Spleen 10, the Urinary System, and Passing Through Kidney Points
Spleen 10 (SP 10) is a popular acupuncture point best known for treating conditions related to the blood. It is used for gynecological disorders, blood deficiency, anemia, and skin disorders. In the Master Tung system, SP 10 overlaps with the point 88.10 which is used for kidney, urinary, and reproductive conditions. Comparing the indications of these points we find that both SP 10 and 88.10 are used for disorders involving the lower jiao and pelvis.
In TCM SP 10 may be used with a variety of other points depending on what symptoms and patterns are present in the patient. In the Master Tung system, SP 10 (88.10) is used in combination with two other points located two cun below and above SP 10. This point combination is known as Passing Through Kidneys and derives its name from being useful for urinary and kidney disorders like nephritis, lin syndrome (dysuria), edema, proteinuria, pyelonephritis, and cystitis. This combination of three points is also used for male and female reproductive disorders including impotence, premature ejaculation, vaginal discharge, and endometritis.
In myofascial anatomy, spleen 10 and 88.09 - 88.11 are located on the superficial front line (SFL). The SFL includes the vastus medialis and rectus abdominis muscles. As muscles on a myofascial line are connected via the fascia, stimulation in one area of a myofascial line can affect other muscles within that line through mechanical forces. As an example, try contracting your quadriceps from a seated position. To do this lift one leg, straighten the knee, and contract your quads as tight as you can. Notice how the muscular tension from the quadriceps gets transferred to the abdominal muscles. This is an example of how muscular tension and forces (qi) get transferred through the myofascia.
On the internal side of the abdominis rectus muscle, the bladder attaches to the anterior abdominal wall via the median umbilical ligament. This makes a direct connection between the bladder and SFL. Anatomically, we can trace this connection from the points SP 10 and Passing Through Kidneys in the vastus medialis, to the abdominal muscles, and then internally to the bladder via the connective tissues. Similarly, the uterus has attachments to the peritoneum which also connects to the pelvis, abdominal cavity, and abdominal wall. Tracing out these myofascial connections gives us an anatomical and mechanical basis for understanding the interior-exterior relationships described in Chinese medicine and meridian theory.
While we often think of acupuncture points as having specific functions, we need to remember that structure and function are intimately related. The structure of the myofascia supports not only the musculoskeletal system but also the internal viscera. As organs are surrounded by fascia and connective tissues we can map various connections that the organs have with external structures. I cover this topic extensively in my internal medicine class. For now, it is sufficient to say that the outer parietal fascial layers of the organs are the key anatomical structures that relate to the internal-external relationships between the organs and meridians.
Taking this back to spleen 10 and the Passing Through Kidney points, we can observe that points on the SFL can be advantageous for urinary and reproductive disorders. However, the effects of these needles work on the more superficial levels. The points SP 10, 88.09, 88.10, and 88.11 do not reach the deeper levels like other foot yin meridian points do which are on the Deep Front Line (DFL). To reach the DFL we need to use points like LV 3, SP 6 - SP 9, and kidney meridian points. When needling points on the DFL they will reach the deeper levels of the pelvis. Note that liver, spleen, and kidney points are all indicated for reproductive and urinary conditions.
As a case in point, imagine only needling points on the SFL such as SP 10, ST 36, Ren 6, and Red 4 for urinary and reproductive disorders. The results would not be so effective as when also using points like LV 3, SP 6, SP 7, SP 9, and KI 7. However, if you were to only use points on the DFL for either urinary or reproductive disorders, you would likely get a stronger result than only using SFL points. The points on the DFL affect the deep pelvic structures, but the points on the SFL affect more superficial levels and fascial connections.
Having practiced TCM, the Balance Method, and Master Tung style acupuncture for twenty years, I have found that the Balance Method and Tung system will often excel over typical Western-style TCM point prescriptions. One reason for this is the use of dao ma’s in the Tung system, which will use two or three points in close proximity to each other.
In the case of SP 10, we don't just needle SP 10, but we also needle two additional points two cun above and below spleen 10. This amplifies the results and insures that strong enough stimulation is provided on the SFL. Similarly, when using either SP 6 or SP 9, the Tung system will needle three points called the Lower Three Emperors which are essentially SP 6, SP 7, and SP 9. This dao ma of three spleen meridian points is much more powerful than just needling one point like SP 6 or SP 9.
To learn more about how myofascial anatomy can transform your practice visit my page on acupuncture and fascia.