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Acupunct Med. 2011 Dec;29(4):289-94. doi: 10.1136/acupmed.2011.010056. Epub 2011 Oct 14.

Neuroanatomical characteristics of acupuncture points: relationship between their anatomical locations and traditional clinical indications.

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North East Medical Services, 82 Leland Avenue, San Francisco, CA 94134, USA.


This study examines the relationship between the anatomical location of traditional acupuncture points and their clinical indications as stated in two textbooks of traditional Chinese medicine (TCM). The following relationships are noted: (1) The acupuncture points in the trunk and their stated effects on the internal organs in the trunk have a segmental relationship--that is, acupuncture points within certain spinal segments in the trunk affect the functioning of the organs that receive autonomic innervation from the same spinal segments. This is consistent with the concept of segmental acupuncture and the idea that acupuncture may act via the somatic sympathetic reflex with a spinal pathway to affect the trunk organs. (2) The acupuncture points in the trunk and extremities have a musculoskeletal effect that is local or regional, but not distal. This is consistent with some of the models of acupuncture mechanisms on musculoskeletal effects in the Western medical acupuncture approach. (3) The acupuncture points on the head and neck preferentially affect the nearest organ. This presumably reflects the belief in TCM that acupuncture can somehow regulate the functioning of the proximal organ. No clear relationship can be identified between the myotome level of the acupuncture points in the extremities and their non-musculoskeletal clinical indications.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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