The Five Changes 五變 and the Five Shu Points 五輸

Ling Shu Ch. 44


Huang Di: I would like to learn about the five changes.

Qi Bo: Pathological changes may occur in in the organ, and in color, time, tone, and flavor.

The Liver is yang in nature. Its color is green, its time is the spring season and the day jiǎ yǐ 甲乙 (the 1st & 2nd Heavenly Stems, pertaining to the Wood element), its tone is qiao 角 , and its flavor is sour.

The Heart is yang in nature. Its color is red, its time is summer and the day bǐng dīng 丙丁(the 3rd & 4th Heavenly Stems, pertaining to the Fire element), its tone is zheng 徵, and its flavor is bitter.

The  Spleen is yin in nature. Its color is yellow, its time is the late summer and the day wù jǐ 戊己 (the 5th & 6th Heavenly Stems, pertaining to the Earth element), its tone is gong 宮, and its flavor is sweet.

The Lung is yin in nature. Its color is white, its time is autumn and the day gēng xīn 庚辛 (the 7th & 8th Heavenly Stems, pertaining to the Metal element), its tone is shang 商 , and its flavor is acrid.

The Kidney is yin in nature. Its color is black, its time is winter and the day rén guǐ 壬癸 (the 9th & 10th Heavenly Stems, pertaining to the Water element), its tone is yu 羽 , and its flavor is salty.


Huang Di: How does needling of the five shu 輸 points relate to the five changes?

Qi Bo: The zang organs store and winter is the season for storage. Needle the jing 井 points in winter to treat the zang organs. Colors flourish in spring. Needle the ying 滎 points to treat changes in color. The energy of all the seasons attains full expression in summer. Needle the shu 輸 points in summer to affect time. The tones govern late summer. Needle the jing 經 points in late summer to treat changes in tone. The flavors relate to nutrition and Autumn. Needle the he 合 points in autumn to treat the digestive.


Huang Di: Please explain further.

Qi Bo: When a disease is in the organs, needle the jing 井 points. When a disease changes the color of the skin or complexion, needle the ying 滎 points. When a disease manifests intermittently, needle the shu 輸 points. When a disease changes the sound of the patient’s voice, needle the jing 經 points. When there is blood stagnation, or when the disease is in the stomach, or when a disease results from diet irregularities, needle the he 合 points. Thus the five shu 輸 points are needled to treat the five changes.


Huang Di: Since the yang meridians each has a separate yuan 原 point, that makes six shu 輸 points?

Qi Bo: Alone among the shu points, the yuan 原 points do not correspond with the five seasons. They are used according to the nature of the meridian each is on. Yes, the yang meridians altogether have six times six equals to thirty-six shu 輸 points. (The yin meridians altogether have only thirty because their yuan and shu 輸 points are the same points.)


About Lok-Kwan

Lok-Kwan is a Licensed Acupuncturist in the state of Illinois. He is a board-certified acupuncturist and herbalist. He sees patients and teaches qigong in Chicago and Wilmette. Visit his website
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