If I can draw on the work of Debra Kaatz a prominent five element acupuncturist who in her book “Characters of Wisdom” describes sidu comprised of ‘si’ drawn as two halves which are then divided again, and ‘du’ as gutters or rivers. Thus in the character sidu we have the four rivers going in the four directions. To my mind this depiction can relate to the nervous system that flows and travels in all directions innervating all aspects of our body on a multitude of levels.
If we take this concept of sidu SJ 9’s ability to down regulate the nervous system and apply it to the acupuncture treatment table I can say that through the use of this acu-point it releases a contracted sternocleidomastoid muscle beautifully. If we observe basic anatomy, the vagus nerve (parasympathetic nerve) travels deep to the sternocleidomastoid (SCM) muscle and thus if the SCM is tight and contracted it can inhibit/restrict parasympathetic nerve innervation systemically. Resulting in a heightened state of sympathetic (fight or flight) mode and the subsequent health issues that can manifest from being in this dominated state. I would like to highlight that the autonomic nervous system and parasympathetic/sympathetic innervation is constantly at play in our bodies, one in not ‘bad’ and one is not ‘good’, our homeostatic function depends on the delicate balance that is constantly at play. However for the purpose of this post, I will say that when dealing with anxiety, mood disorders, and nervous system issues it is of paramount importance to assess the integrity of the autonomic nervous system (through an acupuncture perspective) and treat accordingly by engaging that parasympathetic (rest and digest) aspect (i.e. via sanjiao, spleen, pericardium meridians).
I find it very interesting that when treating individuals who may be experiencing stress, anxiety, emotional issues that may be caused by, or are causing a state of sympathetic nervous system dominance, the pericardium mu point (where the energetics of the pericardium emanate) Ren 17 is almost always sensitive to palpation. Now if we look at one of the functions the classical Chinese attributed to the pericardium concept it was ‘the heart’s protector and that from which joy emanates’. The classical Chinese also attributed the heart as the “emperor’ and where ‘shen’ or the ‘spirit’ resides. Keeping this in mind it is no surprise that an acu-point (ren 17) that is where the energetics of the pericardium (heart/spirit protector) emanates on the surface of the body will show pressure pain and thus dysfunction in those experiencing emotional difficulty/anxiety and sympathetic dominance. Furthermore, master acupuncturist Kiiko Matsumoto attributes pressure pain on this acu-point (Ren 17) to stress, anxiety, and emotional issues, and I can certainly say that in my acupuncture practice I find the same presentation, and one of the acu-points that releases this pressure pain on Ren 17 (pericardium mu point) is sidu SJ 9.
These above paragraphs highlight how theory can be actively tested on the body through palpation and how the results gained on the acupuncture table can provide confirmation or reorientation. My experience in treating and utilising the acu-point Sidu SJ 9 has confirmed and given me confidence in the ‘theory’ passed down by extremely experienced acupuncturists, and I feel it is truly an amazing yet underrated acu-point.
As always, if anyone has questions please feel free to contact me.
Giancarlo Nerini - Licensed Acupuncturist