I was reminded of this when a fellow acupuncturist got in touch with me recently, asking for my advice about how he could help his wife who was suffering from very debilitating hot flushes, which persisted almost continuously throughout the day and left her feeling exhausted. Using the experience from my own practice, I suggested he should add III 38 to the treatment he was giving her (her element is Metal), and asked him to let me know afterwards whether this had helped.
He phoned me the next day to say that the effect had been miraculous. His wife's hot flushes had stopped completely immediately after needling III 38 (with 7 moxa cones) ,and he noticed that her skin looked and felt quite different. Where previously it had been hot and clammy, and had a rather sickly colour, it felt much cooler to the touch and had regained a healthier colour, and she no longer felt cold and shivery as she had done. I interpreted this as evidence that this point, well warmed by moxibustion, had enabled her body to take control of the fire raging inside her as the hot flushes took hold. He completed the treatment by needling the source points of Metal. Two days later his wife had had no further hot flushes.
Thinking through why this point should have such an effect on reducing hot flushes, I have come to the conclusion that this must be because it has a close relationship to the Fire element. We know that each point is related to the other points lying on the same meridian, as well as to points on other meridians which have a close anatomical relationship to it. For example, III (Bl) 37 (42), on the Outer Bladder line, lies at the same horizontal plane as the AEP (back shu point) of the Lung, Bl 13, on the Inner Bladder line, and can therefore be seen as having a particular relationship to the Metal element. Similarly, III 38 on the Outer Bladder line, lies at the same level as the AEP of the Heart Protector (Pericardium), III (Bl) 14, on the Inner Bladder line, and therefore can be seen to relate closely to the Fire element. At a physical level, the two Outer Fire officials, the Heart Protector and the Three Heater, are in control of the blood and the body’s temperature mechanism, both of which the appearance of hot flushes show to be under extreme stress. Needling III 38, beautifully warmed up by adding 7 moxa cones beforehand, is therefore a way of helping bring balance back to Outer Fire. If further treatment is needed, more moxa cones can be added.
Bl 38 is one of the few points, apart from command points, which we can use several times in succession, and to my mind is probably one of the points which form the bedrock of five element practice. One of its qualities is that it can increase its effect simply by increasing the number of moxa cones by a factor of 7 at subsequent treatments, up to a total of 50 cones (or more symbolically, I like to think, 49 (7 x 7) cones). It has an amazing effect on patients undergoing chemo- or radiotherapy, or for those with anaemia, where it can be used at successive treatments, often only a few days apart, to help the Fire element regain control of the blood.