Acupuncture is part of a medical system that dates back nearly 3,500 years. This medical system is known as Traditional Chinese Medicine or TCM. TCM acknowledges not four but five seasons. The fifth season, Indian Summer, occurs in late August through mid-September. Each season in TCM has a pair of organs or energetic pathways it corresponds to. For Indian Summer, these pathways are those of the spleen and stomach.
The spleen and stomach are directly responsible for digestion. The spleen also has the added function of transporting and absorbing water in the body. When the spleen is not functioning properly, the body may suffer from a buildup of dampness. This can manifest as edema, digestive issues and even brain fog. Many people who have impaired spleen function also suffer from diabetes.
To keep the spleen and stomach functioning properly within the TCM system, things like acupuncture, herbal formulas, nutritional counseling and practices like qi gong or tai chi may need to be incorporated. There are over 350 acupuncture points on the body, but there are some that work exceptionally well during Indian Summer to help with digestion and fluid transport.
1. Spleen 9 – This point is located bilaterally on the inside of the lower leg. It can be found by locating the tibia, following it up the leg to the knee and then feeling for the depression behind and below the lower edge of the tibia. This acupuncture point is a wonderful point to use to help drain edema and decrease abdominal pain, bloating and diarrhea.
2. Stomach 25 – This point is located bilaterally on the lower abdomen. It can be found about 2 finger-breadths laterally away from the middle of the belly button and completely level with it. This point is part of a group known as the four doors. Stomach 25 is used to treat abdominal pain, bloating, constipation, diarrhea and edema.
3. Ren 6 – This point is located on the midline of the abdomen, about one and a half thumb-breadths directly below the belly button. This is another point that is part of the four doors grouping. Ren 6 can be used to help with abdominal pain, edema, diarrhea, constipation and menstrual problems.
4. Ren 12 – This point is located on the midline of the abdomen, about four thumb-breadths directly above the belly button. This is the final point that completes the four doors grouping. Just like its counterparts, Ren 12 can help with bloating, abdominal pain and diarrhea. It is also used to treat stomachaches, acid reflux, vomiting and diarrhea.
5. Spleen 6 – This point is located bilaterally on the inside of the lower leg. It is found three thumb-breadths above the medial ankle bone and just behind the tibia. Spleen 6 is frequently used by acupuncturists. It helps with abdominal pain and bloating, diarrhea, menstrual problems, urinary leakage, edema, dizziness, vertigo and insomnia.
Any of these points can be used alone or in conjunction with others. They can be manually stimulated using pressure from a finger or dull, rounded tool. But for best effects, it is recommended acupuncture be applied.
Rebecca M H Kitzerow is a Licensed Acupuncturist practicing in La Center, Washington. With over a decade of experience she has won 10 Nattie consumer choice awards from Natural Awakenings Magazine since 2014.