I am Convinced—Part 4: Root versus Branch 5/5 (38)

This a part of a 4-series blog, if you haven’t read the previous part yet, take a look at it here.

Thanks for sharing in the journey of “I am Convinced.” I believe that it is our obligation, as healers, to teach what we learn so that the world can be a better place. Let’s review what we have learned in our series to this point:

  • Part 1–Meridian Therapy: We discussed the training I received with Dr. Jake Fratkin based on Japanese-style acupuncture and Shudo Denmei’s book Meridian Therapy.
  • Part 2–Yin Leads, Yang Follows: We established that 80% of a patient’s symptoms may be alleviated by treating the Yin imbalances found in AcuGraph because Yin Leads and Yang Follows.
  • Part 3–Trust the Graph: We talked about how important it is to Trust the Graph and I shared Dr. Jake Fratkin’s conviction that “There is no pulse diagnosis in the world that is better than computer diagnosis.” I also shared the amazing results I have been getting with my patients since I began to Trust the Graph.

We have finally arrived at Part 4 of our series–the part everyone has been waiting for! You keep asking, and I keep promising that I will answer…  How would I treat the patient???

Root versus Branch

Treating the yin channels is considered a root treatment. Once the yin channels are treated, the flow of energy in the body becomes balanced and any work done on the branch/presenting symptoms will get better twice as fast. The emphasis in Shudo Denmei’s book, Meridian Therapy, is to teach you how to focus on the root cause of disease, while also effectively treating the immediate symptoms.

Dr. Fratkin taught that yin channel imbalances are the root cause of the problem and that imbalances in the yang channels are more specifically based on symptomology. His tagline, which is also a common thread throughout Meridian Therapy, was this: “When the yin channels are in balance, then the yang channels will follow.”

Analyzing the Graph

It is very easy to analyze the yin channels in AcuGraph. Simply click on the Yin/Yang view to see the Yin channels on the left and the Yang channels on the right.

Dr. Fratkin taught me to be a little more scrutinizing when finding the excesses and deficiencies in AcuGraph. In fact, he believes that ANYTHING that falls below the blue line is considered deficient and ANYTHING that goes above the red line is considered excess (even if it shows up on the graph as a green or pink). Let me show you what I mean.


Analyzing the graph

First notice that we are looking at the Yin/Yang view of the graph. Let’s analyze each of the channels on the Yin side of the graph.

Lung: Low/Deficient

  • Although you see this as a split in a typical AcuGraph reading, Dr. Fratkin taught me to look at this as Low because either the left or the right falls below the blue line.

Spleen: High/Excess

  • Again, this channel presents as a split. But we are going to call it High because either the left or right extends above the red line. Anything that goes above the Red is excess for this explanation.

Heart: Low/Deficient

  • The heart shows as ‘Normal’ because it is green. But we are going to call this Low because at least one side of it falls below the blue line.


Kidney: Normal

  • A true normal—no modifications will be made.

Pericardium: Low/Deficient

  • A true low—treat as a deficiency.

Liver: Normal

  • A true normal—no modifications will be made.


How I would treat this patient:

The traditional way to treat deficiencies and excesses in the channel is by treating the tonification and the sedation points for that channel. Dr. Fratkin taught that you can choose to use either the tonification point or the source point for a deficient channel and get the same results.  The same holds true for sedation points. According to Dr. Fratkin, you can effectively switch out a sedation point for a xi-cleft point. Most of the time I am very happy with the toninfication/sedation point choices, but occasionally when that point winds up being a jing well point, I prefer using Dr. Fratkin’s suggestion. This approach has been very effective in my private practice.

#1: First treat the YIN channels that are Low/Deficient with the tonification point for that channel.  Always treat the deficiencies first.


Tonification Point OR Source Point
Lung  Lung 9 Lung 9
Heart  Heart 9 Heart 7
Pericardium  Pericardium 9 Pericardium 7


#2: Second treat the YIN channels that are High/Excess with the sedation point for that channel.


Sedation Point OR Xi-Cleft Point
Spleen  Spleen 5 Spleen 8


#3: Now that you have put the body into balance by doing a root treatment, you can treat the Branch/Chief Complaint.

  • Does your patient have shoulder pain? Or back pain? Use some local needles, body work, spinal manipulation, and/or auricular therapy to further alleviate his/her symptoms.
  • Is he/she catching a cold or dealing with low immunity? Treat with points to boost the immunity, add in a Spleen 6 and Stomach 36 with some moxa, send him/her home with an herbal supplement, etc.
  • Etc…

The main point to remember is that whatever the chief complaint is—first you have to balance the graph. This is your ROOT treatment. Once the graph is balanced, I have found that 80% of the patient’s symptoms such as sleep disorders, musculoskeletal pain, digestive issues, emotional dysfunction, etc. are eliminated on their own. This alone will also significantly improve the graph balance. Eighty percent is something to be excited about!

But what about the Yang channels? Most of the yang channels relate to musculoskeletal pain. You treat the other 20% of the symptoms by adding a BRANCH treatment. Once the root treatment needles are in, feel free to use whatever skills you have to eliminate their physical symptoms–local needling, distal needling, auricular therapy, massage, chiropractic, tui na, gua sha, cupping, etc. The list goes on. By first treating the yin imbalances and then dealing with symptoms through a branch treatment, patients will return with glowing reports of symptom relief AND their graphs should have amazing shifts toward green, even on the yang side!

Patients will get better twice as fast. You will find that patients with chronic pain that you have been working on for months and months are finally going to get better. Your referral rate is going to go up because you are getting such amazing results with your patients.

I am convinced that this technique has helped bring outstanding results to my patients. It works, it makes sense, and it is so EASY. Yes—I still have my Master’s degree in Traditional Chinese Medicine, but I am capable of learning more effective ways of treating my patients, using modern science and research. Without a doubt, AcuGraph, Dr. Fratkin and Shudo Denmei’s Meridian Therapy have helped me to become a more successful acupuncturist.

But, don’t just take my word for it–try it for yourself! There is a Chinese proverb that states: “I see and I remember, I do and I understand.” I can’t wait to hear what happens in your clinic as you perfect the art of Digital Meridian Imaging and treatment based on Meridian Therapy.

P.S. Have you enjoyed this series? The best is yet to come. With this series as an introduction, we have a big announcement to make next week.  Stay tuned!

Best regards~


Kimberly Thompson, L.Ac.

Acupuncture Research Analyst

Miridia Technology Inc.

Read ‘I am Convinced—Part 3: Trust the Graph’ here.

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Dr. Kimberly Thompson, DACM, L.Ac.

Dr. Kimberly Thompson, DACM, L.Ac. is a US licensed acupuncturist in the state of Idaho and certified in the treatment of acupuncture, Oriental medicine and Chinese herbology by the National Certification Commission of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (NCCAOM). Kimberly wears multiple hats in the acupuncture community. She owns her private clinic, Meridian Family Acupuncture. She has spent the last 10 years working for Miridia Technology as an acupuncture Research Analyst–where she helps plan, develop, and integrate modern diagnostic and treatment tools for the ever-evolving scientific world of acupuncture. Kimberly is a world-renown teacher, blogger, columnist, and mentor in the acupuncture community.

29 Replies to “I am Convinced—Part 4: Root versus Branch

  1. Kimberly: I have enjoyed this series. What do you do if a split yin meridian has one side below the blue line and one side above the red line? Just use source point?

    1. Hello Robin,

      I would usually just treat it as a deficiency. You can evaluate how the symptoms relate, but in my opinion, when there is a big split in a yin channel it is usually because there is a deficiency. You can do a pulse diagnosis for further clarification, but I tend to just treat the tonification point.

      I’m really glad that you have enjoyed the series.

      Best regards~


  2. Also, are you using source or jingwell graphs?
    I tend to use the Jing well first, and work with that until it balances out a little, and then go to the source chart, but I’m not sure that’s the best way?

    1. I think that it is a matter of preference. We do teach that a jing-well report shows what is happening tendino-muscularly. But my preference is the source point exam. I want to know what is going on at a deeper level. Everything that I presented in this series was done with source point exams.


  3. Thanks for the article Kim, Really enjoyed the read. I am trying the technique on a patient as I write. I just teated the deffecient side of the splits, thoughts?

  4. I met Jake a long time ago, years before I became an acupuncturist. I took his Japanese Meridian seminar back around 1999. Thank you for bringing this information back to me. It is very valuable.


  5. Thank you for these 4 parts articles Kim. I confess that since I got the acugraph a year ago, I haven’t been using it. Part of the reason is because I don’t trust the graph and the result I got when I using the graph (my own points selection) is no different than when I am not using it. Actually I regret I bough the program because it did not assist me providing a better treatment for my clients.

    After reading these 4 parts articles, it brings back my trust to try acugraph again. I trust you and I also trust Dr. Fratkin ( I took his seminar years ago). Thank you very much for all the information you bring to help us better served our clients. I am grateful. to know you.

  6. Thank you Kimberly. Thoroughly enjoyed this series. I put it into use right away even without knowing how to deal with the splits. I’m looking forward to seeing how this plays out for my patients.

    I really see how this is going to make a big difference….because it makes so much sense. Kind regards

  7. Great series Kimberly – have waited with anticipation for each part! Funny, but I’ve been substituting the source pts for the jing-wells quite a bit for comfort’s sake, but also because it somehow made sense as an alternate way to achieve the same end-result. This just confirmed that, so thank you! Can’t wait to try this whole approach out on all my patients!

    1. My preference is to treat it as a deficiency. You will have to make that judgement call based on presenting signs and symptoms. I personally lean towards deficient.


  8. Kimberly,

    This was a great and informative series. Much appreciation to you and everyone at Meridiatech for always exceeding expectations.

    My one question is: are you graphing on every visit and then treating based on the daily graphs. Or treating based on the historical patterns as they evolve. Or are you treating several sessions based on the first graph until some symptom relief appears and then graphing again?



    1. Hello Jim,

      I am graphing on every visit and treating what shows up that day. The body shifts and fluctuates from visit to visit. Of course, general tendencies stay consistent. I watch for historical patterns and consider what is happening historically for herbal treatment and helping the patient find a maintenance plan which matches them well–change of seasons, over stress, etc.


  9. Thank you Kimberly for this informative series.

    Do have a question or two on treatment specifics. Are you treating bilaterally? Once you place your Yin deficiency treatment needles, do you leave these in place while you put in your Yin excess needles? Likewise, are all Yin needles left in while you address any other complaint? And, how long do you generally leave your root treatment needles in place?


    1. Hello John,

      Yes–I do treat bilaterally. Because I am just treating the yin channels, it never feels like I am using too many needles. And yes–I also keep the needles in as I progress with treatment. The flow of treatment would go as such:

      #1: Treat the yin deficiencies. Leave the needles in…
      #2: Add yin excesses. Leave the needles in…
      #3: Treat the branch. Let them sit for 20 minutes or so.
      #4: Pull all needles.


  10. Hi Kimberly,
    Thanks for the very informative series. I haven’t noticed any mention of whether you are using any tonifying or sedating techniques when you needle. So are you always using a neutral needling technique when you use the tonifying and sedating points? Thanks again.

      1. Thanks for the link. Not sure I totally agree, but certainly an interesting perspective… and I think, ultimately, it’s the results we get that are the most important thing to consider.

  11. Kimberly,
    When a Belt Block comes up in the graph, would you first needle TE 5 and GB 41, and then go on to tonify and sedate Yin points? Or what’s the best approach in those cases?

    Thanks for all the information, it has been very useful.

    1. Angel,

      I would first treat the the yin points by tonifying or sedating. And THEN I would insert needles into TE 5 and GB 41 to open the Dai Mai. My experience has been that if I treat the yin imbalances first, then anything else that I add to treatment becomes more effective.

      I’m glad that you enjoyed the series.


  12. I Have enjoyed this series,

    May God guide you always to the right way.

    Thanks you for helping us to do our best?

    Best regards Kimberly

  13. Hi kimberly,
    Thank you very much for this series. I love it. Just tried it on myself and guess what: my graph improved.:-)
    I have one question. One can substitute HT-9 tonification point for HT-7 shu stream point. But HT-7 is also the sedation point. (Same for PC-9, PC-7)
    Would you just needle HT-9 or go for HT -7(less painfull) if the HT meridian shows a low reading ?

    Kind regards

  14. Hi Kimberly, this new way of looking at the highs and lows and seeing if greens are actually greens means that the Information section of Acugraph does not match this new method. For instance, if a green is actually a low, there will be nothing in the info section if we want to ask the patient if they have any of the symptoms that go with that low. I suppose the solution is to have a printed chart on hand showing each meridian and its high/low symptoms. Any other suggestions? Thanks.

  15. Hi Kimberly, I hope this thread is not too old to add to. It does make sense to treat yin imbalances first but then, unless I am missing something, it is less convenient in that instead of simply using Acugraph’s recommended treatments (Basic, Adv. etc), we now may need to disregard these (or parts of these) recommendations and choose other points that we may not be able to immediately remember and may therefore have to look up.

    For example, in the graph you provided above, SP21 would be recommended by Acugraph for the 5 splits but now we should disregard this and instead must recall (or look up) the tonification pt for LU and sedation pt for SP. Would it be just as effective to still treat the yin imbalances first but stick to Acugraph’s recommended pts? After all this is what we have always been advised to do – trust the graph and use the recommended pts. Thanks.

So, what do you think about it?