Acupuncture for Abdominal Pain - Treatment Protocols

General Approaches

Acupuncture For Abdominal Pain - Treatment Protocols

Acupuncture treatment protocols are generally directed towards the deeper root of a persons set of health issues, not at each individual issue. In Traditional Chinese Medicine, treatment is generally directed towards the individuals diagnostic pattern(s) and their primary issue is only a part of the information required to approach the correct patterns to treat (see "treating the cause vs. the symptoms" for an introduction to this process.).

In designing an acupuncture protocol for abdominal pain, one might find one or a combination of the following patterns: blood stagnation, liver qi stagnation, spleen and stomach damp heat, spleen yang deficiency, stomach food stagnation among many other possibilities and possible combinations.

Below you will find some of the more common tcm diagnoses and acupuncture treatment protocols for abdominal pain. There are many ways to approach the treatment of this condition within TCM. Our presentation describes foundational approaches that would need to be further tailored in most cases to be effective for a given individual.

  • Etiology & Pathology:
    • Xinnong (CAM) Differentiations:
    • Maciocia Differentiations:
    • Differentiation:
      • Direct Strike of Cold to the Intestines (Maciocia Cold)
        • Signs & Symptoms:
          • Sudden onset, lower abdominal pain, patient feels cold, chills, diarrhea
          • Tongue: White coat
          • Pulse: Deep, tight & slow (with dehydration the pulse may appear fast, but it is still a cold pathology)
        • Treatment Points:
          • Xinnong (CAM) Point Selection:
          • CV 12 - ST Mu
          • CV 8 - w/salt moxa, warms lower jiao
          • ST 36 - tonify ST/SP
          • SP 4 - clear ST excess
          • Maciocia Point Selection:
          • ST 25 - warm lower jiao
          • SP 15 - warm lower jiao, esp. w/constipation
          • ST 27 - warm lower jiao
          • CV 10 - direct ST Qi downwards
          • SP 6 - tonify ST/SP
          • ST 36 - tonify ST/SP
          • Valaskatgis Point Selection:
          • ST 25 - warm lower jiao
          • ST 37 - reinforce ST 25
          • ST 27 - warm lower jiao
          • CV 6 - tonify Qi
          • SP 4 - clear ST excess
          • SP 6 - tonify ST/SP
      • Retention of Food
        • Signs & Symptoms:
          • Constipation, abdominal fullness, burping, flatulence.
          • Tongue: Thick, greasy coat
          • Pulse: Slippery (indicates retention of food esp. w/thicker coat)
        • Treatment Points:
          • Xinnong (CAM) Point Selection:
          • CV 12 - ST Mu
          • ST 25 - LI Mu
          • CV 6 - moves food/Qi in the lower abdomen
          • ST 44 - moves the stools (may not be necessary)
          • Maciocia Point Selection:
          • CV 10 - move food/Qi downwards
          • CV 6 - move Qi in the lower abdomen
          • SP 15 - constipation
          • SP 16 - ST 25 possibly better
          • ST 27 - pain in the lower abdomen
          • TH 8 - regulate the TH and promote bowel movements (not commonly used, TH 6 for heat w/excess is more commonly used)
          • ST 36 - tonify ST/SP
          • UB 25 - LI Shu
          • UB 27 - SI Shu
      • SP Yang Deficiency
      • Retention of Food
        • Signs & Symptoms:
          • May effect either the ST or the intestines.
          • Can be acute or chronic, depending on dietary habits.
          • Usually from overconsumption of food, overeating when tired a/or contaminated food.
          • Persistient pain that is constant or colic-like, worse with pressure and eating, fullness and discomfort in the epigastric area, nausea, foul belching, vomiting of undigested food.
          • LI symptoms - constipation a/or flatulence.
          • No desire to eat.
          • Tongue: Thick, greasy coat
          • Pulse: Full, slippery (which can indicate, phlegm, damp a/or pregnancy as well as stagnation of food)
        • Treatment Principle:
          • Resolve food stagnation.
          • Promote digestion.
        • Treatment Points:
          • Valaskatgis Point Selection:
          • CV 10 - direct Qi downwards
          • LV 13 - SP Mu, moves stuck food in the epigastric area
          • ST 36 - regulates ST Qi, tonifies Qi, can disperse excess above, descends the ST Qi
          • ST 44 - cools heat in the ST and conducts Qi downwards
          • LI 10 - arm equivalent of ST 36
          • Maciocia Point Selection:
          • CV 13 - useful w/vomiting a/or nausea
          • CV 10 - directs Qi downwards
          • ST 21 - excesses in the epigastric area, reinforces Cv 12
          • ST 20
          • ST 44
          • ST 45 - ST fire, possibly effecting the mind (may not be necessary)
          • ST 25 - LI Mu, epigastric pain, constipation
          • SP 4 & PC 6 - Yin Wei Chong Mai, move excesses in the epigastric area
      • Damp Heat (common clinically)
        • Signs & Symptoms:
          • Chron's Disease, IBS patients may have damp heat in the LI.
          • Lower abdominal pain, loose, urgent stools w/strong odor, possibly with mucus a/or blood, burning anus.
          • Tongue: Greasy, yellow coat
          • Pulse: Slippery, fast
        • Treatment Principle:
          • Clear Heat in the Intestines.
          • Resolve dampness.
        • Treatment Points:
      • Stagnant Qi
        • Signs & Symptoms:
          • Result of the LV invading the SP
          • Pain that is directly related to emotions, moodiness, irritability, belching, flatulence, borborygmus, lower abdominal bloating, alternating constipation and diarrhea
          • Tongue: Normal or slightly purplish
          • Pulse: Wiry
        • Treatment Principle:
          • Regulate the Intestines.
          • Tonify SP.
          • Move Qi in lower abdomen
        • Treatment Points:
      • Stagnant Blood
        • Signs & Symptoms:
          • Masses in the lower abdomen, dark complexion, dark stools possibly w/blood.
          • Tongue: Purple
          • Pulse: Deep, choppy or firm
        • Treatment Principle:
          • Move Qi/Blood in Lower Abdomen.
        • Treatment Points:

The information on our site is drawn from our own lecture notes and clinical experience. The following lecture notes were consulted within this section:

  • St. John, Meredith: New England School of Acupuncture, Etiology and Pathology Lecture Notes
  • Valaskatgis, Peter: New England School of Acupuncture, Etiology and Pathology Lecture Notes

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