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Massage Today
September, 2001, Vol. 01, Issue 09

I'll Have a Mu-Shu Combo

By Barbra Esher, AOBTA CI. Dipl. ABT & Ac. (NCCAOM), LAc

Does the above title remind you of a Chinese restaurant's lunch special, or the powerful mu-shu Asian bodywork technique? Maybe both, but in this month's article, I'll concentrate on the latter (egg roll and soup not included!).

Last column, I discussed the back shu points; in particular, the connection of the outer shu point with the five souls. (Editor's note: See "The Soul of Your Shus" in the July 2001 MT, available on line at A way of making your treatment more potent using the shu points is to combine them with the front mu points. The combination of mu points with shu points enhances therapeutic results, providing a particularly strong treatment.

The mu points, called bo points in Japanese, are translated as collecting or alarm points, respectively. The name describes their function, in that qi tends to "collect" in the area of the points. They are located mostly on the chest and abdomen.

The mu points tend to be used more for treatment of acute conditions, but when combined with the shu points, they also can address chronic problems. The mu points can be used for assessment, in that if they appear tender spontaneously or with palpation, it is an indication that there is a problem in their associated Organ's orb of influence. I regularly check the mu points when I am working with someone, sometimes getting an, "Ow, what is that!" from my client. I then explain that particular mu points correlate physically and mentally, to which my client usually responds, "Well, that makes sense." Try it -- your client will think you have mystical powers!

Sometimes the mu points are sore without even touching them, indicating that treatment is necessary. For example, it is not at all surprising for a particularly irritable client to report pain on the rib cage, directly below the breast. The mu that is located there corresponds with the Liver (relating to anger), which becomes somaticized in that area.

To learn how to locate these points, reference the chart of the shu points from my last article in MT and use it together with the mu point diagram below. (Consider buying a copy of the Acu-Coloring Book as a learning tool and reference.) Get someone to plop down on your table or mat, clothes-on preferred.

Sit at the client's right side and put your left index and third fingers on the Lung shu, lateral to T-3, and your right index or third finger on the Lung mu, Lu1, about one inch below the acromio-clavicular joint. This combination can tonify the Lungs as well as eliminate external pathogenic factors, such as Wind-Cold or Wind-Heat. On an emotional level, this combination can be very powerful for helping to "let go."

Move down one vertebra with your left hand to T-4, the Pericardium shu, and move your right hand to the Pericardium mu, Ren17, on the sternum between the nipples. This combination is used to tonify and/or move qi in the chest. It is also indicated for use when there are warmth or intimacy issues in relationships.

Front <em>mu</em> points. - Copyright – Stock Photo / Register Mark Front mu points. Reprinted with permission from The Acu-Coloring Book ©1998, by Loren Nelson, (619) 280-7786. Go down to the Heart shu, lateral to T-5, and move your hand straight down to the Heart mu, Ren14, ¼th of the way between the xiphoid process and the navel. Use this combination for any issues relating to the Heart, such as insomnia. If a person is anxious, this will help soothe the mind and spirit.

Skip 3 vertebrae to get to the Liver shu beside T-9, and combine it with the Liver mu at the 6th intercostal space, Lv14, directly below the nipple line. Here we are with that irritable client again! Be aware that this combination can initially make the client angrier. You may find it helpful in moving Liver qi, resolving stagnation, particularly when the Wood/Liver is overacting on the Earth/Stomach, causing morning sickness, belching and/or a sour taste in the mouth.

You'll find the Gall Bladder shu beside T-10 and it's corresponding mu, one intercostal space below the Liver mu at GB24. This combination has a similar action as the Liver one because of the Liver/ Gall Bladder's close relationship.

Move your left hand down to the Spleen shu, next to T-11 and then your right hand to its mu at the tip of the 11th rib, Lv13. This is an excellent combination to tonify the Spleen, and it can also help harmonize the Liver and Spleen.

The Stomach shu is beside T-12 and its mu is on the midline, halfway between the xiphoid process and the navel. This is my absolutely favorite combination to tonify Stomach qi and/or yin. It is also excellent for resolving Dampness, as it tonifies the Spleen, supporting its function of transportation and transportation of Fluids. Keep this in mind when you see signs of Dampness, such as heaviness in the limbs or a cloying headache with a heavy, muzzy feeling.

Go down to the Triple Heater shu beside L-1, and combine it with the TH mu about an inch below the navel, Ren 5. You'll find that this combo treats any Damp-Heat in the Lower Burner condition, such as edema in the legs and urinary problems.

Continue to the Kidney shu beside L-2. I find that when I hold the Kidney mu-shu combo, I have to switch my hands so that my left index and third finger are on the tip of the 12th rib, GB25, and the right heel of my hand and fingers press the Kidney shu points bilaterally beside L-2. Do whatever is comfortable for you. The emotion connected with the Kidneys is fear, so you may find there are some of these issues surrounding this area. You'll find that these points will help stimulate the spirit of initiative, resolving fear that may be holding your client back.

Skip a vertebra to get to the Large Intestine shu, which you can hold bilaterally in a similar way you did with the Kidneys. Hold the Large Intestine shu with the LI mu points, grasping them with your thumb and index finger beside the navel at St25. Not only will this mu-shu combo promote the function of the Large Intestine, it will also encourage the client to let go of the "waste" in his or her life!

Move your hand down beside S-1 to the Small Intestine shu and hold it with the SI mu, Ren4, 3/5ths of the way down from the navel. Even though I use Ren4 a lot more for tonifying yin, Blood and yang, when used in conjunction with the Small Intestine shu, it also helps support the SI function of separating "the pure from the impure." So if you have someone who is trying to "sort stuff out," this may be a good place to start.

The last shu is at S-2 and corresponds with the Bladder. Combine it with the Bl mu at Ren3, directly below Ren 4. I find this extremely useful in clients with Damp Heat in the Bladder, showing symptoms such as pain and difficulty on urination and an interrupted flow of urine.

I think you will find that even just locating these mu-shu combos, holding each set for a couple of minutes, you will have a relaxing, centering and balancing effect. There is no reason why you can't use this technique in any type of massage or bodywork treatment. Once you really grasp how to use them on a deep level, you have the extraordinary power of qi at your fingertips.

Learn More!

For a list of schools that offer programs in ABT, go to For information on the national ABT exam, go to

Click here for previous articles by Barbra Esher, AOBTA CI. Dipl. ABT & Ac. (NCCAOM), LAc.


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