ST-36 足三里 — Zúsānlî or Leg Three Miles

St-36 is located on the lateral side (outside) of the lower leg, three cun (or one hands’ breadth) below the knee crease, and one finger’s breadth lateral to the tibial crest or shin bone.

St-36 is a powerful acupuncture point. Its name in pinyin is Zúsānlî, which translates as ‘Leg Three Miles’. Legend has it that it found its name by enabling ancient Chinese soldiers to go the extra three miles. Traditionally, Zúsānlî strengthens the legs, fortifies the whole body, tonifies Qi, Xue (blood) and Jinye (body fluids), and eliminates fatigue. Li may be interpreted within this context as a ‘mile’ or as a homonym for ‘to rectify‘. For this reason, Qin Cheng-Zu of the Song Dynasty declared Zúsānlî to be the ‘point of one hundred diseases‘.


  • Forbidden in Pregnancy from the 9th month.


  • He-Sea Point (where the Qi of the Stomach channel enters a deeper level to communicate with the Stomach Fu (organ). While Spleen Qi should have an upward movement and the ability to hold (Qi, Xue and Jinye), the Stomach exists in contrast to this and should have a downward motion. If this mechanism is out of balance, we may see symptoms of Qi, Xue and Jinye moving in the wrong direction; for example, nausea, vomiting, hiccups, belching, acid reflux, distension and pain of the abdomen, diarrhoea, indigestion, and more. According to Chapter 68 of the Nanjing (Classic of Difficulties) and Chapter 19 of the Huang Di NeiJing LingShu (Spiritual Pivot)He-Sea points are indicated in the treatment of counterflow or rebellious Stomach Qi and any disorder of the Stomach FuZúsānlî, therefore, is a potent tool for resolving these and other symptoms.
  • As an earth point on the Earth Stomach channel, Zúsānlî may be viewed philosophically as facilitating a balanced and meaningful relationship between Heaven (the fire element and the Heart) and Earth (the water element and the Kidneys)—essentially a bridge between our prenatal (constitutional) and postnatal states; for example, Heaven (above) and Earth (below) with us—Humanity—in the centre.
  • Sea Of Nourishment (Lower Point)—the Sea of Nourishment (Upper Point) is St-30 (Qì Chōng or Rushing Chong). Both are essential points on the fifth branch of Chong Mai, which is concerned with the postnatal function of Spleen Qi and Liver Blood.
  • Command (Gao Wu) Point of the upper and middle abdomen. Gao Wu, an author of the Ming Dynasty, included Zúsānlî among the ‘Four Command Points’ in his publication, The Glorious Anthology. 
  • Reflex Point
  • Tonifies Kidney YinZúsānlî is a powerful point to build Qi, Xue and Jinye. As a point of Chong Mai and the Stomach Channel, it is ideal for supporting and building Kidney Yin through its prenatal and postnatal connectivities.
  • In addition to tonifying Kidney Yin, when used on the left side (yin, xue), Zúsānlî focuses strongly on supporting Jinye.
  • According to Ma Dan-yang, a scholar and physician of the Jin Dynasty, Zúsānlî is listed as one of eleven Heavenly Star Points. An ode to these eleven ‘miraculous’ acupuncture points was published within the text of the Jade Dragon Manual in 1329. A twelfth point (Liv-3) was later added by Xu Feng, who gave the ode a new name: Song of the Twelve Points Shining Bright as the Starry Sky and Able to Heal All the Many Diseases. Luckily for us, they are now known simply as Ma Dan-Yang’s ‘Twelve Heavenly Star Points’.

    Within this context, the traditional functions of Zúsānlî are described as follows:
    flows/opens/unblocks the Heart and abdominal distention.
    effectively treats cold in the Stomach.
    borborygmus [gurgling and intestinal noises] and diarrhoea/loose stools.
    heaviness and soreness in the leg, shin and knee.
    damage from Shang Han [cold] attack [so severe the patient almost dies, and has likely been sick for a while] and damage from emaciation/starvation.
    all types of severe distention [drum-like/ turtleshell-like], including parasites.
    after 30 years old [this point] can be used to maintain health and vitality as seen through the shen in the eyes.
ST-36 足三里 — Zúsānlî or Leg Three Miles

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