fibromyalgia etc.) in one treatment than most other forms of acupuncture.

You can learn more about this amazing system through my courses on Net of Knowledge.

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