The number of points is described in various sources as 787, 800, or 720 generally known, and 180 known only to masters. Their positions on the body are immovable and a single misplaced needle may cause death within hours. The points include those of the Marvelous Vessels, which are at the intersections of the meridians. There are also 40 independent points. These points have been classified into six categories, as follows:
The toning point, whose role is to have a tonic effect upon an array of functions that have been disturbed by some deficiency (atrophy, insufficient secretion, etc.)
The point of dispersion, whose role is to calm an array of functions disturbed by some excess such as hypertrophy,a hypersecretion, spasms, or contractions.
The source point, whose action reinforces tonicization or dispersion and regulates certain functions.
The point of acquiescence, a special point that has the particular characteristic that no matter what meridian it belongs to, it is always situated on the path of the meridian of the bladder, where it contributes acquiescence or assent (or secondary action) to that of the tonicizing point or the calming point.
The herald point, also a special point that draws the physician’s attention to the difficulties of the meridian to which it belongs. Pain is spontaneous at this point, and it is alwavs situated on the meridian of the ailing organ or in its immediate proximity.
The passage point (Lo) that ties two meridians together.
According to the Chinese, each point has a name. Western medi- cine, when adopting acupuncture, identifies the points by naming the meridian on which they are situated and giving them an ordinal number. For instance, one speaks of the 36th stomach, the 1st kidney. Their location is defined in the West by some reference to precise anatomical regions.
Despite its spectacular aspects, acupuncture is not painful because each needle is inserted only a short distance. In rare cases, needles have been pushed about one inch into muscle. Occasionally very short needles, protected by bandages, are kept in place for 1 or 2 weeks.
Two of the 700 to 800 known acupuncture points which must be learned by the acupuncturist, who literally has to pinpoint the precise location for each needle. Here, the needles have been placed above the heel on each foot
Needles are inserted at the proper position on the lower back.