Kidney 1 acupuncture point (Yongquan KID-1) is the lowest point on the body, being the only recognised point on the sole of the foot. It is well known for its calming and descending properties – as the Manual of Acupuncture puts it, it ‘returns the unrooted back to its source’ (see below for the full text). It is commonly used to quieten the mind, and for menopausal symptoms such as hot flushes and night sweats. But it also has various other applications, as you will see from the full description below.
Clinical experience with Kidney 1 acupuncture point
In my own practice, I’ve found Kidney 1 to be invaluable when a patient exhibits general agitation and restlessness. Using acupressure on this point will often quickly bring about a sense of calm, so it’s often a nice way to begin a treatment. It can be a painful point to needle as it’s a sensitive area, which is another reason to consider acupressure. But a quick needle insertion and mindful technique should make needling quite possible too.
As is the case with most acupuncture points, Kidney 1 can be used to treat pain in the local area. I have one long-term patient who suffers from chronic leg and foot pain, and needling Kidney 1 is the only thing she’s found that offers relief.
Debra Betts uses this point as a calming and pain relieving point for women in labour. The birth partner can easily apply pressure to the point, or alternatively travel bands can be used to apply a more constant pressure. This technique and others are demonstrated in the video course Debra and I put together for pregnant women and their partners.
I also commonly suggest that patients focus on Kidney 1 during meditation or deep breathing exercises, especially when they suffer from anxiety or insomnia. As you will read below, this point is indicated when there is Kidney deficiency leading to ‘pathologically ascending qi, yang, deficiency heat or wind [rushing] upwards to harass the head’ (see below). Focusing on this point, or using self-massage techniques, will often counter this process.
Kidney 1 acupuncture point and resuscitation
Another traditional use of Kidney 1 is to revive collapse, which is a common characteristic of the jing-well points. See here for some interesting observations by an Argentinian doctor who uses Kidney 1 in the emergency room.
Kidney 1 acupuncture point location and needling video (taken from A Manual of Acupuncture digital products)
Kidney 1 acupuncture point: excerpt from A Manual of Acupuncture
The following text is taken from the Kidney 1 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.
Gushing Spring 涌泉
Jing-Well and Wood point of the Kidney channel
On the sole of the foot, between the second and third metatarsal bones, approximately one third of the distance between the base of the second toe and the heel, in a depression formed when the foot is plantar flexed.
Perpendicular insertion 0.5 to 1 cun.
Descends excess from the head
Calms the spirit
Revives consciousness and rescues yang
Loss of consciousness from windstroke, loss of consciousness.
Epilepsy, childhood fright wind, dizziness, visual dizziness, cloudy vision, vertex headache, hypertension, throat painful obstruction, throat pain with inability to swallow, loss of voice, dry tongue, nosebleed, dark complexion, running piglet qi.
Agitation, insomnia, poor memory, propensity to fear, rage with desire to kill people, madness, Heart pain.
Cough, dyspnoea, vomiting and coughing blood.
Wind rash, sudden turmoil disorder with cramps, contracted sinews.
Constipation, lumbar pain with difficult defecation, difficult urination, pain in the lower abdomen in pregnant women with inability to urinate, fullness of the lower abdomen, periumbilical pain, shan disorder, infertility, impotence, disorders due to excessive sexual activity, fullness of the lateral costal region, jaundice, diminished qi.
Lower limb paralysis, chronic leg qi, pain and swelling of the leg, cold sensation of the feet and shins, heat in the soles of the feet, chronic pain and numbness of the foot, pain of the five toes with inability to stand.
Yǒngquǎn KID-1, the only channel point on the sole of the foot and therefore the lowest point on the body, is the wood point of the Kidney water channel. According to the Classic of Difficulties“in cases of deficiency reinforce the mother, in cases of excess reduce the child”. As the ‘child’ point of the Kidney channel, Yǒngquǎn KID-1 therefore has a powerful effect on reducing excess above by ‘returning the unrooted back to its source’, reflected both in the statement in the Ode to Elucidate Mysteries that “Yǒngquǎn KID-1 echoes the earth”, and in alternative names for this point such as ‘Earth Surge’ (Dichong) and ‘Earth Thoroughfare’ (Dichong).
When the Kidneys are deficient below, pathologically ascending qi, yang, deficiency heat or wind may rush upwards to harass the head. The powerful effect of Yǒngquǎn KID-1 on descending and clearing such excess is recorded in a story about the famous 2nd century physician Hua Tuo who treated General Wei Tai-cu (the posthumously consecrated emperor of the Wei dynasty) for ‘head wind, confused mind and visual dizziness’. Following the principle of selecting points below to treat disorders above, Hua Tuo needled Yǒngquǎn KID-1 and “the general was immediately cured”.
In clinical practice, Yǒngquǎn KID-1 is principally used to treat: i. uprising of Liver yang, Liver fire or Liver wind, ii.disharmony of the Heart and Kidneys, and iii. disorders of the throat.
The Kidneys are the root of the yin of all the zangfu. This has especial relevance to the Liver, Heart and Lung, all of which are reached by the Kidney channel. According to a saying of Chinese medicine “the Kidneys and the Liver share the same origin”. Kidney water is the mother of Liver wood, and the Kidney yin is the origin and source of Liver yin. When Kidney water fails to nourish Liver wood, the fierce and unrestrained yang of the Liver rushes up to the head giving rise to such symptoms as headache at the vertex, dizziness, visual dizziness, cloudy vision, hypertension and nosebleed. If excess Liver yang generates wind there may be windstroke or epilepsy. Yǒngquǎn KID-1 is able both to regulate the Kidneys, the root of these symptoms, and to treat the manifestations by strongly descending the pathological excess.
The Kidneys belong to water and the Heart to fire, and the Kidneys and Heart are said to ‘mutually support’ each other, the Kidney yin nourishing and moistening Heart yin and restraining Heart fire, and Heart yang descending to warm the Kidneys. Harmony between the Kidneys and Heart is one of the prerequisites for a stable and peaceful spirit. When Kidney yin is deficient and deficiency fire of the Heart blazes, or when the connection is broken and the Kidneys and Heart do not communicate, the spirit becomes agitated, leading to a wide variety of emotional disorders ranging from the relatively mild, (agitation, insomnia, poor memory, propensity to fear) to the severe (madness, rage with desire to kill people). It is recommended (and widely applied in China) for patients suffering from insomnia to massage bilateral Yǒngquǎn KID-1before bedtime, or to steep the feet in a bowl of hot water to draw down the excess yang.
The ability of Yǒngquǎn KID-1 to restrain uprising of deficiency heat and Liver yang, and to pacify the spirit, renders it especially suitable to treat menopausal disorder characterised by hot flushes, night sweating, insomnia, agitation, anxiety and headache.
The Kidney channel ascends to the throat and the root of the tongue. When fierce heat from Kidney deficiency rises along the Kidney channel, it scorches the fluids and gives rise to swelling and congestion of the throat, throat pain with inability to swallow and dry tongue. Because of its ability to reduce heat and fire in the throat region, Yǒngquǎn KID-1 may also be used in swelling and pain of the throat due to other aetiologies. According to the Spiritual Pivot the Kidney channel terminates at Liánquán REN-23, an important point in the treatment of disorders of the tongue, and Yǒngquǎn KID-1 is also indicated for loss of voice, whether due to exterior pathogens or to windstroke.
Yǒngquǎn KID-1 is secondarily used for: i. disorders of the Lung, ii. running piglet qi, iii. loss of consciousness, and iv.disorders of the two lower yin.
According to a saying of Chinese medicine “The Lung is the canopy and the Kidneys are the root”. As the uppermost zang, the Lung receives via respiration the clear qi of heaven (qing qi) in the same way that the canopy of a forest receives the light and air essential for life. Through the grasping and holding function of the Kidneys, the qi is drawn down via inhalation to the root below. If the Kidneys are deficient and fail to grasp the qi, there may be dyspnoea and coughing, both indications for this point.
Running piglet qi primarily arises when stagnant Liver qi transforms to heat, or when Kidney yang deficiency leads to accumulation of cold in the lower jiao. In both cases, qi is violently discharged and rushes upwards along the Penetrating vessel. The action of Yǒngquǎn KID-1 in harmonising the Kidneys and Liver and redirecting pathologically ascending qi downwards is reflected in its use in the treatment of this disorder.
Yǒngquǎn KID-1 is the jing-well point of the Kidney channel, and like many of the other jing-well points has a powerful action on opening the portals and reviving collapse, whether in windstroke or loss of consciousness. It is cited in the Song of the Nine Needles for Returning the Yang for the treatment of collapse of yang characterised by loss of consciousness, aversion to cold, cold counterflow of the limbs, purple lips etc.
The Kidneys rule the two lower yin, the anus and urethra. Yǒngquǎn KID-1 may be used in the treatment of constipation, especially when due to yin deficiency and consequent dryness, as well as for difficult urination.
Yǒngquǎn KID-1 is an important point in qigong practice. Directing the mind to Yǒngquǎn KID-1, or inhaling and exhaling through this point, roots and descends the qi in the lower dantian (cinnabar field) and helps the body absorb the yin energy of the earth. In common with its application in acupuncture, this practice is particularly recommended whenever excessive yang rebels upwards to the Heart, Lung or head.
Finally, Yǒngquǎn KID-1 has been the subject of many modern studies into the application of herbal plasters to acupuncture points. A variety of herbal substances are ground, made into a paste and applied to this point for disorders such as mouth ulcers and hypertension.
Summary of clinical application
Returns the unrooted back to its source: descends qi, yang,deficiency heat or wind (vertex headache, dizziness, visual dizziness, cloudy vision, hypertension, nosebleed, windstroke, epilepsy, menopausal hot flushes). “Yongquan KID-1 echoes the earth” (Ode to Elucidate Mysteries).
Calms the spirit: agitation, insomnia, poor memory, propensity to fear, madness, rage with desire to kill people.
Benefits the throat and tongue: swelling, congestion and pain, inability to swallow, dry tongue, loss of voice.
Headache and visual dizziness: Yǒngquǎn KID-1, Sìbái ST-2 and Dàzhù BL-11 (Supplementing Life).
Visual dizziness: Yǒngquǎn KID-1, Shéntíng DU-24, Shàngxīng DU-23, Yīxǐ BL-45, Yújì LU-10 and Dàdū SP-2(Supplementing Life).
The five types of epilepsy: Yǒngquǎn KID-1 and Láogōng P-8 (Song of Points).
Wind epilepsy: Yǒngquǎn KID-1 and Jǐzhōng DU-6 (Supplementing Life).
Wind epilepsy: Yǒngquǎn KID-1, Shéntíng DU-24 and Sùliáo DU-25 (Great Compendium).
Dementia: Yǒngquǎn KID-1, Shénmén HE-7, Shàoshāng LU-11 and Xīnshū BL-15 (Great Compendium).
Pain of the throat with inability to eat: Yǒngquǎn KID-1 and Dàzhōng KID-4 (Thousand Ducat Formulas).
Throat painful obstruction with chills and fever: Yǒngquǎn KID-1 and Rángǔ KID-2 (Thousand Ducat Formulas).
Loss of voice: Yǒngquǎn KID-1, Hégǔ L.I.-4 and Yángliāo GB-35 (Systematic Classic).
Severe thirst of wasting and thirsting disorder: Yǒngquǎn KID-1 and Xíngjiān LIV-2 (One Hundred Symptoms).
Infertility: Yǒngquǎn KID-1, Cìliáo BL-32 and Shāngqiū SP-5 (Supplementing Life).
Pain of the five toes with inability to tread on the ground: Yǒngquǎn KID-1 and Rángǔ KID-2 (Supplementing Life).
Injury by cold with great heat that does not recede: reduce Yǒngquǎn KID-1, Hégǔ L.I.-4, Qūchí L.I.-11, Xuánzhōng GB-39, Zúsānlǐ ST-36 and Dàzhuī DU-14 (Great Compendium).
Wind rash: Yǒngquǎn KID-1 and Huántiào GB-30 (Supplementing Life).
Stiffness and pain of the lumbar region: Yǒngquǎn KID-1, Yāoshū DU-2, Wěizhōng BL-40, Xiǎochángshū BL-27 and Pángguāngshū BL-28 (Great Compendium).
Menopausal hot flushes: Yǒngquǎn KID-1, Tàichōng LIV-3, Yīnxī HE-6 and Guānyuán REN-4.