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Union Valley - Key acupuncture point for relief of a number of health discomforts

Published:Wednesday | May 6, 2015 | 12:00 AM

Of the close to 1,000 acupuncture points on the body, the point identified as LI.4 (Large Intestine 4), or 'Union Valley', stands out for its use in the relief of a number of health discomforts. LI.4 is located on the back/dorsum of the hand, between the first and second metacarpal bones, in the middle of the second metacarpal bone on the radial side.

It lies on what is known as the large intestine channel/meridian, which originates at the tip of the index finger and runs along the outer arm and forearm, ending on the face, beside the nose.




Its indications include:

- Conditions related to the head and face.

- Painful period.

- Abdominal pain, constipation, diarrhea.

- Irritability.

- Pain relief.




LI.4 is used to alleviate a number of discomforts in the head (upper jiao). Most notably, it is often used to alleviate nasal congestion, sinus congestion and allergic reactions presenting with symptoms on the face such as facial swelling, runny and itchy eyes, and rashes.

Additionally, it is used for tooth and jaw pain, headaches and dizziness. It is also indicated for paralysis, tics, pains and deviations of the face associated with conditions such as a post-stroke episode, fibromyalgia and trigeminal neuralgia.




LI.4 may be used alone, or in combination with other acupuncture points, to restore calm for persons suffering from:

- Insomnia: disturbances in sleep patterns, resulting from difficulty falling asleep, staying asleep or both.

- Excessive agitation, restlessness and irritability, whether due to lack of good sleep, uncomfortable environmental factors, work and family pressures or a medical condition.

Stress and anxiety: whether due to work, family or a variety of life pressures.


PAINFUL PERIOD (Dysmenorrhea)


LI.4, along with choice points on the abdomen and the feet, is used to reduce, manage and alleviate pain accompanying the period. It is also used for pelvic pain related to gynecological conditions such as endometriosis and ovarian cysts.




LI.4 is used to regulate the digestive system and restore balance. In so doing, it relieves complaints such as constipation, diarrhea and abdominal discomforts following meals.




It is often included in treatments to alleviate pain in any part of the body because of its strong ability to promote the smooth flow of qi throughout the body. It is, therefore, used to relieve joint and muscular pain which present anywhere in the body.







One method of stimulating LI.4 is with the insertion of very thin acupuncture needles. When needled, the acupuncture needle is directed perpendicularly with a needling depth of half an inch and left in for the duration of the acupuncture session.




Alternately, one can administer self massage at this point as it is easily located, using slow circular motions for five minutes or more. Depending on whether you are using this point to aid digestion, relieve anxiety or pain, appropriately diluted essential oils may be massaged at the point to enhance relief.

Digestion-aiding oils: peppermint, ginger, bergamot, anise

Calming oils: chamomile, lavender, sandalwood, ylang ylang, frankincense

Pain-relief: Turmeric

- Dr Tracey-Ann Brown is an oriental medicine practitioner, herbalist and doctor of acupuncture; email: