Acupressure applied to Gall Bladder 20.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO) there are 361 charted acupuncture points on the body. Acupuncturists generally recognize any active point on the body that is particularly sensitive as an acupuncture point, so understood in this way, the number of actual points are limitless.

Within the medical tradition of Indian Ayurvedic medicine, there is a comparable number of points on the body that can be treated called marmas. Like Chinese acupuncture the science of marmani developed in India about 5,000 years ago in Vedic times. Ayurvedic texts describe 117 major marma points. Located at anatomical sites where veins, arteries, tendons, bones or joints intersect, they are similar to the more numerous Chinese acupoints as today they are also stimulated by palpation for both diagnosis and healing. Interestingly, about 75 of the 117 principal marma points exactly correspond to principle acupoints used in Chinese medicine.

Many of the points on the Chinese Gall Bladder meridian, especially on the head and shoulders, treat the condition known in Traditional Chinese Medicine as “Wind.” There are broadly two types of wind: “External Wind,” which includes inflammations on the surface layers of the body including allergic reactions affecting the skin, eyes, ears and nasal sinuses as well as viral and bacterial conditions such as colds, flu, headaches and other common afflictions. “Internal Wind” is completely different and includes more chronic diseases such as epilepsy and Parkinson’s. In both cases, the description “Wind” denotes diseases that represent some fundamental instability.

While not exactly corresponding in location, the Chinese acupoint called feng chi or “Wind Palace,” also less poetically known as Gall Bladder 20 (GB 20), seems closely related in action to the Ayurvedic point Krikatika Marma. These points are located within an inch of each other at the occipital base of the skull can be stimulated to treat allergies, itchy eyes and all kinds of headaches. With effective 4- to 5-second stimulation, one can experience a feeling of immediate clearing in the head which caused one of my acupoint students to dub the point/s a “brain cooler.”

Locating GB20 and Krikatika Marma

Feng Chi (GB20) is in a natural groove located behind the ear at the base of the posterior mastoid (ear) bone where the muscles of the neck attach to the skull. Krikatika marma is on both sides of the central axis leading into the skull at the juncture of the 2nd cervical vertebra.

Fortunately both these points are easy to find and easy to massage even on oneself. To locate GB 20, simply interlock the fingers of both hands palms facing inward and cradle the occiput on the back of the skull. Both your thumbs should naturally fall to the grove connecting the neck and the skull on your neck.  Krikatika marma is one inch towards the center on either side of the cervical spine.

These both connect to the brain and are very powerful. Until you become more familiar with their effect you should stimulate them deeply but probably not more than 4 to 5 seconds each.

  • Both points benefit the head, neck, eyes and ears
  • Relieve local pains such as headaches
  • Relieves tension and both physical and emotional stress
  • Treats respiratory conditions such as colds, flu and asthma

They can be used to immediately relieve allergy symptoms especially of the eyes, ears and nasal passages. Neck pain and stiffness with a decrease in range of motion, stress-related emotional disturbance, middle ear infections, tinnitus, Meniere’s syndrome, and asthma.

I sometimes think of GB 20 as a “lobelia” point because like the herb Lobelia inflata, it has such powerful antispasmodic (Wind-relieving) properties. Similarly, stimulating Krikatika affects the upper lobes of the lung, stimulating bronchodilation and the relief of asthma.

GB 20 and Krikatika marma offer instant relief of Meniere's disease which is a disorder of the inner ear that causes episodes of spinning vertigo, feeling of fullness in the ear and fluctuating hearing loss which is progressive, ultimately leading to permanent loss of hearing and ringing in the ear (tinnitus).

Meniere's disease affects only one ear and can occur at any age but usually starts between the ages of 20 and 50. It's considered a chronic condition, but various treatments can help relieve symptoms and minimize the long-term impact on your life. There is no known cure for Meniere’s disease and there are a variety of Western drugs usually with varying degrees of undesirable side effects, ranging from anti-nausea drugs and valium to steroids and even surgical intervention to cut off neurological response. Certainly for this disease alone, GB 20 and krikatika marma, with no side effects, are worth trying.

GB 20 and Krikatika marma are also useful for those who may experience brain fog and eyestrain from study or working with a computer for long hours. It seems quite natural that one might raise their finger-clasped hands above and behind their head occasionally not only to stretch and take in more oxygen but also to drop down as they take a deep inhale and maintaining a brief inhaled breath allow their thumbs to stimulate these two acupoints points for the price of one. One can easily extend the benefit of these points by massaging back and forth between these two points.

Note: this can be a very powerful experiential treatment.  Start out cautiously massaging no more the 4 or 5 seconds on each side and wait an hour or so before repeating.

Itchy, Severely Inflamed Eye

One of the common problems associated with aging is dry eyes. This can be complicated with an increased allergic sensitivity to airborne allergens. One randomized, placebo-controlled study showed that stimulation of GB 20 in dry-eye patients was significantly improved after 4-weeks of treatment.

I recently had a patient with a severe eye inflammation exhibiting symptoms of severe itchiness, redness, and swelling which caused him to go to his ophthalmologist for a remedy.

The ophthalmologist diagnosed it as inflammation caused by allergy and prescribed some exorbitantly expensive cortisone-based eye drops for relief. It was at this point that my patient sought alternative treatment. Because he would be traveling and it would not be convenient to make an herbal eyewash, I showed him how to massage GB 20.

This point worked like a charm, making it unfortunate that he had already spent nearly $200 for a tiny container of no more than a tablespoon of cortisone eyedrops which he never used. (Believe it or not, it was a cheaper brand from the original prescription which with even Medicare would have cost over $600!)

The first treatment priority was to allay the itching. Each time he felt an urge to rub his eyes he would massage GB 20 for 4 to 5 seconds as described. The itching completely stopped, lasting at first for an hour and after a few times, each time longer until the itching was completely gone.

References

  1. Shin MS, Kim JI, Lee MS, et al. Acupuncture for treating dry eye: a randomized placebo-controlled trial. Acta Ophthalmol. 2010 Dec;88(8):e328-33. doi: 10.1111/j.1755-3768.2010.02027.x. Epub 2010 Nov 10
  2. MS, Kim JI, Lee MS, et al. Acupuncture for treating dry eye: a randomized placebo-controlled trial. Acta Ophthalmol. 2010 Dec;88(8):e328-33. doi: 10.1111/j.1755-3768.2010.02027.x. Epub 2010 Nov 10.
  3. Takayama S, Seki T, Nakazawa T, et al. N. Short-term effects of acupuncture on open-angle glaucoma in retrobulbar circulation: additional therapy to standard medication. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2011;2011:157090. Epub 2011 Mar 7. PubMed PMID: 21437193

Wouldn’t it be nice if we all had a little spot on our head that we could tap to clear our mind of troublesome thoughts, fears, anxieties or mental garbage whenever we needed? Or how about another spot to foster higher consciousness?

In fact, such spots do exist.

These used to be part of a ritual that enlightened masters performed with and on their disciples as part of “opening the third eye.” The third eye is located on your forehead directly between your eyes. In yoga it is known as Ajna chakra, one of the most important points for concentration, and corresponds to the pineal gland.

In Chinese medicine it is an extra, non-meridian point called Yin Tang which translates as “Hall of Impression.” Acupuncturists commonly needle this point for calming the mind, allaying anxiety, nervous agitation, insomnia as well as treating sinus congestion and frontal headache. Taoist priests regard this as the “upper dan tian,” a shen or “spirit” point. It is used in various Taoist qi gong practices.

Increasingly over the last few years I have had to treat many patients suffering from acute anxiety syndromes. Whenever they’d come to see me in my clinic, I could needle this point and within 10 minutes they would always mention how they experienced a profound feeling of mental calm. This would last for various periods of time even after the needle was removed but unfortunately such chronic anxiety patterns such as PTSD often take a far longer time to resolve. I mean months and in some cases years.

Acupuncture isn’t always accessible when a patient is in crisis and needs immediate help, so I teach them to self-treat with the next best thing. I call it the “bindi bump.” Bindi in Sanskrit means “point,” “drop,” or “dot” and it is a red dot worn on the center of the forehead by Hindu women as well as enlightened Yoga masters. It is known as the “point of concealed wisdom” fostering inner knowing, intuition. Thus its more well-known name, “third eye.”  

You can experience its almost magical mind-calming qualities immediately.

Simply sit (or stand) in an attentive, quiet upright position.  Put your thumb, index and third fingers together using your dominant hand. Now tap firmly at the rate of 4 times per second for 10 to 20 seconds. Don’t be shy of allowing your fingernails to dig a bit, even leaving an impression – a self-generated ‘bindi’ – if necessary.

Remain still for a minute or two and check yourself and see if the chatter in your brain (called “monkey mind”) by Buddhists is not significantly reduced.

What you are experiencing is a mini-opening of the third eye. Practically speaking you have calmed your mind and spirit and you are free to continue on with your days activities just that much freer of the unnecessary worry, anxiety and fear that so often gets in the way.

To view a fun demonstration of me demonstrating the bindi bump go to https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZwxoMFNMnsY

Besides the Bindi-bump, I also found that doing the same procedure on Governor 20 (Bai Hui) which literally means “hundred meeting points.” In yoga, it is the seventh chakra called Sahasrara or crown chakra. Again this is another often used acupuncture point especially used for the shen (spirit), clear the senses, calm the spirit,  and lift the energy of the body upwards (it is actually used for treating hemorrhoids and any internal prolapsed organs). Stimulate this point by strongly tapping at the very top of your head in the center, focusing on the area where it is most sensitive. I call this “bumping Mt. Meru.” (footnote: Mt. Meru has come to be identified with enlightened, higher awareness. As such it is regarded as sacred in Hindu, Jain and Buddhist cosmology.)

Both of these practices can be performed whenever we need to present with as clear, calm mind as possible. It can be an effective adjunct in any clinical practice where one is treating psycho-emotional disorders or before going to sleep for treating insomnia, but it is also useful when engaging in creative work where our creative intuitive energy needs to be present. Of course, since discovering this technique which takes less than a minute to perform I always do it before meditation.

Last but not least for many of our ‘wounded warriors’ I strongly recommend this practice along with taking 30 drops of Albizzia Calm three or more times daily. The local, Santa Cruz, East West Free Herb Clinic has been able to greatly relieve even deep-seated, years-long PTSD with this simple practice and Albizzia, the extract of the flower and bark from the mimosa tree, known to the Chinese as “the Tree of Happiness.”

After trying it a few times, let’s hear back what your experience is.

 

Michael Tierra applies cups to a patient
with severe back pain at the East West Free
Clinic in Santa Cruz.

We have encountered many extreme acute chronic conditions among the homeless population that we’ve treated. The most common involve pain due to trauma or metabolic imbalance. Naturally enough, other common conditions perhaps just as prevalent are depression, anxiety and manic, bipolar disturbance.

Rheumatic and arthritic conditions are described in Traditional Chinese Medicine as Bi Zheng disease which includes a wide variety of back and joint pains. While diet and herbal therapy provide nutrients and healing at a deep level and ultimately provide the most lasting results, various physical therapies such as needling, bleeding, scraping, cupping, moxibustion and medicated oil massage  offer the most immediate relief.

This case was that of a homeless man, who had several laminectomies and possibly a disk fusion over a portion of his lower back in the area of L3 to L5. This man appeared to be in his late 30s and claimed to suffer from acute, disabling back pain for over 14 years. Laminectomy is a surgical procedure that removes a portion of the vertebral bone, called lamina. The muscles are pushed aside without cutting with the intention of leaving parts of the lamina intact. Disk fusions are performed when there is a problem with the disc space between the vertebrae causing painful pressure on the adjacent nerves.

I was not sure which of these or perhaps both procedures were performed on this man but it was obvious that he had at least three surgeries all in approximately the same area. Unfortunately he had no pain relief and more than likely a severe exacerbation of pain.

The man was married to a woman who loved and cared for him as best she could. Both lived on a small monthly disability and had temporary residence at the Santa Cruz Homeless Shelter. This is one of many cases where an individual suffering from such incapacitating health problems had little hope of being able to hold a job and better their living standard.

This man was taking and probably hooked on several severely addicting pain killers including oxycodone. Still, the pain throughout his body, especially his back, was constant and excruciating. He could barely move, let alone get on the table where we might try to relieve some of his suffering. With the assistance of three of us we finally got him lying face down. He was moaning and crying with every more. I palpated different areas of his back to determine where the pain was most severe and where the inflammation and blockage emanated. Again, he exhibited great sensitivity to pressure point palpitation.

I decided to use the most powerful method to relieve such conditions that I know: bleeding and cupping. Both are traditional ancient methods employed in many traditional cultures including Traditional Chinese Medicine dating back thousands of years.

Many people don’t realize that before the invention of small stainless steel needles, small sharp stones were used to extract a small amount of blood from precise areas of the body. Cupping used by creating a vacuum in a small cup applied to suck the skin and blood to the surface is used in diverse cultures ranging from throughout Asia, Greek and Central America. These were formerly considered folk traditions and are now part of the practice employed by some acupuncturists around the world.

I used small sterile diabetic needles, beginning with two points behind the knees called Weizhong or Bladder 40. These points treat lumbar pain and spasm of the lower back and extremities. They are powerfully anti-inflammatory and relieve pain. Translation of the name “weizhong” means “support the middle” because they also treat abdominal pain, vomiting and diarrhea. They are the most effective points for treating all lower back pains and for severe cases, they are most effective if they are caused to bleed. You may wonder if this was painful to this man. In fact his pain was so severe that he didn’t feel any of the quick tiny pricks which I then proceeded to do at particularly sensitive areas through his entire back, each time applying a cup and drawing out anywhere from a half to a teaspoon full of blood from each point.

After applying wan hua oil to the region, a special medicated oil to relieve pain and promote blood circulation, removing the blockage causing pain in the area, I pricked the two most painful areas near the areas where the surgery scars were evident and then applied two cups.

After 15 to 20 minutes I removed the cups, carefully wiping off the coagulated blood on the skin and inside each cup using as sterile measure as were available under the circumstances. This man’s pain was so severe, I considered this an emergency procedure. After removing the cups I lathered Ayurvedic Mahanarayana oil, the most powerful of all rejuvenative, anti-inflammatory and healing oils the world has ever known. “With a sesame seed oil base, this massage oil has some widely known homeopathic constituents like clove, camphor, turmeric, cow's milk, cedar bark, sandalwood, ginger and licorice. It also contains several historic Ayurvedic herbal tinctures known primarily in India, such as the herb blend dashmula, an asparagus extract called shatavari, the country mallow plant known as bala, and a mild sedative called tagar,” (http://www.wisegeekhealth.com/what-are-the-benefits-of-mahanarayan-oil.htm)  and these are about half of the total ingredients. This oil is available online. I use so much of it in my practice that I purchase a gallon at a time from Banyan Botanicals. http://www.banyanbotanicals.com/mahanarayan-oil/

After the cups were removed that man was reluctant to move and sit up for fear of experiencing the old pains he had before and during the process of getting on the table.

As you can see from the final picture, for the first time since our first encounter, the man was sitting up and specifically said “I feel good,” exclaiming that he hadn’t felt so much relief from pain in over 14 years of multiple and costly medical procedures and physical therapy.

I also prescribed an ancient traditional Chinese herbal formula for back and joint pains and both osteo- and rheumatoid arthritis called Du Huo Ji Sheng Pian (Wan) to be taken as pills three times daily. This formula contains up to 14 herbs and when taken over a period of weeks to 3 months is remarkably effective in treating back and joint pains especially of the lower body.

Among the powerfully anti-inflammatory, analgesic, blood-moving herbs in the formula are a species of angelica (Angelica pubescentis) and Loranthes, a particular species of mistletoe found growing on mulberry trees (do not use American mistletoe as it is toxic).

It is moments such as this that provide me with the most satisfaction and joy. 

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