In my last blog (25 July) I said that I am never happy simply relying on my pulse readings to detect the appearance of blocks. To supplement what I think the pulses are telling me, over the years I have therefore drawn up my own list of signs, both physical and emotional, which alert me to the possibility that they may be there.
Entry-Exit blocks form the largest group of blocks. I have always thought that they should really
be called Exit-Entry blocks, because they occur between the exit points of one
meridian on the Wei cycle of energy and the entry point of its adjacent
meridian, for example between X (LI) 20 and XI (St) 1. They are a sign of an over-accumulation of
energy at the exit point of the first meridian leading to depletion of energy
at the entry point of the following meridian, with the pulses of the Exit point
having relatively excess energy compared with the pulse on the next Entry point.
In the example of a X- XI block, for some
reason the Large Intestine has become unable to pass some of its energy on to
the Stomach, or the Stomach has become too weak to accept it.
One of the advantages of the five element numbering of
meridians i that the numerical order we use makes it easy to list the
blocks. These consist of the following
blocks: II – III (SI – Bl), IV – V (Ki – HP), VI – VII (TH – GB), VIII – IX
(Liv – Lu), X – XI (LI – St) and XII – I (Sp – Ht). The remaining Entry-Exit block is that
between CV and GV (Du Mai and Ren Mai), which stands somewhat apart, as being
the most significant block of all. I
will write about this in another blog.
A frequently found block is a II – III (SI - Bl) block
between Inner Fire and the Water element, treated by needling II 19 and III 1.
Here physical symptoms can sometimes be very obvious, with patients pinching
the corners of their eyes to get rid of some irritation, or rubbing itchy ears. At the deeper level, the block can be found
at a time when a person is struggling to sort out their life, often appearing
as treatment progresses, and patients are aware that changes need to be made, which
put a strain on the Small Intestine, the official most involved with working
out such changes.
This is a block often found in children. Their frequent ear-aches and hearing troubles
can be seen in five element terms as signs of the stress life places upon a
child’s Small Intestine, as it tries to make sense of all the confusing signals
pouring into its ears from the world outside.
Western medicine treats these ear problems by inserting grommets. We do it, much less drastically, by needling
II 19 and III 1. In a similar fashion,
much of the disturbing increase in the prescription of steroid inhalers for
young children affected by asthma could well be reduced by treating their X –
XI (LI – St) blocks to counter the increasing levels of environmental and
emotional pollution they are exposed to which is being inhaled by a child’s
All these blocks are at the exit point of one element and
the entry point of the next element. I
have wondered how often there may also be blocks within an element, in other
words between its yin and yang officials, which are more difficult to detect
from a pulse reading. I remember JR
Worsley saying that after a little treatment an element’s yin and yang
officials become strong enough to share their energy, and at no time during the
many hours I spent observing him with patients do I recall him diagnosing a
block of this kind within an element. I
have however myself once found a IX – X block between the Lung and the Large
Intestine within the Metal element in a patient who had just had colostomy
surgery. There was a very marked discrepancy between the two pulses, and I
successfully cleared this block by needling IX 7, the exit point on the Lung,
and X 4, the entry point on the Large Intestine. But this was the only time in my many years
of practice where I found a sufficiently noticeable block within an
When trying to diagnose an Entry-Exit block, I always like
to have in mind the physical area of the body where the entry and exit points
are located, and, at a deeper level, look to see whether the patient is showing
any emotional signs indicating some disturbance of the officials
concerned. In the case of a X - XI
block, for example, the position of X 20 at the side of the nose and of XI 1
just below the eye indicates a blockage of energy running up the nose towards
the eye. It is easy to see that this may
well cause, and does often cause, symptoms such as hay fever, sinusitis or
conjunctivitis. At a deeper level, this
block can also be seen as a manifestation of the difficulty the Metal element’s
LI official may be experiencing in letting go for some reason, and the resultant
difficulty of the Earth element’s Stomach official to process what is coming to it. This imbalance between the two linked
elements may also reveal itself in changes in some of the sensory signals they
show, such as a very marked change of colour or emotion. For example, I have detected an VIII – IX (Liv
– Lu) block in patients well before taking a pulse reading, because a patient
who has previously been very mild and gentle suddenly turns up for treatment
telling me how angry he feels with the world.
It is important to remember, too, that Entry-Exit blocks are
not related to a particular element, and can appear in people of any
element. They can therefore not be used
to help us diagnose a person’s element.
Finally, I have noticed that people have what I call their
“favourite” blocks, ones that recur at intervals. Mine happens to be a II – III (SI - Bl)
block, other people’s might be a XII – 1 (Sp - Ht) block or a VIII – IX (Li - Lu) block. These blocks recur only very infrequently,
perhaps once in 6 months or a year, and are a sign of some individual
weakness in the balance of the elements within us.
My next blog will be about the deepest block all, that
between CV and GV (Ren Mai and Du Mai).