Acupuncture Cardinal Points – Reference Source 4.98/5 (49)

Woman bored 1When I was in college, I had a professor who used to tell me that she was a “lazy” acupuncturist. She had acupuncture points that she used regularly with her patients that worked, and she got really great results. Therefore she didn’t see a need to continue to come up with new and improved acupuncture points.

If a particular point works time and time again, why reinvent the wheel—right?

I am a bit of a points nerd and I love to read about the functions and indications of acupuncture points. What I have found over the years is that there are certain individual points and combinations that authors reference time and time again in their text. These points, known as Cardinal or Empirical points, have emerged through the years because they yield excellent clinical results.

One of my favorite references for these points is found in our very own AcuGraph Reference section.

From inside AcuGraph simply click on Reference –> Charts –> Cardinal Points.

We have had a lot of discussion lately about balancing the graph as a root treatment and then adding in key points for a branch treatment. Simply balancing the graph takes care of at least 80% of my patients’ complaints. Everything else I take care of as a branch treatment. Here are some examples of how I use Cardinal/Empirical points after I have chosen points to balance their graph:

cardinal points

Arm Pain:  Large Intestine 11 and Triple Energizer 5

  • Whenever there is arm pain of any kind, I always find these points to be tender. They are both important big qi moving points on the channel.  I get really good results when using e-stim on this combination of points. You can’t go wrong moving qi and blood in both channels to alleviate arm pain.

Heart - red  Sexual Organs: Spleen 6
I love Spleen 6. This is a crossing point for the Liver, Kidney, and Spleen channels. I use this as a branch treatment for an array of complaints such as
menstrual disorders, low libido, enlarged prostate, etc. It is nice when you can affect three channels with one needle.

Scapula: Small Intestine 11

  • ANY – SHOULDER – PAIN. In the chart, we refer to this point pertaining to anything to do with the scapula. I think that any shoulder pain involves the scapula. This is the only point that I am aware of that relieves tension in the subscapularis–that pesky muscle that is under the scapula and causes so much pain. It is also good for someone who has shoulders that are hunched forward and moms with breastfeeding problems.
  • Here is another little helpful tidbit. Small Intestine 12, which is just above the scapular spine is a crossing point for the Large Intestine, Small Intestine, Triple Energizer, and Gallbladder channels. I also like to add Small Intestine 12.

Emotions and Anxiety: Heart 7

  • Why do you think Heart 7 is so powerful? The Chinese name for Heart 7 is Shen Men–which means “opens the mind’s door.” One of my instructors said that it was the best point to calm the mind when there is great anxiety and worrying under stressful situations. He also said that it can be used for impotence in men and lack of sexual desire in women. This makes sense because usually sexual disorders have an emotional component.
  • Heart 7 is the sedation point for the channel but let’s not forget that it is also the source point, which means it can be used to either tonify or sedate because it is self-regulating. Heart 7 is my point of choice for any imbalance in the heart channel.

Pulse/Blood Vessels: Lung 9

  • Heart 9 is right next to the radial artery. The radial artery hooks up with the brachial artery and is the main artery which supplies blood to the arm. Deadman states that that Lung 9 “regulates and harmonizes the one hundred vessels.” Whenever I have a patient that has a really weak/sluggish pulse, I like to add Lung 9 to his/her treatment. Sometimes you can simply press on lung 9 and feel the strength and quality of the pulse immediately increase. Lung 9 becomes the icing on the cake during treatment if I am struggling with a sluggish pulse.

If you have a particular day where you are feeling a little nerdy like me, then take some time to dig out your textbooks and read about Cardinal/Empirical points.

There is a ton of interesting reading.

AcuGraph Video demoWe’ve saved you a lot of time by gathering this information for you and making it easy to access in the reference section of your AcuGraph program.

This reference section is just ONE of the many ways using the AcuGraph has helped me in my practice. Don’t own one yet? Watch this video and see if it’s for you!

I’d love to hear what your favorite acupuncture points are and how you are incorporating them. I don’t consider myself a “lazy acupuncturist” but I have found that if others are using great points and getting good results then I might as well follow suit.

I hope that your week is fabulous and, as always, I love to hear your feedback.




Kimberly Thompson, L.Ac.

Acupuncture Research Analyst

Miridia Technology Inc.

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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.

8 Replies to “Acupuncture Cardinal Points – Reference Source

  1. hi Kimberly: As an alternative medicines practitioner here in Mexico I really congratulate you for the nice and neat info you share with us in you blog.
    Also I would like to ask you guide me to share your list of practitioners
    using Acugraph in their private practices.
    A while ago I received an option to be in that list and tried to be enrolled but could not do it.
    If by now the possibility is still open I would like to be in that list.
    My basic profile of what I do in my practice is:Tuina Massage,Cupping,Auriculotherapy,Electroacupuncture and Structural Integration,I have been around Alternative Medicines and TCM for almost 34 years.My location is Veracruz,Mexico and I am a very proud owner of an Acugraph 4.And a good friend of Doctor Onofre and Monica from Morelia,Michoacàn.
    Best Regards.
    Alejandro Urquiola.

    1. Hello Alejandro,

      The “Find an AcuGraph Practitioner” link is now available outside of the United States. Here is a link to a blog post that Kimball wrote with full details:

      To add your information into the system from within AcuGraph, click on the “Help” menu at the top of the page. Then select “Getting Started Checklist” to set it up. You do need to have AcuGraph 4.1.2 or newer to be in the system.

      I look forward to seeing you in the “Find and AcuGraph Practitioner” database.


  2. Kimberly, great article as always. My “lazy” acupuncture treatment follows Miriam Lee’s 10 point protocol. This is for those people who have digestive issues, allergies, possibly hormonal, can’t sleep, etc. Where in the world do I start? Bilateral ST36, SP6, LU7, LI4 and LI11 and Yin Tang and ear Shen Men for good measure. It is a great “reset” treatment. Now I have added Dr. Fratkin’s back treatment to the mix and wowie kazowie. I also throw in essential oils and you just can’t go wrong.

  3. Hi’ Madam Kimberly. Thanks for sharing with us news discoveries. I’m also starting to love acupuncture since it was introduce to us. I try to apply it to myself and my family. I just want to ask favor to you to help me in locating the particular points for Uterine Myoma. It’s already 7mm. I don’t want to be operated. I just want to use some alternative traditional way of healing. Can you please help me. Thanks ahead. God bless you.

    1. Hello Joan,

      There are always multiple ways to treat any given problem. The trick is knowing what resources are available to you. As always, with Chinese medicine, the practitioner will have to do a full evaluation to come up with a good diagnosis. I can’t do that for you.

      In my experience uterine fibroids are usually a cause of phlegm damp and blood stasis in the uterus. As always, I would balance the graph as a first step in treatment. After that, you will have to consider if you are going to use herbs to deal with the root cause of the problem.

      As far as a branch treatment, if you have the Auriculo PC program, you may want to do a search for fibroids. The protocol for dysmenorrhea comes to mind. In that protocol there are points for the uterus, kidneys, abdomen, ovaries, etc. I would also consider opening the Ren Mai and the Chong Mai. In the reference section of the AcuGraph you will find a protocol for Menstruation–Dysmenorrhea. This may be of help.

      Best of luck to you,


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