Using SI 3 and UB 62 together is a very well-known point combination that is said to open the Du Mai and Yang Qiao meridians. In this blog post, I want to demonstrate an anatomical and myofascial basis for this point combinations actions. Additionally, I want to discuss some point combinations that have similar benefits as SI 3 and UB 62 but are even more effective. I am aware that such a statement may be met with some backlash, as SI 3 and UB 62 are often viewed as golden elixirs for opening the extraordinary meridians. However, with close examination, we can find anatomical, myofascial, and neurological reasons for this hypothesis.
Point Combinations and Dao Ma's
An essential key to getting effective results with acupuncture is to use the right point combinations. Using a single needle for treatment is usually not sufficient, and finding the right combinations can determine if a treatment will be successful or not. Similarly, using several points on the same meridian is often more effective than using a single point. For example, using ST 36, ST 37, and/or ST 40 together as a two or three-point combination tends to produce better results than just using ST 36 alone. It should be noted that many TCM point protocols will use ST 36 with another stomach point such as ST 37 or ST 40.
In TCM and the Master Tung system, it is common to use two or three points in close proximity or on the same meridian as a unit. This is so powerful that two or three points can even be all that is required to get fast and effective results for many conditions. Anyone familiar with the Master Tung system can attest to how effective two or three-point combinations can be, and this is one of the secrets of the Tung system, it uses dao ma's (points close to each other) as a primary method of treatment.
Here are some examples of two and three-point combinations listed with conditions they treat. Note, that I am starting with points similar to SI 3 and UB 62 but listing them as used in the Tung system. We will also discuss these point units in greater detail below.
SI 3 (22.08), 22.09, Wan Shun San - Lumbar pain, sciatica, kidney vacuity and occipital headaches, nephritis, cystitis, thoracic pain, tinnitus, bone disorders, and cervical pain.
7 Tigers (77.26, UB 58 - UB 60 Region) - Scapular, clavicle, and sternal pain, lateral neck pain, pleurisy.
Ling Gu, Da Bai, Zhong Gun (22.04, 22.05, Important Chief) - Lumbar pain, headaches, menstrual pain, pulmonary disorders, laryngitis, fevers, and trigeminal neuralgia.
Four Horses (88.17, 88.18, 88.19) - Respiratory disorders, costal pain, lumbar pain, mastitis, psoriasis, dermatitis, chest pain.
The importance of starting with point combinations that are close to each other cannot be overstated.
Let's see how this relates to the use of SI 3 and UB 62. In TCM, SI 3 and UB 62 are paired together and may be used with a variety of other points depending on the underlying pattern and condition being treated. In the Master Tung system, SI 3 (22.08) is used with one or two other points including 22.09 and Wan Shun San.
In the image on the right, we can see three red dots that represent the points SI 3 (22.08), 22.09, and Wan Shun San. In the Tung system, these three points are used together to get a synergistic effect and they tend to produce much stronger results than using SI 3 alone. Also, note that these three points are on what is known as the Deep Back Arm Line (DBAL) in myofascial terminology. The DBAL includes the hypothenar muscles, fascia along the ulnar ridge, the triceps, scapularis, rhomboids, and levator scapulae muscles.
Could this myofascial line provide a mechanical and muscular basis for the effects of SI 3 and the other two points?
Remember that SI 3 can be used for spinal conditions, occipital headaches, and pain along the SI meridian. From the image of the DBAL, we can see a direct myofascial connection between SI 3 and the cervical and thoracic spine, via the levator scapulae and rhomboid muscles respectively.
The Urinary Bladder Meridian, Superficial Back Line (SBL), 7 Tigers, and UB 62
In the above image, we see the Superficial Back Line (SBL) and Master Tung's points the 7 Tigers (77.26). When needled properly, these points can affect the soleus muscle which is located just below the gastrocnemius and on the SBL. The 7 Tigers can be a more effective point unit compared to UB 62 when treating spinal, neck, and occipital conditions that involve the muscles and fascia. This is likely due to getting stronger stimulation by using three points close to each other which are located in a muscle on the SBL. Compared to UB 62, the 7 Tigers will have a stronger effect on the myofascial system.
A Powerful Way to Use SI 3 and Connecting Urinary Bladder Points
The image below shows an alternate point combination to SI 3 and UB 62. Rather than using two points, this combination uses 5 - 6 needles (I will often only needle 22.08 and 22.09 on the SI meridian). In my experience, 22.08, 22.09, and the 7 Tigers can be used as a more powerful combo than using SI 3 and UB 62.
But what about UB 62, do you ever use it?
I rarely use UB 62 with SI 3 and 22.09 as I find the 7 Tigers tend to produce stronger results for most things. However, there is another point combination in the Master Tung system that does use UB 62 and it includes UB 60 and UB 65. This dao ma is named Foot Control the Spine Three needles (UB 62, UB 60, and UB 65) and it has many of the same indications as SI 3 and UB 62 including lumbar/spinal pain, neck pain, and headaches.
In my experience, pain in the back and neck tend to respond better with the 7 Tigers compared to the UB 60, UB 62, and UB 65 combination. However, for headaches with a neurological basis, I may choose to use the foot points instead.
Why do you prefer UB 60, 62, and 65 for headaches?
In the Balance Method and Tung style acupuncture we "image" the head to the hands and feet. This means that disorders of the head and face can be treated with points on the hands and feet. Typically, points on the hands and feet give a stronger de qi reaction than more proximal points. As points on the hands and feet generally produce a stronger reaction, they likely have stronger effects on the nervous system and stimulate regions in the brain more than points on the upper arms and legs.
Similarly, points on the legs and arms are located on major muscles. When the myofascial system is in a diseased state, needling points that affect the muscles tend to produce stronger and longer-lasting results than needling points on the fingers, toes, ears, and face. For example, if someone suffers from hip pain and has a pelvic tilt or external rotation in their leg that is causing the pain, needling into the affected and connecting muscles usually produces better results than just stopping pain with ear acupuncture. While ear acupuncture may stop pain quickly, it is typically not sufficient to resolve the deep musculoskeletal issues involved in pelvic tilts and rotations in the femur.
Unless the root cause at the pelvis and femur is resolved
the pain can easily return.
For certain patterns of occipital headaches that involve the cervical vertebrae, cervical nerves, or the neurological system, the UB 60, 62, and 65 combination can be just the right points to resolve it. However, for lumbar pain due to a myofascial imbalance, the UB points that reach the muscles of the SBL will usually give better results. This is why UB points in the hamstrings, calves, and on the SBL can be so effective for lumbar pain - they are directly targeting the myofascial system of the SBL and UB meridian. However, points like UB 60, UB 62, and UB 65 don't penetrate large muscles like the soleus and are often insufficient to affect larger muscles further up the myofascial line.
The next time you are considering using SI 3 and UB 62 for lumbar, back, neck, or occipital pain, consider using SI 3, 22.09, and the 7 Tigers instead. I think you will find the results to be more beneficial. Similarly, if you are going to use SI 3 and UB 62 for headaches, consider adding points 22.09, UB 60, and UB 65. The additional points used in this way are a foundational aspect of the Tung system, and can even help to reduce your total needle count.
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