It’s good to think what the function of a junction point is. What is it actually joining to what? What it does is provide a link between the paired yin and yang officials, drawing energy from one to the other. What happens when we needle VII 37 and VIII 5 together is that we are just drawing energy from Liver to Gall Bladder by tonifying VII 37, and from Gall Bladder to Liver by tonifying VIII 5. But there is only a point in doing this if one or other official is relatively deficient compared with the other. This does not seem to be the reasoning behind the current and growing use of junction points. Usually, the yin and yang officials share their energy and balance any discrepancy without help from us. To draw energy away from one official to the other through their junction points as a matter of course without first considering whether either official needs this support therefore appears to me to be wrong, and may well be a waste of a treatment. And we should never waste treatments.
At an advanced training course with JR, I remember how cross he became when somebody suggested the junction points of Three Heater and Heart Protector as a choice of points for a Fire patient. JR said, “Are you choosing these because you really think that this patient needs his Inner and Outer Frontier Gates opened, or just because you can’t think of any other points?” He said he would choose them only if he felt that the gates were blocked between the two officials. The only other junction points I ever heard him selecting together in all the years that I observed him with patients were those of Stomach and Spleen, XI 40 and XII 4, and he explained that he chose these, not because they happened also to be junction points, but because of the spirit of what each point gave the other.
There are, however, some rare cases when there might be inequality between the yin and yang officials, which needs correcting and which will appear as what is called a split pulse. In all my years of practice, the only time I have found a marked discrepancy of this kind, and used the junction points to treat it, was in a patient who had had a colostomy bag fitted, and whose Lung pulse was markedly much stronger than his Large Intestine pulse. Here I tonified the junction point of the LI, LI 6, to draw the excess energy from the Lung. The Lung and Large Intestine pulses returned to balance with one another, and the patient immediately felt better.
We also use junction points when we want to correct an Akabane imbalance, but this time we draw energy to the same official from one side of the body to the other, not to or from its paired official. And of course they can be used individually for what we call "their spirit", for example III (Bl) 58 or I (Ht) 5, where my choice will be based upon their name and what I think this point therefore offers its official.
So I would plead with all five element acupuncturists to think carefully about their reasoning for choosing paired junction points. They should ask themselves whether they are simply choosing them because they can’t think of anything else to do! If that is the case, then choose the source points, or, if there is enough energy in the mother element, the tonification points. These are points which can be repeated again and again. But to keep on choosing junction points is like keeping on trying to open a door which is already open!