By Sara Calabro
The Why Are You Doing That Point? series is back with a lesser used but very valuable acupuncture point: Kidney 1.
Kidney 1—also known as Gushing Spring (English name), Yongquan (Chinese translation), and KD1 (acupuncturist lingo)—is located on the bottom of the foot (see picture below).
Kidney 1 is the only acupuncture point on the bottom of the foot. Since some people are freaked out at the thought of taking a needle there, many acupuncturists stay clear of needling Kidney 1.
However, Kidney 1 hurts much less than you’d expect—often, there’s no sensation at all—especially when it’s needled by a skilled acupuncturist.
Acupuncturists commonly use Kidney 1 as an acupressure point, at either the beginning or end of a treatment, to help ground a person’s energy (more on this below). You can do this yourself. Because it’s on the bottom of the foot, Kidney 1 is an easily accessible point for performing self-acupressure.
To find the exact location of Kidney 1, flex your foot down toward the floor. A small depression forms in the upper middle of the foot, right where the point is located. Given Kidney 1’s array of uses, this is a good spot to know.
Get out of your head
Located on the bottom of the foot, Kidney 1 is the lowest acupuncture point on the entire body. This relates to the point’s best-known use, which is to drain excess from the upper part of the body, especially the head.
In acupuncture terms, we call this excess qi or Wind or Yang, but it’s actually an intuitive concept to which Westerners can easily relate.
It’s what we mean when we say someone is “all in their head.” Basically, a whole bunch of energy, which should be evenly distributed throughout the body, gets concentrated in the head. This causes us to over think and obsess on things, feel anxious and eventually depressed, and experience physical symptoms such as insomnia, headaches and migraines, dizziness, and even poor vision and nosebleeds.
Kidney 1 is a mechanism for dispersing all the stuff that most of us have swimming around in our heads, preventing us from the emotional calm and physical comfort we crave.
A natural insomnia remedy
Ask most people who suffer from insomnia why they can’t sleep and they’ll tell you it’s because they can’t turn off their mind. Kidney 1 to the rescue!
Insomnia caused by relentless ruminating is exactly the type for which Kidney 1 is great.
From an acupuncture perspective, Kidney 1’s effectiveness at alleviating insomnia has much to do with the Kidney system’s relationship to the Heart system, a common culprit in sleep disorders. When the two systems are not communicating properly, emotional symptoms, including insomnia from over thinking, commonly occur.
Massaging Kidney 1 before you get into bed at night is a great self-care remedy for insomnia. You can do targeted acupressure directly on the point or generally rub the bottom of your feet (AcuTake contributor Eric Kerr demonstrates in this video). Whichever method you choose, do both feet.
Another effective self-care technique for reducing insomnia via Kidney 1 is soaking your feet in a bowl of warm water before bed. This will help draw down the excess energy that causes your mind to spin, and you to toss and turn all night.
For peace of mind and restful nights, get to know Kidney 1.
Photo by Sara Calabro; Kidney 1 infographic from A Manual of Acupuncture
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