By Tom Kennedy
The acupuncture point Yin Tang is very commonly used in clinical practice, and is often included in treatments for anxiety, insomnia, frontal headache and nasal obstruction. Interestingly, Yin Tang isn’t generally considered to be a Governing (Du) Vessel point, although it lies on the channel pathway – therefore it is classified as one of the ‘extra’ points. It’s also interesting to note that it lies in the area known as the ‘third eye‘ in various traditional cultures, and it also corresponds to the ‘upper dantian‘ in some qigong traditions.
In this article, I’ll make a few personal observations about the point from my own experience, followed by the full text from the Yin Tang section of A Manual of Acupuncture.
Research into acupuncture point Yin Tang
A Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI) study from China in 2012 found that electroacupuncture at acupuncture points Yintang and Baihui DU-20 produced lasting effects on brain activity. Both increases and decreases in activity were observed in various regions of the brain. It’s interesting that these changes were more pronounced 15 minutes after the needles were removed than at 5 minutes. I’ve certainly had many reports from patients that various effects seem to unfold or intensify some time after the treatment itself ends.
The acupuncture point Yin Tang – clinical experience
I use Yin Tang frequently in my clinic, and considering the above, I’ve noted with fascination that several patients have reported mildly ‘transcendent’ experiences when this point is needled. On a number of occasions, people have reported seeing strange or enhanced colours, falling into a particularly deep meditative state, or even feeling as if they’re floating! Certainly, quite a few longer-term patients say it’s one of their favourite points.
I use it most commonly when the treatment principle includes ‘calming the mind’ or ‘shen’ – this is perhaps what it’s most famous for. I like to aim for simple, coherent treatments, and for that reason often try to use channels and points that are paired. For example, for a Kidney deficiency type of anxiety, I might select points from Shaoyin (Kidney and Heart channels), and their internally/externally paired channels (Bladder and Small Intestine) where appropriate (you can read more about these pairings in the ‘Channels and Collaterals’ section of A Manual of Acupuncture). But because Yin Tang is considered an ‘Extra’ point, I’m happy to add it to any point combination without the feeling that I’m ‘muddying the waters’.
Yin Tang is also a nice point for self-treatment with acupressure. It’s very easy to press or gently rub, or can even simply be used as a focal point during mindfulness meditation or ‘body scan‘ relaxation methods. For example, try sitting quietly for a few minutes with your eyes closed, taking a few slow, deep breaths, and bringing your attention to Yin Tang. Allow the area to relax, and you’ll find that any tension in the scalp will also quickly disperse.
One thing to consider if you’re a newly-qualified acupuncturist, is that this point does have a tendency to bleed more than some, especially in patterns involving Liver Yang/Liver Fire. This can be a useful point in these situations to help calm the mind (which will often be unsettled in these patients), but be aware that you or the patient may need to hold a sterile cotton wool ball on the point with some pressure after the needle is removed for a minute or two.
Yin Tang point location and needling video (taken from A Manual of Acupuncture digital products)
Yin Tang: excerpt from A Manual of Acupuncture
The following text is taken from the Yin Tang section of A Manual of Acupuncture, by Peter Deadman and Mazin Al-Khfaji with Kevin Baker. A Manual of Acupuncture is the primary acupuncture point resource used in colleges and universities throughout the world, and contains extensive information on all the acupuncture points and channels. The full text includes point classifications, Chinese calligraphy, detailed location and needling instructions, point actions and indications, a summary of clinical application, and point combinations.
A Manual of Acupuncture is now available in digital form – via iOS/Android apps, and a fully-featured Online Edition – offering students and practitioners access to a whole host of features, including location and needling videos (see example above), multiple self-testing modules, channel pathway videos and much more.
Hall of Impression 印堂
At the glabella, at the midpoint between the medial extremities of the eyebrows.
With the fingers of one hand pinch up the skin over the point, and with the other hand needle transversely in an inferior or lateral direction, 0.3-0.5 cun.
Pacifies wind and calms the shen
Benefits the nose
Activates the channel and alleviates pain
Chronic and acute childhood fright wind, fright spasm, frontal headache, dizziness, dizziness following childbirth, insomnia, agitation and restlessness.
Nasal congestion and discharge, rhinitis, nosebleed, disorders of the eyes, hypertension, pain of the face.
The extra point Yìntáng (M-HN-3) was first discussed in the Essential Questions. It is curious however, that such an important and commonly used point was not classified as a point of the Governing vessel, on whose pathway it lies. Lying between the eyebrows, in the area ascribed to the ‘third eye’ by many traditional cultures, Yìntáng (M-HN-3) has been considered by some qigong authorities to be the location of the upper dantian.
Yìntáng (M-HN-3) is commonly used in four clinical situations: i. as a powerful and effective point to calm the spirit in the treatment of insomnia, anxiety and agitation; ii. to activate the channel and alleviate pain in the treatment of frontal headache; iii. to benefit the nose in the treatment of nasal congestion and discharge, rhinitis, sinus pain, nosebleed etc. and iv. to pacify wind in the treatment of chronic and acute childhood fright wind (infantile convulsions).
Summary of clinical application
Calms the spirit in the treatment of insomnia, anxiety and agitation.
Activates the channel and alleviates pain in the treatment of frontal headache.
Benefits the nose in the treatment of nasal congestion and discharge, rhinitis, sinus pain, nosebleed etc.
Pacifies wind in the treatment of chronic and acute childhood fright wind (infantile convulsions).
Yìntáng (M-HN-3) corresponds to the area ascribed to the ‘third eye’ by many traditional cultures, and has been classified by some qigong authorities as the location of the upper dantian.
Head wind following intoxication: Yìntáng (M-HN-3), Zǎnzhú BL-2 and Zúsānlǐ ST-36 (Great Compendium).
Insomnia: Yìntáng (M-HN-3), Shénmén HE-7 and Sānyīnjiāo SP-6.
Hypertension: Yìntáng (M-HN-3), Qūchí L.I.-11 and Zúsānlǐ ST-36.
Headache: Yìntáng (M-HN-3), Fēngchí GB-20, Tàiyáng (M-HN-9) and Hégǔ L.I.-4.