By Sara Calabro
This installment of “Why Are You Doing That Point?” will focus on Large Intestine 11. The point is considered one of the most vital acupuncture points throughout the body due to its wide range of indications.
Large Intestine 11—also known as Quchi (Chinese name), Pool at the Crook (English translation) and LI11 (acupuncturist lingo)—is located at the lateral (thumb side) edge of the elbow crease (see picture below).
Use the pool to cool
When I was in acupuncture school, I made up random rhymes and mnemonic devices to remember functions of acupuncture points. The one I used for Large Intestine 11 was “use the pool to cool.”
Large Intestine 11 is a go-to point for reducing fevers. In addition, the point is called upon for many other symptoms that, from an acupuncture perspective, stem from excessive heat. These include sore throat, red and itchy eyes, rashes, hypertension, excessive thirst, toothaches and some headaches.
For heat-related symptoms that occur in the lower body, Large Intestine 11 usually is combined with points on other meridians that transverse the legs. For example, Large Intestine 11, along with one or more points along the Spleen channel, is used to address heavy menstrual bleeding, typically considered a heat sign. For constipation due to heat and dryness, Large Intestine 11 might be combined with Stomach 36.
Upper limb protector
After heat clearing, addressing upper limb problems is the most common use for Large Intestine 11.
The Large Intestine channel starts at the index finger and runs up the arm to the face, where it ends just outside the nostril. The bulk of the channel resides on the arm. With the exception of Large Intestine 4, Large Intestine 11 is considered the most powerful point for resolving issues along the Large Intestine channel, especially on the elbow and shoulder.
People suffering from tennis elbow (lateral epicondylitis), golfer’s elbow (medial epicondylitis), elbow arthritis, and any other kind of elbow pain are sure to get Large Intestine 11. Rotator cuff syndrome, frozen shoulder, and other types of shoulder problems can be helped by the point as well. Certain forms of carpal tunnel may also improve with Large Intestine 11 since it’s located near the forearm extensor muscles, which are often involved in wrist pain.
Boost your immunity
Although it is not traditionally known for its immune-boosting properties, Large Intestine 11 is sometimes used preventively to help battle colds and flus, and other immune-compromising conditions.
In fact, one well-known style of Japanese acupuncture (Kiiko Matsumoto’s) considers Large Intestine 11 to be the master immune point in the body. It’s actually a point that falls just slightly below and outside Large Intestine 11. The exact location is determined according to the patient’s sensitivity in that area. The most sensitive spot is usually the most effective when treated.
Even when there are no signs of heat or problems in the upper limbs, I often include Large Intestine 11 (or the closest sensitive spot) in my treatments this time of year, when we can all use an immunity boost. If you feel cold or flu symptoms coming on, try feeling around the area of Large Intestine 11 until you hit a sensitive spot. Press, massage and repeat.
Next on “Why Are You Doing That Point?” is Gallbladder 34.
Photo by Sara Calabro; LI 11 infographic from A Manual of Acupuncture
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