The purpose of this blog post is to highlight an acupuncture point that is very similar in name (to Zu San Li ST 36) but much less well known & less utilised in most acupuncture schools and styles. The tenth acupuncture point on the foot Jueyin (Liver) meridian, Zu Wu Li (Liv 10).
First, let us observe the Chinese characters that the classical acupuncturists drew to encapsulate the essence of this particular acupuncture point. The character ‘Zu’ relates to a foot that is walking its path in a balanced, meditative manner. ‘Zu’ also conjures up the idea of a foot that is ‘ready to go’ into motion, thus it is at rest yet ready for ‘action/motion’. The character used to depict the concept of ‘Wu’ shows two lines drawn in a ‘cross’ manner with one line above and one below. The line above pertains to the ‘heavens’ and the line below to ‘earth’, with the interpenetration of the descending heavenly virtue with the earthly reception giving rise to the (centre ‘cross’) five phases or elements. Thus the character ‘Wu’ also relates to the number five.
The character for ‘Li’ is very interesting to me as for many years I perceived it to relate directly to a unit of measurement or a ‘Chinese mile/kilometre’. This may be somewhat true, however the character represents much more and the manner in which it depicts its meaning is absolutely fascinating. ‘Li’ is drawn as a field or pasture that is used for the cultivation of crops, which is placed above the character that pertains to ‘earth’. ‘Li’ represents a small settlement of farming families that in ancient times would work together in order to cultivate their food and means of living. Thus the character ‘Li’ conjures up concepts that we could imagine relate to a small settlement of farming families at this time. For example, when their crops would have been affected by drought or disease, sadness & melancholy would fill the families as ‘food’ cannot be generated. Thus, the character ‘Li’ can also relate to the feeling or state of ‘melancholy’. Now, the concept of a unit of measurement I mentioned previously comes about due to the fact that the distance between two ‘Li’ (small farming settlements) was seen as a ‘Chinese mile’. Hence, to translate the character ‘Li’ merely to ‘Chinese Mile’ is very over simplified and thus leads one to miss out on the rich descriptive nature & the relative concepts that can be conveyed by the character that is ‘Li’.
In regards to the clinical application of Zu Wu Li (Liv 10) in my own acupuncture practice, I tend to palpate this region and feel for tightness and restriction as this can be seen as an obstruction to the meridian flow or ‘vascular compression’ of the inner thigh as seen in KMS acupuncture. Thus, in presentations of OBGYN, cold tan tien, digestive issues or if distal acupuncture points do not seem to be working in the release of abdominal palpatory findings I will utilise (palpate & needle) this region. I generally find that this region (Zu Wu Li) benefits the passage of Qi & blood from the lower abdomen to the leg and vice versa, thus it certainly has the potential to be used and effectively assist in the treatment of many more conditions than I have mentioned above.
As always, feel free to contact me with any questions you may have.
Giancarlo Nerini - Acupuncturist (Melbourne & Mornington Peninsula)