Why are acupuncture charts labeled differently with acupoints “mislabled” or inconsistent?

No, you are not imagining it. YES, there are acupuncture charts that label points differently. This happened to me several times while teaching acupressure self-help to my tai chi NJ students. I use a textbook that is used in Chinese and in American acupuncture schools (text translated into English). But I also have laminated acupoint charts at my school that my students like to own. For the most part – about 95%, the points are identical in both sources. But that 5% is enough to make you (as a teacher), or your charts, lose credibility. Alas! There is a reason for this – and in some sense, BOTH charts are correct.

As a teacher, I believe that it’s your duty to fully learn about what you teach and find answers for your students – even if you have to spend HOURS doing so (which I often do, unbeknownst to most of my students!). I have found the acupuncture chart problem in quite a few other printed books and online charts. There seems to be 2 “main versions” out there. I’ve spent hours searching this on the internet, chatting online with other acupuncturists, and so on. Some were not even aware of this issue until I pointed it out, and the ones who were aware of this concurred that indeed, the Chinese have re-numbered the meridian points (acupoints) a few times. This is mostly due to the fact that the Chinese did not originally number any of the points – in fact – each point was known by its “nickname.”

The Bladder acupuncture meridian is quite complex. And as such, has been subject to some re-numbering. For example, a point that is excellent to use for: motivation, being able to feel joy, let go of the past, and keep you committed to your projects and focus, is a point nicknamed “Hun Men.” This translated roughly into “Gate of the Ethereal Soul.” The Taoists believe that the “soul/spirit” of a person is composed of 2 characteristics – the “divine” spiritual side (hun) and the earthly energy of the soul (po). Po can kind of be thought of as the psychic charge left behind – more related to the person’s egos, desires, etc. Sort of like the kind of energy of a haunted house or something. But we’ll save this for a later discussion, as it gets quite metaphysically complex.

This bladder meridian point – hun men – is sometimes labeled as BL-47 (which is how I learned it), but other sources list it as BL-42. Nonetheless, if you know its nickname and location, it doesn’t matter what “number” you assign it. Just know that it’s located 3 cun (body inches) lateral to the inferior aspect of the spinous process of the T9 vertebra.

HERE is the best post I found about the inconsistencies of acupoint numbering:

Continue to scroll down their post to see more comments from people about this renumbering of acupoints.

And as I implied before, don’t get all hung up on the “correct number.” Just get the nickname of the point, learn how to locate it, and learn what it can be used for. ¬†After all, that’s the whole point of the acupoints!

If *you* have any other sources or info on this, PLEASE comment! I would love to present more clarification of this topic!

5 Responses to Why are acupuncture charts labeled differently with acupoints “mislabled” or inconsistent?
  1. Nan
    August 26, 2012 | 3:27 pm

    this is a great article. I didnt realize the numbers were different, I have noticed that plastic models have points in inaccurate places. Do you know where I can see picture with skeleton bones and the points? Verbal desriptions are good, but sometimes I cant understand them. Thanks!

  2. silver account
    September 16, 2012 | 5:15 pm

    There are approximately 360 acupuncture points in total on the human body. With so many tiny points to remember, one can easily be intimidated. As a matter of fact, for self -healing and caring purposes, we don’t have to memorize all these points. We only need to remember roughly 20 most used and effective points. If you need to use more points, just look for them using the meridian and acupuncture point charts. Each point has a unique and meaningful name, which gives some key information about this particular point, such as main function, usage, location, or other. In English, the English spelling of the Chinese names are directly used. For people who don’t understand Chinese, it is hard to comprehend the significance of each name and, therefore hard to remember all the foreign sounding names.The format of the international symbols for acupuncture points is fairly easy. Since most of the points belong to one specific meridian (Jing), it only makes sense that their symbols are associated with those meridians. You can take two abbreviation letters of that meridian’s name and number all the points along the way, from the starting point to the end point. For example: the name of the Xue-hai point means ‘the sea of blood’ in Chinese and can be used for blood-related issues. Its English symbol is SP10, because it belongs to the spleen meridian and is the 10thpoint from the start.

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  3. ted
    February 13, 2014 | 2:30 am

    Hello, I am wondering about the 8 luo points bladder 27 – 34. A lot of models show them being above the buttox while others showing them on the buttox – can anyone help me with this? I see images of the sacrum and the wholes, where these points are, only seem an inch or two appart, but when I go to have them needled they place them 3-4 inches apart. Any thoughts or advice will be helpful – thanks so much

    • InternalGardens
      April 3, 2015 | 7:58 pm

      Yes – there are a few acupoint charts that vary in their numbering. You can cross-reference the correct points by going by their old Chinese names instead.

  4. Chong
    June 27, 2016 | 10:09 pm

    Yes, when I first learn I notice it as I constantly having problem left or right like lu5, Lv14.

    This is humiliation.

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