here is another in Sara Calabro’s occasional series on acupuncture points. In this excellent article she explains the reason I use ‘Four Gates’ so often.
Liver 3 and Large Intestine 4 are often used together. Each point is done on both sides of the body, creating a four-point combination known as Four Gates. This is one of the most frequently used point combinations in all of acupuncture.
There are many theories associated with Four Gates but the prevailing idea is that the combination opens up circulation throughout the entire body. Liver 3 handles the lower half while Large Intestine 4 addresses the upper. Together, they pack a powerful punch.
Four Gates usually tackles symptoms caused by stagnation. This includes pain as well as menstrual irregularities, constipation, or feelings of frustration—basically anything that suggests things aren’t flowing as smoothly as they should be.
Liver 3 Gets Things Moving
Liver 3—also known as Taichong (Chinese name), Great Rushing (English translation) and LV3 (acupuncturist lingo)—is located on the foot, between the first and second toes.
Liver 3 is what’s known as a source point. Every meridian has one. Source points behave sort of like central stations on subway lines. They are hubs where internal and external energies gather and transform. They are single, high-concentration points that grant access to the larger system.
Because Liver 3 has such far-reaching effects, it is indicated for a very wide variety of conditions. John Pirog, in The Practical Application of Meridian Style Acupuncture, says Liver 3 is “probably the most important point for stagnation of the inner body.”
Liver 3 is used for menstrual cramps, headaches, vision problems, coastal-region pain and shortness of breath, low back pain, insomnia, and more. The list truly goes on and on. Feeling stuck? Hello, Liver 3. This point gets things moving.
Liver 3’s extensive effects are palpable. Needling it usually causes a strong achy sensation, either locally at the site of insertion, throughout the entire foot, or sometimes even up into the leg along the Liver meridian.
If you’ve had acupuncture, you’ve probably had Liver 3. If you haven’t yet, consider it inevitable.
Large Intestine 4 Is a Great Bang for Your Buck
Large Intestine 4—also known as Hegu (Chinese name), Joining Valley (English Translation) and LI4 (acupunk lingo)—is located on the hand, in the web between the thumb and index finger.
Large Intestine 4, like Liver 3, is a fantastic bang for your buck. If you think about the location, between the first and second fingers, it’s basically the upper-body version of Liver 3, which is located between the first and second “fingers” on the lower body.
Large Intestine 4 is a source point as well. It is indicated for a wide variety of conditions and also tends to cause a strong needling sensation.
Probably the best-known use of Large Intestine 4 is to release the exterior. This refers to treating what are known as Wind conditions—chills and fever, runny nose, headaches, stiff upper back and neck, too much or too little sweating, sore throat, dizziness, etc. Large Intestine 4 is the go-to point for these types of symptoms. It is thought to disperse the Wind and also bolster the body’s defenses against recurrence.
Other common indications for Large Intestine 4 include toothache, sinusitis, rhinitis, nosebleeds and Bell’s Palsy. This is because the Large Intestine meridian travels up to the face, so almost any symptom related to that region calls for the point.
In addition to these common uses, Large Intestine 4 is used in treatments for everything from constipation to skin disease to low back pain.