Zusanli ST-36 Acupuncture Point

Zusanli ST-36

Chinese: 足三里

Pinyin: Zú Sān Lǐ

Location

3 cun below Dubi ST-35, one finger breadth lateral to the anterior crest of the tibia, on the tibialis anterior muscle. 

How to locate

Locate Dubi ST-35 in the depression below the patella and lateral to the patellar ligament. 

Then locate Zusanli ST-36 by measuring 3 cun downwards and one middle finger-breadth lateral to the anterior crest of the tibia. 

Main actions

  1. Tonifies Qi and Blood
  2. Tonifies the Stomach and Spleen
  3. Tonifies Nutritive Qi and regulates Defensive Qi
  4. Brightens the eyes
  5. Restores Yang and consciousness
  6. Expels Wind, Cold or Dampness
  7. Calms the Mind
  8. Removes Obstructions from the Channel

Needling

Vertically 1–1.5 cun. 

Commentary for Zusanli ST-36

Zusanli ST-36 is an extremely important point with various functions. 

First of all, it strongly tonifies the Qi and Blood by tonifying the Stomach and the Spleen, which are the root of Post-Heaven Qi. The Stomach receives and ripens the food, while the Spleen rules the transformation and transportation of food Essences (nutrition), Qi, and Body Fluids and their distribution to other Zang Organs. Therefore, this point is always used for Stomach or Spleen Qi Deficiency, after chronic diseases or with general fatigue or weakness. 

By tonifying the Stomach and the spleen, Zusanli ST-36 benefits the Original Qi (Yuan Qi), which is the Pre-Heaven Qi. The well-functioning Stomach and Spleen supplies sufficient Post-Heaven Qi to replace the loss of Pre-Heaven Qi which is originated from the Kidneys

Zusanli ST-36 also tonifies Nutritive Qi and regulates Defensive Qi when Exterior Wind-Cold attacks the body. This is considered the Great Yang Stage according to the Six Stage Theory. When Nutritive Qi is week and at the same time, Wind-Cold invades, it impairs the Defensive Qi circulation. Then the pores are open and the patient sweats slightly. The stronger Nutritive Qi is able to stop this sweating and the well-circled Defensive Qi can expel the pathogenic factors from the pores. 

Apart from being used for treatment, this point can also be applied to prevent Exterior Pathogenic Factors by enhancing the body's immune system, which is the Defensive Qi in TCM term. In this case, it is usually used together with Qihai REN-6. Direct moxibustion every 5-7 days for about 10 minutes each time is recommended. Also, this method is more recommended for patients over 30 years old with Qi Deficiency

When used with direct moxibustion and with Qihai REN-6 and Baihui DU-20, Zusanli ST-36 is able to lift Yang. Thus it treats symptoms such as Organ prolapses. 

When the Defensive Qi is weak in the space between the skin and muscles, Body Fluids overflows from the Channel and causes Oedema under the skin. ST-36 resolves Oedema by strengthening the Defensive Qi. 

Furthermore, this point can be used for all types of Stomach Deficiency patterns, characterized by epigastric pain or no appetite. It also regulates the Intestines, treating abdominal distension and pain as well as constipation of a Deficient nature. It moves Qi in these two Organs. 

It brightens the eyes and can be used for blurred vision and declining eyesight in old age. 

As discussed above, Zusanli ST-36 is mostly indicated for Deficiency patterns and applied with Tonifying or Even Needling Method. Despite of that, it is also able to remove Dampness or Cold from the Channel in Painful Obstruction Syndrome of the knee or wrist by using Reducing Needle Method. 

Finally, it calms the Mind by opening the Mind's orifices. Typical symptoms are manic depression, manic singing, raving as well as inappropriate laughter.