Measuring only four inches in length, the gallbladder is an organ small in comparison to many other organs in the human body. It can be found under the liver in the upper right quadrant of the abdomen. The gallbladder stores bile. Bile is a combination of fat, fluids, and cholesterol that helps break down fat from the food we eat. The bile is then secreted into the small intestine allowing fat-soluble vitamins to be more easily absorbed by the body. And even though the gallbladder has a very specific function, it is not vital for life, as the liver actually produces bile.
In Traditional Chinese Medicine, the gallbladder meridian (channel where the acupuncture points are located), has several other functions too. The gallbladder governs decision making and planning. It affects dreams and it controls the sinews of the body. The gallbladder is responsible for passion, action, and assertiveness.
Many people have problems with their gallbladders. This is usually caused by one of two main conditions, poor diet or excessive stress. A person who experiences severe chronic stress and couples that with poor eating habits, can easily become sick. Greasy, rich or spicy foods combined with added stress lead to inflammation in the gallbladder, as well as stagnation that can contribute to the formation of gallstones.
There are some acupuncture points that can be very beneficial when dealing with gallbladder-related issues. Here are five of the most commonly used:
Gallbladder 34 – This point is located on the outer aspect of the lower leg, in the depression in front of and below the head of the fibula. Gallbladder 34 is the command point of the joints and sinews, which makes it a great choice for relieving pain, especially in the lower extremities. It is also used to address hemiplegia, lateral costal pain, bitter taste in the mouth, vomiting, and jaundice.
Liver 14 – Located bilaterally on the abdomen, directly below the nipple, four thumb-breadths from the midline, in the sixth intercostal space. Liver 14 promotes the smooth flow of liver Qi and benefits the digestive tract. This point is also useful to address depression, distention, and pain in the chest and hypochondrium, as well as abdominal distention, hiccup, and acid regurgitation.
Urinary Bladder 18 – This point is located bilaterally on either side of the spine, at the lower border of the ninth thoracic vertebra, about one and a half thumb-breadths from the spine. This point benefits liver Qi and decreases anger and irritability. And is indicated to help with pain in the hypochondrium, jaundice, eye diseases, vomiting, epistaxis, manic psychosis, and back pain.
Gallbladder 43 – Located bilaterally on the outer edge of the top of the foot, just proximal to the margin of the web between the fourth and fifth toes. Gallbladder 43 is a great point for resolving damp heat in the gallbladder, which is often caused by eating too much greasy or fatty food. This is a good point to use for somebody suffering from gallstone pain, headache, dizziness, redness, swelling, and pain of the eye, tinnitus, deafness, mastitis, and pain in the hypochondrium.
Liver 3 – This point is located bilaterally on the top of the foot, in the depression about one thumb-breadth from the edge of the webbing between the first and second toes. Liver 3 is one of the most widely used acupuncture points. It is used to treat lower abdominal fullness, jaundice, and distention of the lateral costal region, where the gallbladder is located. And can also treat various headaches, vertigo, redness, swelling and pain of the eye, wry face, depression, pain in the hypochondrium, abdominal distention, hiccup, weakness, numbness, and pain of the lower extremities, difficulty in walking, irregular menstruation, metrorrhagia and metrostaxis, hernia, enuresis, epilepsy, and infantile convulsions.
Any of these points can be used alone or in conjunction with others. They can be manually stimulated using pressure from a finger or a dull, rounded tool. But for best effects, it is recommended that acupuncture be applied.
But as with any medical modality, it is important to talk with us before treating or diagnosing yourself. Give us a call if you have any questions!