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  • Alison Lyon-Murphy

What are acupuncture points?


The acupuncture channels

The Chinese character for acupuncture point is 穴道 and is made up of two characters


xue, meaning cave or den and



dao, meaning way or path


I think this better describes what acupuncture points are: An area on a pathway where a small hollow or dip can be felt. When you become familiar with their location you can feel a dip as you run your fingers over them.


But how about the path part?


Acupoints are located along pathways called meridians or channels. The location of acupuncture points is not random, the points were mapped according to effects observed when certain areas of the body were punctured with a needle, by practitioners over 3000 years ago (Longhurst, 2010).


There are 12 main channels where acupuncture points are found. There are also extraordinary points, not found on the main channels.

Acupuncture points have specific effects and work in combination to produce the therapeutic effects. It is the skill of the acupuncturist in knowing which points to combine that results in a successful treatment.


When acupoints were first discovered modern science didn’t exist. It was the observation of the response to needling that led to the collating of the points, however now science seeks to explain how acupuncture works in physiological terms. This is proving illusive but there are studies that suggest acupuncture works on the nervous system. But, whatever the basis of how it works, there is no denying it helps to relieve the symptoms of many healthcare issues for many people


The reference below offers more information on this subject.


Longhurst, J.C., 2010. Defining Meridians: A Modern Basis of Understanding. Journal of Acupuncture and Meridian Studies, [online] 3(2), pp.67–74. Available at: <https://www-sciencedirect-com.libaccess.hud.ac.uk/science/article/pii/S2005290110600143>


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