Needling Acupuncture points: Du 20 increases blood flow to the brain, new research indicates

Acupuncture points: Du 20

Recent research from Japan shows that needling one of the acupuncture points Du 20 – Ba Hui (which is often translated into English as ‘One Hundred Meetings’), increases blood flow to the brain via the middle and anterior cerebral arteries (see link http://www.jcm.co.uk/research-archive/article/needling-du-20-increases-cerebral-blood-flow-1837/ ). This is of particular interest to acupuncturists as one of the actions of Du 20 according to acupuncture theory, is to help raise the qi of the body.

In acupuncture theory we understand that the qi (sometimes translated as the vital force of the body) travels with the blood. The relationship between qi and blood is inseparable, and blood can be regarded as a dense form of qi. “When qi moves, blood moves” – this quote from the acupuncture classical text the Su Wen describes how the qi makes the blood circulate efficiently.

Needling Du 20 increases blood flow to the brain

Therefore needling Du 20, the highest of the acupuncture points on the body and thus activating the qi at the top of the head where the point is found (see point location video) increases the blood flow to the brain. Acupuncturists often use this point alone, or in combination with other acupuncture points, to help raise the qi in the body – for example Du 20 is frequently used as a point in pregnancy if there is a threat of miscarriage (often in conjunction with Kidney 9 which helps prevent uterine cramping).

Many people will be familiar with Du 20 ‘Ba Hui’ through the practice of martial arts such as qigong, taichi or karate katas such as sanchin. Practitioners of these techniques imagine a silk thread pulling from the sky to Du 20, and then the down the through the spine to Ren 1 which ensures a good posture with a nice straight back. When this posture is aligned with breathing techniques it activates the circulation of qi between the ren and du channels increasing the martial artists’ power. The du meridian runs from the tip of the coccyx, up the spine to Du 20 at the top of the head and then over the midline of the head down the forehead and nose and ending on the gums in between the two front teeth. Acupuncture points all along this meridian are frequently needled for a variety of conditions.

Du is often translated as the ‘Governor Vessel’ and it is one of the 8 extraordinary meridians, the most basic channels of qi in the body (for a good explanation of these see John E. Pirog ‘The Practical Application of Meridian Style Acupuncture’). The Du meridian controls the yang forces of the body which in Chinese medical theory relate to consciousness and the senses. Points on the Du meridian are therefore often used in the treatment of headaches, dizziness and visual disorders as well as in helping to ‘lift the spirits’.