More research on one of my favorite acupuncture points

More research on one of my favorite acupuncture points

ST 36

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Stomach 36 (ST36)

Chinese name: Zusanli

Location: On the anterior aspect of the lower leg, 3 cun (approximately 3 inches) below ST35 about one finger-breadth from the anterior crest of the tibia.

Indications: Gastric pain, vomiting, dysphagia, abdominal distention, borborygmus, diarrhea, indigestion, dysentery, constipation, abdominal pain, low energy, poor appetite

Common point with powerful effects

Probably most of you have experienced the acupuncture point Stomach 36 (Zusanli) before as it is one of the most commonly used points to increase energy and improve digestion (it’s located below the knee on the lateral side of the leg). If you’ve seen me for treatment, then you probably have as I use it on most people for a variety of purposes. After this point is needled, patients will often feel and hear their stomach gurgling. This is because ST36 is located along the stomach meridian and has a strong effect on gastric motility and secretion. It’s especially good to get your digestion moving after eating a big meal like thanksgiving dinner!


A lot research has been done on this point, and the latest study has yet again demonstrated the effectiveness of it on digestive activity.

Researchers evaluated the effects of ST36 (electro-acupuncture) on gastric motility following colorectal surgery. Typically gastric motility is impaired after colorectal surgery and it’s important to get the intestines moving again as soon as possible. This study demonstrated that ST36 can be used as an effective method to induce intestinal movement after surgery.

A group of forty patients undergoing surgery to remove cancerous colorectal tumours were involved in the study. The patients were divided into two groups – those who received electro-acupuncture at ST36 and those who did not. The group receiving the treatment showed a significantly faster recovery of gastro-intestinal movement compared to those who did not receive treatment.

Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) has documented the effects of ST36 on digestion for thousands of years and I have seen it myself many times when treating patients for digestive disorders. It’s an amazing point which many practical applications. It’s always nice when science validates what TCM has known all along. I’m happy to see science catching up!


Reference: Zhaodi Zhang, Changsong Wang, Quanyi Li, Mingyue Zhang, Haifang Zhao, Linlin Dong, Guonian Wang, et al. (2014). Electroacupuncture at ST36 accelerates the recovery of gastrointestinal motility after colorectal surgery: a randomised controlled trial. Acupuncture in Medicine. doi:10.1136/acupmed-2013-010490