Acupuncture Points Notebook

Location Guides:

: Yaoyangguan : Lumbar Yang Gate

Du-3 : Extraordinary Governing Vessel 3

Master Tung's Three Rivers

On the midline of the lower back, in the depression below the spinous process of the fourth lumbar vertebra (L4).

Perpendicular insertion 0.5 - 1 cun

The spinal canal lies between 1.25 and 1.75 cun deep to the skin surface, varying according to body build.

TCM Actions:
Dispels wind-damp
Benefits the lumbar region and legs
Regulates the lower jiao

TCM Indications:
  • Inability to flex and extend the knee, pain of the outer aspect of the knee, wind painful obstruction with numbness, contraction of the sinews, inability to walk, pain of the crotch and lumbar region due to taxation injury.
  • Seminal emission, impotence, white turbidity, disorders of menstruation, leucorrhoea.

    Superficial Innervation: Medial branches of dorsal rami of L4
    Dermatome Segment: S3

    This point is also on the 3rd trajectory of the Chong mai connecting the Chong with the Du for Invigorating Yang in cases of Bi Obstruction due to Blood Stagnation (Yuen, 2005, The Extraordinary Vessels).


    Master Tung's Three Rivers (San Jiang) are three lines of points, one along the midline below each spinous process from L1 to S2 with the another two either side 3 cun lateral to the midline from L2 to S2. They are pricked to bleed a spot of blood.
    They relate to the water phase and Kidneys and are indicated for lumbar pain and conditions of the abdomen, bowels and uterus. Those 3 cun from the midline can also be used for sciatica and as distal points pain of arm, elbows or shoulders (McCann, 2014, Pricking the Vessels).


    Avicenna describes cupping at this point in his treatise On Cupping:

    "Cupping between the hips is beneficial for the hips, thighs, haemorrhoids, hydrocele, and gout." (Aspects of Treatment According to General Diseases, 22nd section in Abu-Asab, Amri & Micozzi, 2013, Avicenna's Medicine)


    In Tibetan medicine:
    Edelweiss flowers are burnt in cones like moxa over crushed garlic at this point as an intestine point point to treat small intestine tumours, chronic mucus and diarrhoea.

    The point at L3 is the large intestine point and used for tumours in the large intestine, flatulence, piles, urine retention and urine infection (Bradley, 2000: Principles of Tibetan Medicine)

    Reference Notes: (click to display)