Seattle Acupuncture- The Gallbladder Meridian

The gall bladder in Chinese medicine has some similarities to the gall bladder in western medicine. It’s job is to store and excrete bile. Bile is used in the small intestine to help digest fats in our food. Where Chinese medicine differs is the intimate relationship the gall bladder has with the liver and the heart. The liver is in charge of moving our Qi throughout the body. In other words, the energy in our body that keeps us healthy and nourished is governed by the liver. When we are overly emotional or stressed, the liver becomes unbalanced and our Qi stagnates. The gall bladder has very similar functions to the liver. It’s Qi helps keep the liver moving smoothly. And vice versa, the liver Qi helps keep the gall bladder in balance and helps it excrete bile smoothly. Another similar function the gall bladder has with the liver is nourishing the sinews. The liver supplies the blood to nourish our sinews while the gall bladder supplies the Qi to nourish our sinews. Sinews are a piece of fibrous tissue that connect muscle to bone or bone to bone. The sinew meeting point, the acupuncture point that connects all the sinews, is on the gall bladder channel (GB-34).

Another important function of the gall bladder is its mental influence. The gall bladder is in charge of our decisiveness, our capacity to make decisions. The gall bladder gives us the courage to make change and to move forward. It also influences our mental decisiveness which is the relationship it has with the heart (because the heart controls the mind). In five element theory, the gall bladder is wood, the heart is fire and wood controls fire. This shows the interrelationship between the decisiveness of the gall bladder and the mental influence of the mind.

The last function of the gall bladder is its influence on our ability to sleep. The gall bladder helps a person sleep long and have a good quality of sleep. If the gall bladder is deficient then a person will wake up early in the morning and be unable to fall asleep again.

The gall bladder meridian has 44 points and they are all over the place. The gall bladder meridian is a good representation of how indecisive the gall bladder can be. The meridian starts on the outside corner of the eye, moves up the ear, around the ear, goes back around towards the front of the head, goes down the middle of the head to connect with the trapezius muscle, zig zags around the side of the ribs, goes down the outside of the leg and ends at the corner of the fourth toe. The gall bladder meridian is also called the Foot Shao Yang Meridian and it’s paired meridian, the Hand Shao Yang, is the San Jiao Meridian. This shows an interrelationship between the nourishing functions of the San Jiao (the lymphatic system) and the nourishing functions of the gall bladder on the sinews. The gall bladder is a yang organ and its pair yin organ is the liver. The relationship between the gallbladder and the liver was already stated above. The gall bladder is the element of wood and its time is between 11pm-1am. Below are the most common used points on the gall bladder meridian.

GB-8- this point is used sometimes for headaches.

GB-12- this point is also used for headaches or sometimes to help unclog the ears or sinuses.

GB-14- a common point used to help relieve sinus pressure.

GB-20-a very common point used for headaches in the back of the head, back pain, tight muscles or to help balance the gall bladder.

GB-21- a very common point used to help with tight trapezius muscles.

GB-30- the most commonly used point for sciatica.

GB-34- the meeting point of the sinews. This point is usually paired with San Jiao 5 to create the “female four gates.” This point combination helps to move stagnated Qi.

GB-41- this is one of my personal favorite points. This point is used in balancing the gall bladder and moving Qi. It is a very strongly felt point when used and patients usually feel very calm soon after the needle has been placed there.

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Ben Dorfman, E.A.M.P.

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