Case Study: The Kidney Return Protocol 5/5 (73)

kidney return

We’ve had a lot of conversation lately about the Kidney Return protocol. It’s an exciting subject, and a lot of practitioners are sharing some amazing results they’ve achieved with this treatment. The Kidney Return protocol is extremely helpful when patient has low energy levels. It’s designed to rally up and redistribute the Kidney Qi, which makes your treatment more effective.

NOTE: If you aren’t familiar with the Kidney Return Protocol, I’d suggest you go back and read my last blog post on the subject. In that blog post I list a lot of resources to learn more about the Kidney Return Protocol, Divergent Channel Treatment and strategies to use ion pumping cords.

Read my first post: The Kidney Return Protocol >> 

In this post, I will share an interesting case study involving the Kidney Return Protocol

  • First, I’ll walk you through my thought process when analyzing the graph over the course of two visits. 
  • Next, I’ll show you how the Kidney Return Protocol helped improve the patient’s energy level within AcuGraph in one visit.
  • Finally, I’ll show you how the changes in energy levels on the second treatment helped me to develop a shorter, and more effective treatment strategy.

Case Study


75-year-old male. General good health for his age. Type 2 diabetes with neuropathy. Spent his lifetime as an active athlete involved in all types of sports (ie football, track, marathons, tennis, golf, etc.)

Chief Complaint: Chronic Lower Pack Pain

kidney return

This patient’s back pain was worse on the right side. He experienced numbness, without pain, in both feet, atrophy of the right foot (from neuropathy) and arthritis in both hands with pain that came and went. He described his all over pain as debilitating and rated it at a 7/10.

Noteworthy: He has had 4 back surgeries. His spine has been fused from T-7 to S1.

Graph # 1

kidney return

As noted in my previous blog post, if the graph’s average reading is less than 40, AcuGraph 5 will automatically offer the suggestion for the Kidney Return protocol under the expert treatment option.

The points used for the Kidney Return Protocol are BL 40, BL 23, and BL 11. In the above picture, you can see them listed to the right in the treatment plan.

Graph Analysis #1

kidney return

For a root treatment, I had many options. Obviously there were a lot of imbalances. I decided that because this patient’s average was so low, and because he is elderly, I’d focus his first treatment on the Kidney Return Protocol. This treatment uses very few needles and is effective for strengthening Kidney Essence.

Treatment Plan #1

  • I had the patient lay face down. I then attached ion pumping cords to the recommended treatment points.
  • I used 4 ion pumping cords.
  • The goal was to pull energy from BL 40 and redistribute it to BL 23 and BL 11. 
  • To supplement this treatment, I also did some “surround the dragon” work with the scar on his spine.
  • Once the needles were inserted and ion pumping cords were attached, the patient laid on the table under a heat lamp for approximately 30 minutes. 

Graph #2

kidney return

The patient returned for treatment 5 days later. I was happy to see that the average had risen from 33 to 55! I was equally happy that his body had begun adjusting. Notice how the second graph has a lot more green. There were fewer imbalances to address, which made it easier for me to fine-tune my treatment.

Graph Analysis #2

Let’s analyze graph #2. Because there are fewer imbalances, it’s easier to analyze the root cause of this patient’s problem. For this analysis, we will look at the graph via the Energy Cycle view.

kidney return

Let’s look at this graph from two different perspectives. 

kidney return

First Perspective: The muscle meridians

  • There is excess in both the Small Intestine and Bladder meridians—with a deficiency in the Kidney immediately following. 
  • My analysis of the excess in the Small Intestine and Bladder meridians was blood stagnation. Palpation of the muscular pathways confirmed my theory. 
  • It’s hard to strengthen the Kidney meridian if the two pathways before it are holding on to excess chi.
  • We need the Small Intestine and Bladder channels to “let go” of some of their excess in order for the Kidney to resolve it’s deficit. 
  • We also need to strengthen the Kidney meridian in the process. 

My treatment plan is nearly formulated, all except for the deficiency in the Lung meridian. I ask the patient if he has been ill. He says no. I decide to take a look at the internal pathways to see if I can make some type of a connection.

kidney return

Second Perspective: The Internal Pathways

You can gain a lot of insight by analyzing the internal pathways. Often the internal pathways can help you to make sense of other imbalances in the graph. The relationship of internal pathways can also give you good insight into extra points to add to your treatment plan. 

  • The internal aspect of the Kidney meridian affects both the Lung and the Kidney.  I surmise that strengthening the Kidney will also help to strengthen the Lung.  
  • The patient also underwent spinal fusion of a portion of the thoracic spine and all of his lumbar vertebrae. It makes sense that there could be a deficiency based on scar tissue blockages which matched the internal aspect of the Kidney meridian. 
  • Governing Vessel 14. Notice that it is a crossing point for both the Small Intestine and Bladder Meridians… 
  • Here is what I know about Governing Vessel 14. It is a crossing point for all six of the yang meridians: SI, LI, TE, BL, GV and ST. It’s great to strengthen the Wei Qi, which is helpful in this case because the Lung pathway is weak. It also has an effect on bone  issues, arthritis, and hand issues. 
  • I decide that Governing Vessel 14 is a valuable point for today’s treatment. 

Treatment Plan #2

After analyzing the graph from multiple perspectives I chose the treatment plan that made the most sense for the day. 

  1. Rapid Release:
    • I didn’t use the Rapid Release on the first visit, because I felt that the patient was too deficient. On this visit it made more sense.
    • I used Rapid Release vibrational therapy on the Small Intestine and Bladder muscular pathways to resolve chronic qi and blood stagnation
  2. Tonify the Kidney: I chose Kidney 7 simply because it is the tonification point of the channel. 
  3. Governing Vessel 14: There were many reasons to add this point. Crossing point, arthritis, sea of qi, hand issues, wei qi, etc. 
  4. Surround the Dragon: Next I did a surround the dragon approach to help resolve stagnation at his scar. 
  5. Back Shu Points: As I was surrounding the dragon, I realized that I could use the Back Shu Points for the Small Intestine, Bladder and Kidney channels in the process. Once I was done I decided to also add the Back Shu Points of the LU just to keep everything perfectly balanced. 

Final Analysis

I have two take-home messages for this post…

  1. I hope you recognize how valuable the Kidney Return protocol can be for just the right patient. It really is a great tool for boosting energy levels. You won’t use it every time there is a basic Kidney channel deficiency, but it is really valuable when the energy levels are really low. Because I boosted the Kidney Qi on visit #1, I was able to create a more succinct treatment plan on visit #2.
  2. There is a lot of room for creativity within AcuGraph. Dig deeper. Look at relationships via the energy cycle, the muscular pathways, and the internal pathways. With experience you’ll begin to develop new strategies to enhance you treatment.   

Until Next Time,

Kimberly Thompson, L.Ac. 

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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.

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