Acupuncture Continuing Education

Acupuncture For Insomnia

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Sample #1

Prevalent Acupoints

Sleep disturbances often involve the heart, spleen, liver, or kidneys. The following acupuncture point combinations are both common and effective for the treatment of insomnia. Let’s start with a review of these common point combinations and then take a closer look at differential diagnostics and then findings from modern research.

Sishencong (M-HN-1)
Sishencong is translated as four alert spirit. These are the four points at the vertex of the scalp, located 1 cun anterior, posterior, and lateral to DU20. This set of points calms the spirit, pacifies wind, and benefits both the ears and eyes. Sishencong is effective for benefitting the brain and for the treatment of insomnia, headaches, vertigo, poor memory, and epilepsy.

HT7 (Shenmen), HT5 (Tongli), PC6 (Neiguan), PC7 (Daling), DU20 (Baihui)
This acupoint combination nourishes the heart and shen (spirit). This is a great treatment for insomnia, palpitations, or heart arrhythmias. This acupoint prescription is beneficial to patients wherein qi and blood deficiency creates insufficient nourishment to the heart. It is also beneficial to patients wherein sudden fright causes...

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Sample #2

Yangqiao Channel

Insomnia is a Yangqiao channel related disorder. This channel is also known as the Yang Heel channel or the Yang Motility vessel. It is one of the 8 extra channels. The channel runs along the lateral aspect of the body, from the heel to the head. The channel terminates at the brain, giving it an important role in the treatment of insomnia, nervousness, and epilepsy. Terminating at the brain lends to its usefulness for the treatment of insomnia, particularly in cases of excess when the pulse is wiry. One way to access the Yangqiao channel is to needle its confluent point, BL62 (Shenmai), which is located in the depression directly below the external malleolus.

BL62 (Shenmai)

BL62 (Shenmai) is both the origin of the Yangqiao channel and the confluent point of the channel. BL62 is a Sun Si-Miao Ghost point. BL62 calms the spirit, benefits the head and eyes, regulates the Yangqiao channel, relaxes the muscle channels, quells internal wind, and expels exterior wind. BL62 is used for the treatment of insomnia, palpitations, mania, depression, fright, headaches, seizures, epilepsy, lower back pain, and neck pain.


The Yangqiao channel enters the brain at DU16 (Fengfu), which is a Sea of Marrow, Window of Heaven, and a Sun Si-miao Ghost point. This acupoint is significant for patients with insomnia because it calms the spirit. DU16 is located on the midline of the nape of the neck, in a depression below the external occipital protuberance. Safety note: deep perpendicular or superior oblique needling is never applied because…

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Sample #3

Foot Acupuncture

Researchers find a specialized acupuncture point prescription highly effective for the treatment of insomnia. Researchers at the China PLA Navy General Hospital determined that Wuhua foot  acupuncture combined with body style acupuncture has a 95.24% total effective rate for the treatment of insomnia. Using shallow needling depths, the results were clinically significant. The researchers conclude that the foot Wuhua and body style acupuncture protocol is effective for the alleviate of sleep disturbances.

Wuhua foot acupuncture differs from standard foot acupuncture. In standard foot acupuncture, for example, three powerful and important acupoints for the treatment of insomnia are located on the bottom of the foot. One important point is located on the bottom of the foot at the midpoint between the medial and lateral malleoli. This acupoint is indicated for the treatment of neurasthenia, hysteria, insomnia, and low blood pressure. Its sedative effects are often remarkably effective. This is foot acupuncture point #1. Another acupoint for the treatment of insomnia is located on the bottom of the foot, 5 units (cun) distal to the heel on the midline. This is foot acupuncture point #4. This is complemented by a third acupoint that is located on the bottom of the foot, 5 units distal to the heel and 1 unit lateral to the midline...

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Sample #4

Insomnia and GABA

Acupuncture is an effective treatment for the relief of insomnia. Two independent research teams from the Heilongjiang University of Chinese Medicine found acupuncture over 90% effective for the treatment of insomnia. In addition, Li et al. found an important biochemical basis for the efficaciousness of acupuncture in the treatment of insomnia.

Li et al. conducted an investigation and determined that acupuncture increases biochemical concentrations that benefit sleep. Acupuncture increases the concentration of gama-aminobutyric acid (GABA) in cerebrospinal fluid and increases bodily serotonin (5-HT) levels. Serotonin is involved in the regulation of many bodily functions including appetite, cognitive function, mood, and sleep. GABA is a neurotransmitter that produces inhibitory responses to postsynaptic neurons in the adult brain.

In one of two recent investigations at the Heilongjiang University of Chinese Medicine, researchers tested two acupuncture insomnia treatment protocols. One protocol, called Tiao Shen, achieved a 93.3% total effective rate for the treatment of insomnia. The second treatment protocol, a standardized form of body style acupuncture, achieved a 73.3% total effective rate. Sixty patients were randomized into two equal groups in a semi-protocolized trial.

Group one received the Tiao Shen protocol. Primary body style acupuncture points included:

  • DU24, Shenting

  • HT7, Shenmen

  • ST36, Zusanli

  • SP6, Sanyinjiao

  • DU16, Fengfu

  • GB13, Benshen

  • Yintang

  • Sishencong

  • Anmian

Supplementary acupuncture points were added based on differential diagnostics to the following…

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