When East Meets West

I often find myself pondering on the little nuances of my practice. Those little subtleties that signal you to the next revelation or lead you onto another level of awareness.

My recent pondering takes me down both the reflexology and the acupuncture avenues and meets to bring another level or dimension to my understanding.

I have been using the Reflexology Lymph Drainage (RLD) technique a lot lately, and really focussing a lot of attention on this sequence; looking at the particular reflexes and how the areas of the body represented by these points actually function. One of the key points of the RLD sequence is the reflex point for the Subclavian Vein (SV). This point is on the dorsal of both feet and is situated exactly at the same acupoint Liver 3.

The SV is an important point for the RLD sequence, as this is where the lymphatic system, once finished cleaning and transporting lymph through the body, will return it back into the cardiovascular system i.e. the blood. This point gets used A LOT during the RLD sequence; after every sweep and general movement, we ask the body to deposit the lymph back to the cardiovascular system via the techniques of reflexology. It is gently stimulated a minimum of 18 times on each foot, plus additional linking at the end.

From an acupuncture point of view, this point is known as Liver 3. The energy of the Liver is to govern “spreading and draining”. By this we mean that it is responsible for maintaining the free flow of Qi (energy). Liver Qi can be restricted emotionally by anger, and physically by damp-heat. “When Liver Qi stagnates, it gives rise to sensations of pressure, distention and pain”. So these are the same symptoms that we are addressing in the RLD sequence; pressure and distention from oedema, and subsequent pain that this causes. Oedema is a “damp” symptom; fluid starts to stagnate and that is what is known as “damp”. If it stagnates for long enough it can start to warm up which is known as “damp-heat”.

On each acupuncture meridian, there is a principal or “source” point which is known as the most powerful point of that particular channel. Liver 3 is the source point for the Liver channel and it is the main point we would chose to promote free-flowing Qi. In addition, this point (or points if we are thinking bilaterally) combined with Large Intestine 4 (Li4) on the hands, make up the “four gates” which are used for the relief of pain. What is interesting to me is that Li4 is the exact same point we would use for the SV in RLD on the hands!

We might ask what this all means? It just consolidates for me that what we do from either angle, whether its from a western medical viewpoint or whether it is from a Traditional Chinese Medicine viewpoint, it all slots together. The two approaches fit neatly together side by side. They both make sense.

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