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Acu in Practice - 6 stages, level 1

Welcome to Acu in Practice! This week I would like to provide a brief introduction, or refresher, on the 6 Stages Model of Traditional Chinese Medicine. This diagnosis and treatment model can be especially useful for infectious and chronic inflammatory disease. In short, the model theorizes that disease begins on the most external level of the body where the immune system (Wei Qi) combats it and either wins by expelling the pathogen or allows the pathogen deeper into the next level. The deeper the pathogen or disease is allowed to go, the more difficult it is to diagnose and treat. In Western medicine, with chronic inflammatory disease where we are unable to pinpoint the exact pathogen or diagnosis, treatments are mainly aimed at controlling the symptoms. With Integrative Medicine, including the incorporation of Acupuncture and TCM, we have a chance to rid the pathogen despite being able to “find” or confirm the initial cause. In the best case scenario, herbs and acupuncture can be used to support the body and rid the pathogen at the outermost layer, the Tai Yang level. This is the exterior level where the pathogen first attacks and the body’s immune system, or Wei Qi, mounts a response.

The 6 Layers of the body according to the 6 stages model, from most external to deep, along with their associated acupuncture meridians:

1. Tai Yang – BL and SI

2. Yang Ming – LI and ST

3. Shao Yang – GB and TH

4. Tai Yin – LU and SP

5. Shao Yin – KID and HT

6. Jue Yin – PC and LIV

Good of Tai Yang level imbalance are the “common cold”/upper respiratory pathogen, fever of unknown origin in felines, and acute influenza in equines. Symptoms at this phase typically include: floating pulse, headache, stiffness, pain at the back of the neck, aversion to wind and cold, and in some cases the patient feels warm to the touch. The pathogen in TCM that is always involved at this level is Wind. Thus, while exact patient patterns may vary in regard to Heat and Cold, treatment principles will always include Expel Wind and fortify Wei Qi (immunity).

Acupuncture points and herbal formulas will vary with the individual patient, but some examples include:


BL 12 – expels Wind, influence on trachea

BL 13 – regulate coughing and breathing

BL 64, GB 20 – dispel Wind, eliminate fever

SI 3 and BL 62, separate or together – relieve muscle aches, expel wind

LI 4 – tonifies the Wei Qi, expels pathogens

ST 36 – harmonizes Wei and Ying Qi

A common herbal formula found to be helpful:

Cinnamon Twig Decoction – releases the exterior/expels pathogens. Regulates and Harmonizes Ying and Wei Qi to block the disease from penetrating deeper into the body.

Please tune in next Wednesday as we feature the next level, the Yang Ming, with diagnosis and treatment tips!

This post was created by Nell Ostermeier, DVM, CVA (IVAS) and is intended for informational use, not to replace medical advice.

A special thanks and reference to: THE SIX STAGE: A WAY TO UNDERSTAND TODAY’S CHRONIC DISEASES Cynthia J. Lankenau, DVM, RH (AHG), CVA, GDVCHM, ACCHVM


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