If you apply Extraordinary Vessels to your practice, efficacy will be increased significantly

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Underlying Theories of Acupuncture Treatment (23) Theories and application of eight extraordinary vessels

By Brandon SJ Oh, L.Ac.

▲ Extraordinary Vessels Explained by Eastern Medicine Classics

① The Creator created a watercourse and also prepared irrigation ditches for contingencies. Once water overflows the watercourse or irrigation ditches due to heavy rain, it is impossible to bring overflowed water back to the watercourse. It is like Qi overflowed from the Fifteen Collateral Vessels cannot be returned to Twelve Meridians.

The Twelve Meridians cannot control-Overflowed pathogens from Twelve Meridians. Only Extraordinary Vessels can take control of the pathogen.

② There are Extraordinary Pulse (奇脈) and Ordinary Pulse (常脈). The Twelve Meridians are Ordinary Pulse and Eight Extraordinary Vessels called Extraordinary Pulse because the Twelve Meridians do not govern the Eight Extraordinary Vessels.

③ Pathological states of the Eight Extraordinary Vessels cannot be started by itself. Mostly a pathological stage will be caused by overflowed pathogens from the Twelve Meridians. It is like overflowed water in a watercourse rush through to ditches that if a pulse is too strong, it would have trouble circulating the whole body and the stagnated pulse creates heat, pus, and pain.


▲ Eight Extraordinary Vessels and Twelve Meridians 

① In normal condition, blood and Qi move on meridians, but once the pathogen invades the blood and Qi overflow to the Eight Extraordinary Vessels. Therefore, the Meridians could control blood and Qi in Twelve Meridians, but once overflew blood and Qi from meridians cannot be taken care of by the Twelve Meridians.

② To control overflowed blood and qi only could be taken care of Eight Extraordinary Vessels and the Eight Extraordinary Vessels treat any Twelve Meridians’ abnormality. This is a basic idea of using Extra Ordinary Vessels to treat any pathogenic states of Twelve Meridians.

③ There is a theory that the Eight Extraordinary Vessels take control of the Twelve Meridians’ functions at junctions of Eight Extraordinary Vessels and the Twelve Meridians.

④ Most of the Eight Extraordinary Vessels are relatively big branches of the Twelve Meridians and take the role of a matched meridian’s auxiliary functions.


 ▲ Roles of Eight Extraordinary Vessels: 

① To control and manage all Twelve Meridian.

② Reflects pathological status of Twelve Meridians on related Eight Extraordinary Vessels.

③ There is no independent pathological symptoms in Eight Extraordinary Vessels. Any pathological symptoms that could be detected belong to paired or related meridian of the Eight Extraordinary Vessels.

④ Yin Link Vessel (陰維脈) is closely related to the Spleen, liver, and Conception Vessel. Any pathological symptom that could be seen on the Yin Link Vessel affects meridians and the organs closely related to the Yin Link Vessel. Pregnancy, delivery, menstruation, discharge are controlled by Thoroughfare Vessel (衝脈) and Conception Vessel. Any pathological symptoms of the Thoroughfare Vessel and the Conception Vessel could be detected on either the liver, spleen, heart, kidneys, and uterus or on its meridians.

⑤Governor Vessel, Belt Vessel, Yang Heel Vessel, and Yang Link Vessels are used to cure external symptoms, and the Conception Vessel, Thoroughfare Vessel, Yin Heel Vessel, and Yin Link vessels treat internal symptoms. 


▲ Understanding Eight Confluent Acupuncture Points

① Only the Conception Vessels and Governor Vessel have their acupuncture points. The other Extraordinary Vessels do not have their acupuncture points. Therefore, Extraordinary Vessels do not have their acupuncture points, making it hard to use the Extraordinary Vessels for treatment.

② Eight Confluent Acupuncture points were determined by co-relationship among the Twelve Meridians and Eight Extraordinary Vessels. They found the most effective Shu points that could control both Extraordinary Vessels and related meridians.

③ Eight Confluent Acupuncture points are important because they make it possible to use acupuncture points on a Twelve Meridians to directly control Extraordinary Vessels that do not have their acupuncture points.

④ Eight Confluent Acupuncture points

  • Pathogenic symptoms of Yang Linking Vessel (陽維脈): TE5 of the Hand Lessor Yang Triple Energizer Meridian.
  • Pathogenic symptoms of Yin Linking Vessel (陰維脈): PC6 of the Hand Reverting Yin Pericardia Meridian.
  • Pathogenic symptoms of Belt Vessel (帶脈): GB41 of the Foot Lessor Yang Gall Bladder Meridian.
  • Pathogenic symptoms of Thoroughfare Vessel (衝脈): SP4 of the Foot Greater Yin Spleen Meridian.
  • Pathogenic symptoms of Yin Heel Vessel (陰蹻脈): K6 of the Foot Lesser Yin Kidneys Meridian.
  • Pathogenic symptoms of Yang Heel Vessel (陽蹻脈): BL62 of the Foot Greater Yang Urinary Bladder.
  • Pathogenic symptoms of Governor Vessel (督脈): SI3 of the Hand Greater Yang Small Intestine Meridian.
  • Pathogenic symptoms of Conception Vessel (任脈): LU7 of the Hand Greater Yin Lung Meridian.


▲ How to Apply Eight Confluent Acupuncture Points


Primary Point – Sedate

Assisting Point – Tonify

Target Region

Thoroughfare Vessel (衝脈)

+ Yin Linking Vessel (陰維脈)



Stomach, heart, chest

Belt Vessel (帶脈)

+ Yang Linking Vessel (陽維脈)



Chest, diaphragm, lungs, throat

Governor Vessel (督脈) 

+ Yang Heel Vessel (陽蹻脈)



Inner eye corners, neck, eyes, and scapula area

Conception Vessel (任脈)

+ Yin Heel Vessel (陰蹻脈)



Outer eye corners, cheek, neck, back of ears, and shoulder





① Primary and assisting acupuncture points should be separated.

② Always follow the order to get the best treatment result.

③ In general, sedate primary points and tonify assisting point.

④ Always use both sides of acupuncture point of primary and assisting points. Needle insertion and removing must be paired with primary point with primary point and assisting point with the assisting point.




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