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Everything You’ve Ever Wanted To Know About Using Acupuncture Points To Clear Heat

Exposure to excessive heat can cause medical conditions such as heat stroke and heat syncope. The burning heat of summer is the most common cause of heat-related illness. In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), pathogenic summer-heat is the major cause of heat-related illnesses. As summer progresses, the heat becomes too much for normal body function to expel, hence the accumulation of heat in the body that manifests as an illness. Acupuncture uses clear heat acupuncture points to release excess heat in the body and maintain the proper balance needed to keep you healthy.

What Is Heat In TCM?

In TCM, heat is the term used to diagnose illnesses caused by a summer-heat pathogen. The implication of this is that you’ll mostly have “heat” during summer, especially as summer progresses towards fall when the sun burns at its hottest. If you spend too much time outside during summer, probably undertaking long road trips or doing physical labor, you are prone to heat illnesses like heat stroke.

Summer-heat isn’t the only cause of heat, however. In TCM, there is such a term as Full Heat, which is more encompassing. This term is used synonymously with Wind-Heat and is caused by external pathogenic factors like summer heat, as well as by emotional stress and diet. Some of the symptoms of wind-heat or full heat include sweating, feeling of hotness, headache, fever, dry eyes, and red face.

What Are The Causes Of Heat?

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio

From a more general outlook of heat in TCM, the following are the causes of heat.

  • External Pathogenic Factor That Penetrates Into the Interior: In TCM, there are six environmental factors that can interact with the body to cause imbalance and contribute to illnesses. They are pathogenic wind, pathogenic cold, pathogenic summer-heat, pathogenic dampness, pathogenic dryness, and pathogenic heat (fire). When an external pathogenic factor penetrates into the interior and is not expelled at the exterior stage, there is a high tendency for it to turn to heat. Hence, even wind-cold, one of the variants of pathogenic wind, can turn to heat if not expelled into the exterior. However, of these six environmental factors, summer-heat and a variant of wind, wind-heat, are the major causes of heat.
  • Emotional Stress: In TCM, emotions cause either Qi stagnation or Qi deficiency. Emotions that cause Qi stagnation include worry, anger, fear, and shame, while those that cause Qi deficiency include grief and sadness. When these emotions that cause Qi stagnation last for weeks, it grows into heat.
  • Diet: When your food includes spices like ginger, chili, and cumin, they could lead to heat. In TCM, meats, especially beef and mutton, are considered hot. Therefore, excessive consumption of them could cause heat. There are also alcoholic drinks like vodka and wine that add heat to your diet.

How To Reduce Body Heat By Acupressure?

The way to reduce body heat by acupressure is by stimulating the acupressure points to cool the body. Traditional medicine is all about maintaining balance. To stay healthy, your body needs to maintain a balance of hot and cold. When the weather is hot, your body tends to open up your pores to expel heat in the form of sweat. But when the weather is excessively hot, your pores become overburdened, thus disrupting the temperature balance of your body.

A 2021 research analyzing the hot and cold properties of Traditional Chinese Medicine uncovered that in China medicine, hot properties are used to treat cold syndrome while cold properties are used to treat the hot syndrome. Therefore, the cooling points on the body, which are discussed in this article, are used to reduce heat.

How Long Does It Take To Clear Heat In Acupuncture?

The first step to treatment in both modern and traditional medicine is diagnosis. The major means of diagnosing full heat is through observing the tongue and checking the pulse, even though general clinical manifestations like the feeling of heat, thirst, red face, dry stool, and dark urine are there as a guide. One suffering from “heat” would have a rapid full pulse, and the tongue will be red with a yellow coating.

These symptoms will differ based on the organ affected. For example, Lung-heat will involve cough and slight breathlessness, while Stomach-heat will include thirst, excessive hunger, and acid reflux. The length of time it will take to clear heat when you go for acupuncture treatment is a few weeks, which consists of one or two acupuncture sessions.

However, with clear heat acupuncture points, you can get instant relief from some of the symptoms of heat.

What Are The Acupressure Points For Clearing Heat?

As explained earlier, acupuncture heat in the body is cleared by cool pressure points. Below are seven (7) of these pressure points for clearing heat.

Acupoint: SI-5 (Other Names: Small Intestine-5/Yang Gu/Yang Valley)

SI-5 is the first clear heat acupuncture point. It is known as Yanggu in Chinese, which translates to  Yang Valley in English. This small intestine meridian acupoint is a hand acupuncture point. You’ll find it on the outer part of the hand, in the depression where the pinky finger intersects with the wrist, around the protruding bone of the rest.

In Traditional Chinese Medicine, Yanggu is responsible for clearing heat, clearing the small intestine meridian, and reducing swelling. Massaging this acupoint will help move heat from the interior to the outside of the body, and since it is related to the blood vessels, it also stabilizes palpitation when the weather is hot.

Based on these functions, as well as its location, SI-5 is clinically used to treat neck pain, wrist pain, and febrile diseases. It is also part of the acupressure points for shoulder and arm nerve pain.

Acupoint: HT-5 (Other Names: Heart-5/Tong Li/Inward Connection)

The next acupuncture point to release heat is HT-5. Being one of the heart meridian points, it is not surprising to have HT-5 as one of the acupuncture points to clear heat in the body as the heart is one of the organs affected by heat. HT-5 is called Tongli in Chinese and is located on the hand. You’ll also find HT-5 along the line of the pink finger, but on the palm side, a thumb width from the wrist crease.

In Traditional Chinese Medicine, the function of HT-5 is to regulate the heartbeat, calm the Shen, and benefit the tongue. It helps to bring you back to vitality when heat stroke dulls your head and weakens your judgment. Also, because HT-5 tonifies the Heart Qi, it is effective in treating chronic diseases.

Clinically, HT-5 is used to treat palpitations, wrist and arm pain, and sudden loss of voice.

Acupoint: TE-17 (Other Names: Triple Energizer-17/Yi Feng/Wind Screen)

TE-17 or Yifeng is a Triple Energizer acupoint that serves as acupuncture to dispel heat from the body. This acupoint is located on the head. You’ll find it at the back of the earlobe, in the depression between the bulging bone at the back of the ear, and the angle of the jaw bone.

In Chinese Herbal Medicine, TE-17 helps to disperse wind, clear the channel, and improve hearing and vision. Hence, it is ideal for the treatment of tinnitus, toothache, locked jaw, and facial paralysis. You may also want to try the popular small intestine 18.

However, because Yifeng is located at the gathering point of blood vessels and lymph lines, it is important to push gently.

Acupoint: GV-14 (Other Names: The Governing Vessel-14/Da Zhui/Great Vertebra)

The next clear heat acupuncture point is GV-14. This Governing Vessel acupoint is called Dazhui in Chinese, which means Big Vertebrae. This makes the acupoint obvious. Just as the name suggests, you’ll find GV-14 below the great vertebrae or the bone that bulges when you tilt your neck forward.

In Traditional Chinese Medicine, Dazhui is responsible for adjusting the autonomic nerves as it is the gathering place of thick blood vessels. Because of this, it is best to massage this acupoint with a PET bottle of cold water. Doing this will help open the yang and exterior, clear the brain, and calm the spirit.

Clinically, GV-14 is used to treat illnesses like malaria, febrile disease, diseases of the blood, psychosis, and pneumonia, in addition to clearing fever and heat in the lungs. It is also one of the acupressure points for cold.

Acupoint: KD-7 (Other Names: Kidney-7/Fu Liu/Returning Current)

KD-7 also serves as acupuncture for heat exhaustion. Known as Fuliu in Chinese, which translates to Returning Current, KD-7 is located on the lower leg. You’ll find it two thumb-width above KD-3, which is directly behind the ankle bone.

As a kidney meridian acupoint, KD-7 is responsible for improving the function of the kidney and regulating sweating. It is also responsible for resolving dampness and strengthening the lower back. Based on these functions and its location, KD-7 serves as acupuncture for Achilles tendonitis and is used to treat night sweating, edema, abdominal distention, diarrhea, weakness, and pain in the lower extremities.

Acupoint: GB-20 (Other Names: Gallbladder-20/Feng Chi/Wind Pool)

GB-20 is another of the clear heat acupuncture points that you should know about. In Chinese Medicine, it is called Fengchi, which translates to Wind Pool. This gall bladder meridian acupoint is located on the head. To locate it, trace your fingers to the back of your head, to the depression on both sides of the head where the neck joins with the skull, slightly above the end of your hairline.

Just as the name suggests, Wind Pool is the major acupuncture point for clearing wind – internal wind and external wind. It also clears heat, subdues the Liver Yang, clears the head, brings harmony to Qi, and Blood, and aids hearing and vision. GB-20 is the foremost acupoint to treat any disease related to wind-cold or wind-heat.

Based on these functions, GB-20 is the ideal acupoint for treating headaches, swollen eyes, painful eyes, stiffness of the neck, dizziness, back and shoulder pain, and the common cold. It is also effective as acupuncture for hair thinning.

Acupoint: M-LE-8 (Other Names: Ba Feng/Eight Winds)

M-LE-8, also used in some texts as EX-LE10, is an extra acupuncture point that is also effective as acupuncture for heat in the body. In Chinese medicine, M-LE-8 is called Bafeng, which means Eight Winds in English. The name is derived from the acupoint’s location. You’ll find Bafeng at the four webs of the intersection of the five toes on both legs, making eight webs in all for both legs.

In TCM, the function of Bafeng is to clear heat and reduce swelling. It is based on this function that this M-LE-8 is used to treat numbness and pain of the foot, beriberi, irregular menstruation, headache, toothache, and even malaria. It also forms part of the acupressure points for cold hands and feet.

Conclusion

Heat is a term used in TCM to refer to heat-related illnesses. Mostly, these illnesses, such as heat stroke and heat syncope, are caused by the excessive heat of summer. But on a more general note, heat in TCM can be caused by external environmental factors like summer-heat pathogen and wind-heat, emotional stress, and diet. To clear heat easily, you need:

  • Acupoint SI-5 helps to clear heat and reduce swelling;
  • Acupoint HT-5 helps to regulate the heartbeat and benefits the tongue;
  • Acupoint TE-17 disperses wind and improves hearing and vision;
  • Acupoint GV-14 adjusts the autonomic nerves to open the Yang, clear the brain, and calm the spirit;
  • Acupoint KD-7 helps to improve kidney function and regulate sweating;
  • Acupoint GB-20 that clears both internal and external wind and harmonizes Qi and Blood; and
  • Acupoint M-LE-8 clears heat, reduces swelling, and stops numbness. Clear heat acupuncture points.

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