What is Spleen 6 and why this acupressure point at this time?
Spleen 6 is known as “Three Yin Intersection” (Sanyinjiao in Chinese) because it is located precisely at the crossover point of the Spleen, Kidney and Liver meridians – all of which are Yin. These energy channels are important in a significant number of functions throughout the body and this multifaceted, dynamic point can be used to address issues having to do with any of the three channels – be they gynecological, digestive or emotional.
Any time is a good time to show some love to your Spleen 6 … but this is a particularly good time. We are currently transitioning into Spring (Wood element / Liver) from Winter (Water element / Kidney). The transition itself is governed by the Earth element (Spleen). It is a short period of confluence of these three energies and an excellent moment to give your Spleen 6 some extra TLC.
NOTE: Spleen 6 is a very powerful point and its treatment is contraindicated during pregnancy.
What sorts of issues may be addressed by giving Spleen 6 some attention?
At the top of the list for Spleen 6 are gynecological & reproductive conditions. (For the gentlemen readers, this means you too.) This could mean PMS, menstrual problems, uterine bleeding, infertility, labor difficulties, impotence, seminal emissions, genital pain or itching, etc. From a TCM perspective all such issues can stem from any (or all) of these systems – Spleen, Liver & Kidney. So a point that influences them all is efficient and effective.
After gynecology, digestion is the next best-known area that warrants love from Spleen 6. This is particularly true of digestive and lower abdominal problems resulting from what is known as “Damp”. This can include diarrhea, undigested food in the stool, abdominal distention or bloating as well as weak appetite. Damp (& particularly systemic Dampness) is often a sign of deficiency in the Spleen energy caused by an overactive Liver.
For those with digestive upsets as well as gynecological problems Spleen 6 is clearly a go-to point.
Dampness in the system also presents as a sensation of heaviness, weakness and fatigue, particularly in the limbs, and swelling (edema) in the legs. Furthermore, it provides an environment in which invasive pathogens (particularly yeast & fungi) will thrive. Low Spleen energy can also give rise to urinary disorders, dizziness, insomnia and anxiety.
Nourishing Spleen 6 will lift the Spleen meridian energy overall and help resolve dampness throughout the body. Just a little bit of regular attention to this important point will also help harmonize the Liver, strengthen the Kidneys and calm the Spirit.
It would take a whole book to list all the useful indications for this point.
To sum up, however, Spleen 6 is one of the primary points for gynecological, digestive, and urinary disorders, as well as emotional and sleep disorders. On a more mundane level, it is also a useful local point for discomfort in the knee, lower leg or ankle.
Where is this point?
Spleen 6 is easy to find: Using the width of your four fingers (pinky to index), measure up from the top of your inner ankle bone. The point lies next to the edge of your index finger, directly above the ankle in the soft part of the leg just behind the shin bone. You’ll know when you find it: your finger will fall into a little divot and there is a good chance that the point will be tender – maybe even very tender.
NOTE: Be sure to use your four fingers to find your Spleen 6.
How do you go about looking after this point?
To access the point:
Set yourself up in a very comfortable, supported way – sitting or lying. You need to be in a relaxed position where you can breathe easily into your lower abdomen.
To hold the point:
Start with one leg at a time. If you are sitting in a chair, leave one foot planted flat on the ground. Taking the knee of the free leg out to the side, rest the ankle on the knee of the other (planted) leg. Using the opposite arm to leg, you should be able to reach the point easily without feeling constricting or awkward. If you are lying on the floor (or your bed), take up the same position as if you were on a chair. If you feel that your out-bent knee requires more support, try sitting on a firm couch and use a cushion or folded blanket.
Depending on your flexibility and inclination, you might like to build up to holding both legs simultaneously.
Try sitting on a mat on the floor with your back to a wall so that you can comfortably pull both heels towards you. Your legs should make a diamond. (Remember to support the knees if that feels more comfortable.) In this case, using both hands, you use the same hand as leg.
You can use either your thumb or index finger – whichever feels more comfortable and allows you to deliver the degree of pressure that feels best for you. The angle of the pressure (even if it is absolutely minimal – the merest touch) is important: ideally, pressure should be exerted directly perpendicular to the skin surface.
How much pressure?
Spleen 6 can be a very sensitive point, and may respond to the lightest touch – especially for women pre- and during menstruation. Just rest your finger on the point to start & imagine a line reaching into the point from the tip of your finger. Breathe softly & deeply into the lower abdomen as you do so. This may be enough if it’s very tender.
If the point is responsive and feels open to more, gently allow the weight of your finger, hand, arm, … to penetrate the point more deeply. Keep your imagination and your breathing engaged.
On the other hand, you may feel nothing, and pressing more firmly won’t change that. Try holding the palm of your hand over the general area; this can be very effective even though you don’t feel it directly.
How long should you hold the point?
Some people feel immediate relief from pain and discomfort when they hold this point. You can start out by holding for 15 to 30 seconds, if that feels comfortable. Then repeat a couple of times on each leg. If you are dealing with a chronic issue, daily holding of this point can be helpful. Hold the point longer every day or so until you work up to one minute.
NOTE: Even though you are physically pressing or putting your hand to the point, the intention with which you do so is that of “holding” – the point, the line of energy and the connection with the breath.
Family members of all ages and genders can really benefit from the application of a little gentle TLC and this is an ideal point through which to deliver it.