LU 7 & the Three Scholars (33.13 - 33.15)
Lung 7 (Lie Que, Broken Sequence) is a very popular point with diverse functions. However, getting a strong and immediate response with this point can be challenging. In this post, I want to share how to use this point so that you can get better results in your clinical practice. I also want to discuss some of the major energetics of LU 7 and how it relates to myofascial lines.
As the luo (connecting) and confluent point for the Ren meridian (Conception vessel), LU 7 has systemic effects on many meridians and organs. It is also a command point - and heavenly star point - which further illustrates the profound effects of this acupuncture point. The image below can help us to better understand how lung 7 treats diverse conditions such as respiratory disorders, neck pain, and more.
The Lung Meridian and Superficial Front Arm Line (SFAL)
The image on the far left shows the SFAL and includes the pectoralis major, forearm flexor muscles, and latissimus dorsi.
The purple image in the center shows the brachioradialis muscle, and we can see that LU 7 is in the region of the tendon of this muscle.
LU 7 and the Three Scholars
Traditionally, LU 7 is located 1.5 cun above the wrist crease and between the tendons of brachioradialis and abductor pollicis longus. These two tendons are quite small and care needs to be taken so as to not pierce them. In the Grey's anatomy image with the brachioradialis in purple, we can see that the tendon for this muscle is quite long and very near LU 7. Also, notice how as we move proximal to LU 7, and towards LU 6, we start to get into the belly of the muscle.
While LU 7 often produces strong de qi, it takes experience and skill to get the most out of this point. In the Master Tung system, rather than just needling LU 7, a common point prescription is to needle two or three points just proximal to LU 7.
The Master Tung points 33.13, 33.14, and 33.15 are collectively known as the Three Scholars and are often needled together as a dao ma. However, I have found that for many conditions it is sufficient to only needle 33.13 and 33.14. I will include 33.15 for hyporesponsive patients or when clients present with mixed lung and kidney patterns, such as when a patient has asthma and low back pain occurring together.
Notice that as we move proximally and into the region of LU 6 and 33.14 that we start to get into the larger aspect of the tendon. Additionally, the point 33.15 is near the belly of the muscle. It has also been my observation that with palpation the region between 33.13 and LU 6 tends to be where most of the tender ashi points are located. When I needle this line (lung meridian) I usually do two or three needles between 33.13 and 33.15 in the most sensitive areas.
Do the Three Scholars Work Better than LU 7 Alone?
This is a question I asked myself for many years and it has been my experience that needling two or three of the most sensitive points between LU 7 and 33.15 produces the best result. This applies to all the conditions that lung 7 is indicated for as well as upper back pain, grief, digestive, and urinary disorders.
While I still do needle LU 7 (when it is one of the most sensitive points with palpation) I tend to needle points more proximal. I do this because I find that needling into the muscles is often more effective than needling into bony areas or regions with little tendons. Saying that I want to clarify that there are times when I want to needle into bony areas and even apply bone-pecking techniques. Similarly, there are times when I want to needle into large tendons like the Achilles or fibular tendons, but I don't want to pierce or damage small tendons like can be found around lung 7 and kidney 6.
In summary, I have found that needling two or three sensitive points between LU 7 and 33.15 produces the best results and that care must be taken when needling lung 7.
Lung 7 as the Confluent Point for the Ren Mai and the Front Functional Line
In the image to the right, we can see the Superficial Front Arm Line (SFAL) on the left and the Front Functional Line on the far right.
Notice how the pectoralis major which is part of the SFAL blends into the abdominis rectus muscle. The Ren mai passes through the middle of the abdomen and the abdominis rectus muscle as well.
Following the interconnected myofascial lines, we can trace routes of energy transmission from LU 7 and the Three Scholars through to the lower abdomen. Could this have something to do with the energetics of LU 7 and it being the confluent point for the Ren mai?
Qi Transmission and Mechanical Forces
Since we generally think of qi as energy, it can be useful to speak of qi in terms of different forms of energy as defined in Western sciences. For our purposes, it is useful to consider nerve transmission (electrical energy), muscle movement (mechanical energy), and chemical (biochemical) energy. When talking about myofasciae, mechanical energy relates to how muscles move, hold tension, and develop trigger points. We can also think of qi transmission as a mechanical force related to the diverse activities of muscles. (Qi Kung for anyone?)
When we needle LU 7 or the Three Scholars, nerves are stimulated as well as the myofascial lines. While nerve reactions associated with acupuncture have been thoroughly studied, less is known about the effects on the myofascial system. However, the myofascial lines provide an anatomical framework for the meridians and a mechanical basis for the movement of energy. Simple exercises of contracting muscles and feeling how it affects other muscles on the myofascial line demonstrate the movement of qi and energetic force transmission.
For instance, try contracting your abdominal muscles as tight as you can and notice how it affects the pectoral muscles, shoulders, and arms. If you are aware enough of your body and squeeze the abdominal muscle contraction hard enough, you will feel the pectoral muscles, deltoids, and various arm muscles tighten as well. This exercise reveals how energy moves through the Front Functional line and from the abdomen, Ren mai, and to the chest, arms, and lung meridian.
There are many exercises like this with other muscles and myofascial lines that reveal how muscle contractions affect the other muscles within that line. In a similar regard, qi propagation from acupuncture will also follow these lines and relates to both nerves and myofascial responses. By becoming familiar with the myofascial lines, and how energy moves through these lines, we can come to better comprehend the effects of various acupuncture points.
Below is a list of more blog posts that will help you to better understand how acupuncture point functions relate to myofascial anatomy.
Dao Ma's - How to get better synergy with acupuncture points
Spleen 6, San Yin Jiao, and the Deep Front Fascial Line
Lung 1 and Anterior Shoulder Pain