The 13 Ghost Points:
The ancient Chinese frequently spoke of possession by demons and ghosts. Society viewed the realm of the living as only one plane of existence—one that ran parallel to that of the dead. Ghosts (or gui/ guei 鬼 ) were often attributed to the onset of conditions such as mania, paranoia, addiction, seizures, paralysis, lockjaw, headaches, nightmares, epilepsy and mental illness (Dian Cong). As a result, the people were concerned with appeasing the dead through worship and ritual to ensure that spirits did not negatively impact their daily lives. Around the 7th century, renowned Chinese physician Sun Si-Miao 孙思邈 (Tang Dynasty) shifted this idea of spiritual possession as a cause of disease to include that of a more physiological nature—the Chinese medicine concept of having an excess of Phlegm or Phlegm misting the heart. Excess Phlegm is said to be the result of long-standing emotional imbalance or trauma, weak Jing or Essence, poor diet, overwork, drug or alcohol abuse and numerous external pathogens—particularly an invasion of wind, heat, and dampness into the body. The 13 Ghost Points focused primarily on treating mental illnesses and neurological disorders within this context. Additionally, Sun Si-Miao understood these points to help cultivate one’s sense of self throughout one’s lifetime.
Traditionally, each of the 13 ghost points had a specific indication and could be combined to treat anxiety, dizziness and a feeling of overwhelm. However, these points were specifically indicated for treating more acute psychological disorders, including mania, bipolar disorder, hallucinations, schizophrenia, epilepsy, and more.
The ghost points are organised into the ‘Four Trinities’ and one extra point: a 13th point. The Four Trinities represent the progression of mania and the patient’s declining health as the ghost takes over.
The beginning of psychological dysfunction (phlegm blocking the orifices of the heart); wandering Shen.
- Guei Gong 鬼宮 – Central Palace of the Ghost – DU-26 (alternative names: Guei Ting (Ghost Court of Justice); Guei Ke Ting (Where the Ghost Invites Guests))
- Guei Xin 鬼信 – Ghost Purity / Ghost Faith – Lu-11
- Guei Lei 鬼壘 – Ghost Fortress / Ghost Heap / Eye of the Ghost – Sp-1
Wind has caused excess movement or paralysis, inflexible attitudes and/or no life direction.
- Guei Xin 鬼心 – Ghost Heart / Ghost Path to the Heart – Pc-7
- Guei Lu 鬼路 – Ghost Road / Pathway of the Ghost– Bl-62
- Guei Zhen 鬼枕 – Ghost Pillow – Du-16
Addiction; the patient is stuck using stimulants to get the fire going.
- Guei Chuang 鬼床 – Ghost Bed – St-6 (St-7)
- Guei Shi 鬼市 – Ghost Market – Ren-24
- Guei Ku 鬼窟 – Ghost Cave / Ghost Hideout – Pc-8
The ghost has taken over and the patient’s health demises.
- Guei Tang 鬼堂 – Ghost Hall – Du-23 (alternative names: Guei Gong (Ghost Hall); Shen Tang (Palace of the Spirits))
- Guei Cang 鬼藏 – Ghost Store / Ghost Preserve – Ren-1
- Guei Chen 鬼臣 – Ghost Leg – Co-11
- Guei Feng 鬼風 – Wind Ghost / Ghost Seal – MHN-37: HaiQuan (Sea Spring); (alternative point: MHN-3: YinTang (Hall of Impression))
The Song of The 13 Ghost Points
Reference to this specific grouping of acupuncture points first appeared as The Song of the 13 Ghost Points in Sun Si-Miao’s classical text, The Thousand Gold Prescriptions (Essential Formulas for Emergencies [Worth] a Thousand Pieces of Gold). The instructions for locating and needling these points were as follows:
When needling men, start from the left; when needling women, start from the right side of the body.
Our first point is Ren Zhong. It is also known as the Gui Gong. Approach the point from the left, but insert and remove from the right.
Beside the corner of our thumbnail is the second point which we know as Gui Xin. Needle this point to a depth of three Fen
The third meridian point is near to the nail of the large toe, it is known as the Gui Lei and we can needle it to a depth of two Fen.
The fourth meridian point is on the line at the base of the palm (transverse wrist crease). It is known as the Gui Xin and we can needle it to a depth of half a Cun.
The fifth meridian point is on the border of the white skin and it rests upon the foot Taiyang meridian (Bladder meridian). We should use a fire needle for seven quick pricks to a depth of 3 Fen.
The sixth meridian point is on the back above the Da Zhui point. It is one Cun into the hairline and is known as Gui Zhen. We should fire needle the point for seven quick pricks at a depth of three Fen,
The seventh meridian point is in front of the ear next to the hairline 5 Fen below the ear lobe. It is known as the Gui Chuang, and we fire needle it seven times to a depth of 3 Fen. (NB. In recent times, this point has been changed in location to the St-6 point)
The eighth meridian point is known as the Gui Shi. We approach the point from the left but insert the needle from the right.
The ninth meridian point is three Cun above the wrist crease between two tendons. It is known as Gui Ku.
The tenth meridian point is directly upwards from the line of the nose and 1 Cun into the hairline. It is known as Gui Tang, and we should fire needle it quickly seven times.
The eleventh meridian point is located on the join below the genitals. This point is near to the tip of the vagina for women and is called Gui Cang. We should burn three lots of moxa here for treatment.
The twelfth meridian point is where the horizontal line of Chi Ze meets the line of the white skin. This point is called Gui Chen, and we should fire needle it seven times quickly to a depth of 3 Fen.
The thirteenth meridian point is 1 Cun below the end of the tongue. It is situated in the centre of the seam beneath the tongue. This point is called Gui Feng.
In the case of points on both arms and legs, needle bilaterally. In the case of single points, simply needle the one point.
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