Zi Wu Liu Zhu Fa 子午流注法 is a method of prescribing and needling the five Shu points based on the date and time of treatment. Some of the ideas involved are well-known: for instance, the circadian flow of qi and blood through the twelve meridians. Others, like the sexagenary cycles of days and years, may be obscure. However, the basic rationale for the method is easy to understand. The emphasis is on time and timing. Life advances through cycles of day and night but there are larger cycles of months, seasons, and years, and all these are interwoven with the cycles of yin and yang, and of the five elements. Zi Wu Liu Zhu is a way to understand the energetics resulting from this matrix of influences, and to create change by needling the five shu points.
The way to arrive at the shu points prescription is quite simple and basic. First, the dominant meridian of the day is identified, then the dominant time of needling. (Future installments will cover these aspects. Here we are only concerned with the principle of shu points prescription.) For example, on the day of Jia 甲 (1st heavenly stem, pertaining to yang wood), the Gallbladder meridian is dominant. Those who are familiar with the meridian clock already know the dominant time is 11 PM to 1 AM. The first point to be needled is always the jing-well point of the dominant meridian, i.e., GB44, the Metal point of the GB meridian. From there, we just follow the five element generating cycle to arrive at the next meridian and point. Wood generates fire so the second point will be from a fire element meridian. Since the day of Jia 甲 pertains to yang wood all our points will be from yang meridians for this prescription. The second meridian is therefore Small Intestine (yang Fire). Since Metal (GB44 Metal point) generates Water, the second point is therefore the Water point of the SI meridian – SI2. Fire generates Earth so the third meridian will be yang Earth – Stomach meridian. Water generates Wood so the third point will the the Wood point of the ST meridian – ST 43. Earth generates Metal so the fourth meridian is yang Metal – Large Intestine. Wood generates Fire so the fourth point is the Fire point of the LI meridian – LI5. The fifth point will be the Earth point of yang Water – UB40.
So, the Zi Wu Liu Zhu prescription for the day of jia is:
GB44, SI2, ST43, LI5, & UB40
This is Zi Wu Liu Zhu in a nutshell. In actual practice, there are substitutions and additions to the formula which we’ll discuss in future posts.