Inconceivable! 5/5 (40)

InconceivableHello Friends,

I originally posted this in August, 2009. Four years later, it’s still as applicable as ever. Enjoy!

One of my college memories from the late 1980’s was a movie called The Princess Bride. This swashbuckling tale of true love and high adventure features a hilarious villian by the name of Vizzini, who, when confronted with the continual failure of his evil plans, always responds with utter disbelief. Despite the absolute evidence of his failure, his response never varies:


He simply can’t cope with the cognitive dissonance encountered when his deeply held beliefs about his own superiority utterly fail to correspond with the reality before his eyes. At one point, when the hero is chasing this villain, and gaining on him, Vizzini explains to one of his co-conspirators that nobody could possibly be chasing them because it would be, “…absolutely, totally, and in all other ways inconceivable!”

And yet it was true.

Vizzini went right on denying the reality of the situation until it cost him his life.

So what does that have to do with AcuGraph? Take a look at this graph:

Kidney graph.png

See anything unusual? Anything wrong? Anything inconceivable? How about that Kidney meridian?

Traditional Chinese Medicine teaches that the Kidney meridian can never be in excess. Or almost never–there are a few obscure references to Kidney excess, but the generally accepted wisdom is that an excess kidney is, well, inconceivable.

And yet, there it is. Right before our eyes.

Now, before we jump to the conclusion that it must be an error with the AcuGraph equipment, please keep in mind that the AcuGraph hardware is really just a glorified ohmmeter. It simply measures resistance and reports it to the computer. It can’t be wrong about Kidney and right about all the other meridians.

Hmmm. So what could it be?

While you ponder that, I’ll toss out a few statistics I’ve discovered as I’ve researched this Kidney issue further. Based on a study of 93,000 graphs, the kidney meridian results are shown on the pie chart shown below:

KI Chart

So the point is that Kidney excess shows up on the graph more often than we might expect. In fact, it shows up more often than Kidney deficiency! And whether it fits with our pre-conceived notions or not, it’s right there in front of us. So what can it be?

I have three thoughts, then I’d like your input.

1. Perhaps more than any other organ, the Kidney has very important yin and yang functions. If Kidney yin is deficient, it causes the Kidney yang to look relatively excessive–and show up as excess on the graph, when the real root may be the yin deficiency.

2. A water or dampness issue can cause the Kidney to look excessive. This is often the case with an excessive spleen; it’s really a damp spleen.

3. The sedation point for Kidney is KI 1, which is also the lowest acupuncture point on the body. It is a point that grounds qi to the earth and subdues excess. According to Deadman, “When kidneys are deficient below, pathologically ascending qi, yang, deficiency, heat or wind may rush upwards to harass the head. [There is a] powerful effect of KI-1 on descending and clearing such excess…” In other words, a poorly grounded patient may manifest Kidney excess on the graph, and treating KI-1 corrects this problem.

What about you? Have you encountered this issue before? What do you think when you see an excessive Kidney meridian?

Leave a comment below and let’s educate each other.

And if you want a fun trip down memory lane, you can see the “inconceivable” Vizzini video here.

Please rate this



Dr. Adrian Larsen

Adrian P. Larsen, D.C., F.A.S.A., C.Ac. Dr. Larsen is President of Miridia Technology Inc., and one of the developers of the AcuGraph Digital Meridian Imaging system. He currently divides his time between research, product development, and teaching. Dr. Larsen also holds certifications in Applied Kinesiology and CPK, and has specialized training in SOT and craniopathy. He, his wife, and 7 children reside in Meridian, Idaho.

17 Replies to “Inconceivable!

  1. I find that when the Kidney meridian in found to be excessive with acugraph it is usually due to adrenal fatigue, which fits with the idea of deficiency fire or weak kidney yin. When the kidney merdian is weak I find it is due to low kidney qi. Therefore when it is excessive it is due to low yin and when it is weak it is due to weak qi. Anyway that is how I see it in clinic.

  2. My thoughts on this are the acugraph is measuring the meridian, any meridian can be in excess. As in external pathogenic excess wind cold damp heat. The statement that the kidneys could not be in excess was really meant for the organ not specific to the meridian.

    1. I agree. The Agugraph is detecting energy running along the meridians. When a meridian is excess, it may be compensating for an organ weakness. I know this is a couple times through the looking glass, but we are talking about acupuncture. 😉

  3. I think additional steps are necessary to deduce an accurate assessment. Electrodermal testing is measuring resistance. The key in electrodermal testing is using techniques (microcurrent needles,Tuina, herbs, homeopathy etc.)to restore balance. Pulse (hard to learn) tongue and effectively asking the 10 questions during the intake process is what helps you to establish clinical patterns of disharmony according to TCM theory. Dr. Larsen, I think your application of TCM theory based on the graph readings makes theoretical sense.
    If the patient has night sweats, ringing in the ear and the graph shows kidney channel excess, they are still kidney yin deficient according to TCM theory. Treat imbalances from the graph, not diagnose (my opinion).

  4. I found after interviewing the patients that they have problem with their sex life and that is true for almost every patient with K excess. I have seen this in both the husband and wives.Either he may have erection problems or the wife is sufferring due to lack of sex and with a quite excess libido.

  5. Nice comments, but how does one accurately and effectively treat the patient? My Japanese sensei Ikeda Masakazu states that in Japan this phenomenon is common and it occurs when there is “deficiency” heat trapped in the heart, they gently “tonify” K2, the fire point to bring down the excess fire in kidney. If you look at the Heart & SI, they are the only ones deficient! “Tonifying” K2 brings down the kidney meridian while tonifying the Heart! He says thats this treatment is stated somewhere in the classic’s (forgot which chapter), and that this was debated thoroughly at Ryodoraku conferences in the 70’s in Japan.

  6. I think the use of K1 would be a very painful point on the sole of the foot, K6 would be a better point to tonify the yin in my opinion. Balancing the yin should ground the kidney qi and be less painful as well for the patient.
    Does the acugraph recommend K6?
    best regards Kim

  7. historically, stating that the kindeys can never be excessive is simply a teaching device referring to the kidneys role in storing essence. Clinically, issues like damp heat in the lower burner, kidney stones, kidney infections, and various others could properly be considered kidney excess.

  8. Hi
    K1 point is not so “bad” to needle, you just have to add alot of distraction in by pinching the skin and insert at the same time. Some needling authors call this the nailing the needle as you do push in your finger nail to do this. K1 is powerful so don’t over look this.

    Also point joining can be done via needling Liv3 to K1, but this takes a bit more skill to do without creating pain.

  9. I tend to agree with the deficiency Fire, adrenal fatigue assessment. I find many patients with this type of excess; which would indicate a greater inflammatory response going on, a decrease in the organs capacitance or ability to contain the Qi. The Kidney/Adrenal system is overworking and trying to compensate. In patients who have had chemotherapy or other major assault I usually see very low readings after several rounds of chemo.

  10. Hi Adrian,
    I find your reasoning to be quite sound, and backed by your scans. What people need to remember is that Acugraph does not diagnose. Period. It is a tool to assess meridian imbalances which add to the body of knowledge we,as practitioners use to make a proper diagnosis. If it was that simple, we would not need schooling or licensing.
    As for the K1 needling, I’ve found the thought of this being a painful spot to needle was more in my head than my patients in the past. Proper needle sizing (and needle quality) and confident needling technique goes a long way to painless acupuncture.

  11. I find if the kidney point is in excess I can usually find that kidney1 is needing a lot of support but I also find the lungs are needing a boost. I would treat the lungs with homoepathy complex mixes depending on what the acupro picked up in bacterial and viral dept. Also if the kidney point is in excess the blood pressure can be high or the patient has been diagnosed by doctors with ME.

  12. adrian may be its time to add to acugrah computerised pulse analysis and this will confirm acugraph diagnosis and also a great plus for all acugraph users

  13. Yes, I tend to agree that the AcuGraph is a Qi measurement tool, and not a Zang-fu diagnostic tool, not at all. It is an important distinction, of which practitioners such as Dr Richard Tan has tried to explain. It is not commonly touched upon in great depth in Acu school in the US, where much emphasis is placed on Zang-fu understanding.

  14. Dr. Larsen, If I understand the Acugraph correctly, the more current flowing in the meridian, the lower the resistance, and high current flow is displayed as ‘excess.” is it possible that this really represents a deficiency in the organ and the body is opening up the meridian in order to generate more flow to that area?

  15. Yes, I agree with point #1 that what shows up as Kidney excess is very likely Kidney yin–or even Kidney jing–deficiency. When the Kidney system is highly stressed, it starts OVERWORKING–like beating the proverbial dead horse–but it is struggling beyond its capacity. I have seen this with numerous patients, and this year very close to home: A family member, age 77, was hospitalized with rhabdomyolysis and acute kidney failure at the beginning of the year. I first obtained the AcuGraph system in May, and for the first few months, he tested as Liver and Kidney excess, and extremely Spleen and Bladder deficient (to be expected after rhabdo, when so much muscle tissue was lost). Now, at last, the Liver and Kidneys are starting to show up “green.” Moxa on Kidney 1 was an essential part of nearly every treatment in the process.

    For those of your debating about the use of Kidney 1, why not use stick-on or rice-grain moxa? The patient does not incur the pain of needles, and if my theory about Kidney yin and/or jing deficiency masquerading as overworked Kidney “excess” is valid, then what better than moxa to nourish the deficiency?

    And I also agree with Adrian’s #3 point about Kidney excess as a sign of a person not being “grounded.” Moxa will help that, too. Consider that as we age, our upper chakras enlarge, while the lower chakras tend to become smaller. The recommended treatment will help “ground” and strengthen the aging patient so he/she can remain stable and stronger on the earth plane longer.

  16. Dear Dr. Larsen:
    As a well acknowledge proffesional on Acupuncture, and father of the Acugraph tool , could tell us if it is:
    A Zang-fu organs diagnostic tool.
    A Qi measurement tool.
    A tool to detect meridians imbalance.
    All of the above.
    We all appreciate your definition….thank you very much.

So, what do you think about it?