We should always remember that points provide access to the meridians on which they lie, and through this to the elements deep within, each point a tiny opening through which external energies can be drawn in and down and internal energies drawn up and out. We sometimes forget this, because as acupuncturists we only work on the surface of the body, and our concept of the meridian network is often modelled too closely on the two-dimensional charts hanging on our walls. But though we use the points as places where we needle, their function is to convey the messages our needles are attempting to send down to the elements upon whose meridians they lie. They are therefore always messengers, never the message itself.
Books listing the various functions of individual points can confuse the unwary. If used carefully such books may well add to our understanding of the points, though I myself doubt much that is written in them, wondering upon how much actual clinical experience they are based as opposed to theoretical musings about the ancient Chinese meaning buried in their names. What worries me is that relying on these books for our point selection, which so many acupuncturists sadly tend to do, inevitably weakens the awareness of the link between point and element, and potentially makes a knowledge of the element secondary to the apparent function of a particular point. As five element acupuncturists, we are on a slippery slope once we begin to think of the point as having a function all its own quite distinct from that of the element which gives it that function.
We must never confuse the messenger with the message. And if our treatment is getting nowhere, we should not shoot the messenger (the points we have used), but look to change the message (the element on which they lie)!