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Dr.Jin's Acu-Reflex Therapy
Dr.Jin's Acu-Reflex Therapy

In modern clinical acupuncture, many alternative names of acupoints are proposed to describe the properties of acupoints or stimulation locations. These include reflex points, reaction points, sensitive points, tender spots, electro-permeable points, as well as trigger points. They often appear in miscellaneous articles, reports, or textbooks, but their definitions are generally vague and may confuse the readers.

Strictly speaking, those locations on the body surface with a detectable response due to reflective mechanisms are simply called reflex points, which can also be referred as reaction points. However, the name of reaction points is overemphasized in the regional responses or reactions and it does not indicate the mechanisms of reflex. Tender spots are used to represent reflex points that mainly have regional tenderness. Regional reactions of reflex points may manifest in other forms, such as low electrical resistance of the skin. Accordingly, reflex points may also be called electro-permeable points. Those with miscellaneous reactions or hypersensitivity are also called sensitive points. Trigger points is widely known in the West. According to the definition, trigger points are located on the hypersensitive regions in soft tissues, especially muscles, where there is tenderness or referred tingling, numbness, burning, or itching sensations upon pressing. In these descriptions, reflex points are the most appropriate in expressing reflective connections between certain locations on the body surface with corresponding viscera or other tissues. The reflex zone is composed of reflex points that possess similar reflective connections and are closely distributed, even merged into clusters.

Whether reflex zones are in the micro regions or the whole body, their formation possesses both characteristics of precise localization and vague diffusion, which may be resulted from accurate reflex and vague reflex, respectively. The vague reflex is also known as diffusible reflex. Because of the diffusible reflex, be cautious when using micro or whole body reflex zones to diagnose diseases. In addition, it might be just the reason for the relative specificity in actions of acupoints.

Hinted from the notion of diffusible reflex, it is more important to learn and understand distribution rules of reflex zones rather than memorizing their precise territories. For example, a relatively trustworthy rule for auricular visceral reflex zones are that they may be distributed at the concaved areas, but their exact territory may vary. Remember, those descriptions or atlases about the distribution of auricular points are merely empirical conclusions from some practitioners, thus they often differ in different texts. Until now, no convincing scientific evidences about them have been provided.

The adoption of the term reflex zones instead of the meridians has many advantages in at least the following aspects.

a.    It may rationally categorize and clarify main efficacies of acupoints located on the entire body surface, and simplify the complex meridian system. Distribution of reflex zones is regular and easily identified, as well as corresponds to the anatomical terms in contemporary medicine.

b.    It develops concepts that an acupoint is not a spot but an area and that a meridian is not a line but a zone. In addition, it provides an approximate range in locating reflex points quickly. 

c.    It may demystify the hypothesis of homotherapy with heteromeridian and heterotherapy with homomeridian and the notion about the meeting points.

d.    It discards certain fictions of the meridian theory, such as the notion that LI and SI distributed on the upper limb are obviously mistaken because reflex zones for both large and small intestines are distributed on the lower limb instead of the upper limb.

The meridians or reflex zones are formed within the period of evolution of animals. It has been observed that not only in humans, but also in many other mammals, such as dogs, cats, horse, ox, and monkeys, similar meridian phenomena can occur, and reflex zones are distributed at their body surface.


From the perspective of close kinship, during the long process of evolution into humans, the primitives had to battle dangerous creatures on the earth and become accustomed to the ever-changing external environment. If there were no sets of complete regulatory systems within their bodies to adjust internal functional changes to adapt to the external environment, they simply would not survive. Instead, they would eventually follow the paths of those organisms in nature that have been extinct. Neural and humoral regulations are known to be two of the most important regulatory systems within the body. However, besides these two highly developed mechanisms, there might be the third primitive regulatory mechanism associated with them within the body.


The meridians or reflex zones distributed across the body surface and their pathways connected internal parts of the body may pertain to the third regulatory mechanism, which acts as the a shield against external stimulation. Its regulatory role is achieved mainly through the mechanism of altering thresholds of related pathways, which can minimize the amount of external nociceptive stimulation entering the body. During the process of receiving external stimulation and reflecting internal activities, not every part of the body surface is influenced in the same way. Instead, some regions are easier to receive external hits or other impacts than others. Accordingly, with a long process of evolution, average thresholds of networks connecting to certain regions on the body surface might have increased, while those connecting to other regions might have decreased, which presents certain patterns of changes. This is the formation process of whole body reflex zone with certain distribution patterns, or the 14 meridians.

The notion of whole body reflex zones has vividly presented the essence of meridians, namely, as a reflective functional connection of the body. The meridian system is a primitive description about the reflective system, while the traveling courses of the meridians on the body surface are merely a close resemblance of whole body reflex zones. Whole body reflex zones are constructed with a series of pathological and physiological reflex points, which can be just at the locations of acupoints or extraordinary points, or out of the meridians completely. Their territories may vary depending on changes of diseased conditions or individual differences of patients. Whole body reflex zones not only have fully inherited the core of classical meridian system, but also have made a series of innovations.

Somatic reflex zones are distributed continuously on the entire body surface besides those reciprocal reflexes of corresponding areas between the bilateral sides, between the upper and lower parts, and between the chest and back on the body surface. They may be longitudinally divided into three sub-zones: the anterior, lateral, and posterior zones.


There are three distribution rules for visceral reflex zones. First, they lodge on the dorsal and ventral aspects of the trunk next to viscera. Second, they are mainly at the yin side of the extremities, i.e., the medial side of the upper arm and the anteromedial side of the lower limb. Third, reflex zones for those viscera above diaphragm (lung, heart and small parts of the stomach) are at the medial side of the upper limb, while that for those viscera below the diaphragm (large parts of the stomach, intestine, liver, spleen, gallbladder, kidney, urinary bladder, and genitalia) are at the anteromedial side of the lower limb. Visceral reflex zones can be further classified into six subzones: lungs, intestine, heart, urogenital system, stomach, and liver/gallbladder/spleen/pancreas.


There are two distribution rules for central reflex zones. First, they are distributed at the nearest locations to the brain and spinal cord, mainly on the head, midlines of the dorsal and ventral sides of trunk. Second, central reflex zones are located at the boundaries (called border zones) of the dorsal and ventral sides of trunk and yin-yang sides of the extremities, especially those potions below the elbows and knees.

During past few decades, a series of new terms have been proposed to describe the zoning characteristics of acupoint distribution. One of the most influential is the concept of point zoning proposed by researchers at Medical University of Shanxi, China, in 1974. Through investigating pathological sensitive spots on the body surface and analyzing efficacies of acupuncture points, thirty-five point zonings, which are distributed across the entire body, were summarized. They were used to direct clinical acupuncture successfully, and made great contributions to the modernization of acupuncture therapy. However, the proposal of point zonings has distinct weaknesses. The classification of point zonings is not superior to that of the meridian system because it does not discover ultimate distribution rules in sorting efficacies of acupoints or new points. Moreover, the concept of point zonings only describes the property of the meridians being band-shaped, but does not reveal any essence of the meridians, and it is disassociated with the meridian theory. Therefore, it is merely a summary of practical experience at best, but unable to be advanced into a new theory to inherit and develop the meridian theory completely. Because acupoint or reflex point is actually the location on the body surface outputting internal information and inputting treatment information from acupuncture, in 1976, we proposed the concept of information zones to substitute the meridians by creating a simplified model, and illustrated an atlas about three main types of information zones. For the past three decades, the concept of information zones has been developed to a complete theory about the distribution rules of acupuncture points that has extensive clinical applications. However, in order to comply with the international standard and easily to integrate it into the mainstream of contemporary medicine, since 1998, we have further adopted the term of reflex, which is commonly recognized and applied in physiology, to rename  the information zone as reflex zone or whole body reflex zones. Meanwhile, a color atlas of the whole body reflex zones has replaced the preliminary atlas of information zones.  

Whole body reflex zones (or macro reflex zones) are proposed to describe reflex zones distributed on the entire body surface.


They are categorized into three main types of reflex zones: visceral, somatic, and central. They contain all acupoints of classical 14 meridians, extraordinary points, and most newly discovered points, but do not include micro reflex zones or points used by various micro acupuncture therapies, such as auricular acupuncture, hand acupuncture, foot acupuncture, facial acupuncture, nose acupuncture, eye acupuncture, scalp acupuncture, tongue acupuncture, and wrist-ankle acupuncture. These two types of reflex zones, micro and macro reflex zones complement each other from certain parts of the body to the whole body surface. Thus, do not confuse the concept of whole body reflex zones proposed in this book with the concept of micro reflex zones proposed by other texts, where those zones only lodge at certain regions of the body, such as the hands, feet, and ears.

What is the definition and scope of acu-reflexology?

To propose the novel theory of acu-reflexology, Dr. Jin spent almost 40 years in actively researching and applying to clinical studies.


Acu-reflexology is best defined as the theory and techniques of acupuncture directed by reflex theory, which is the core of contemporary medical acupuncture.

For many years, the term reflexology has been used to describe a zone therapy by finger pressure techniques at the feet and the hands. Actually, it is one kind of massage therapy based on the premise that there are reciprocal reflexes on different parts of the body, such as certain reflex zones emerging on the feet and hands corresponded to other parts, glands, and organs of the body. The reason we coined a new term “acu-reflexology” from the integration of terms “reflexology” and “acupuncture” is because both acupuncture and reflexology have the same rational core: reflex. The theory and techniques of acupuncture can be considered as a generalized reflexology. Nevertheless, stimulation means of acupuncture is not limited on the finger pressure, and stimulation locations of acupuncture are not only at the feet and hands. Instead, acupuncture including needling and moxibustion can be applied on the entire body surface where the meridian system or whole body reflex zones (WBRZ) lodge. Thus, the contents of acu-reflexology are much broader and deeper than that of classical reflexology.