Acupuncture Point Contraindications and Precautions

Acupuncture is a safe and effective form of medicine. Complications from the clinical application of acupuncture are extremely rare and side effects, if any, are limited. There are a number of guidelines, however, which govern the use of particular acupuncture points. A precaution may be related to use in certain conditions, with particular techniques, or because of a points location. We have listed the commonly accepted contraindications and precautions below.

Note:  It is worth noting that these are general guidelines and there are cases, techniques a/or styles of acupuncture where a practitioner may still use a point or technique even if it is listed here as a precaution.

Complete List of Precautions by Meridian

Meridian/Point
Contraindication
 
Meridian/Point
Contraindication
Lung - LU     Large Intestine - LI  
LU 1 NDN Toward Sternum   LI 1 No Moxa
LU 2 NDN Toward Sternum   LI 4 No Moxa, No Needle in PG
LU 3 No Moxa   LI 13 AA
LU 5 No Moxa   LI 19 No Moxa
LU 9 AA   LI 20 No Moxa
LU 11 No Moxa      
    top    
Pericardium - PC     Triple Heater - TH  
PC 1 NDN   TH 19 AA, No Bleeding
      TH 22 AA
      TH 23 No Moxa
    top    
Heart - HT     Small Intestine - SI  
HT 1 AA   SI 18 No Moxa
    top    
Spleen - SP     Stomach - ST  
SP 6 No Needle in PG   ST 1 No Moxa, Slow Insertion, No Manipulation
SP 12 AA   ST 2 No Moxa, NDN
      ST 5 AA
      ST 8 No Moxa
      ST 9 No Moxa, AA, NDN
      ST 12 AA, NDN
      ST 13 thru ST 18 Oblique Insert Only
      ST 17 No Needle (landmark only), No Moxa
      ST 42 AA
    top    
Liver - LV     Gall Bladder - GB  
LV 12 No Needle   GB 1 No Moxa
LV 14 NDN   GB 3 NDN
      GB 9 No Moxa
      GB 21 No Needle in PG, No Needle w/history of heart disease
      GB 22 No Moxa
      GB 33 No Moxa
      GB 42 No Moxa
    top    
KD     UB  
KD 21 NDN, Avoid Liver on Right Side   UB 1 No Moxa, Slow Insertion, No Manipulation
KD 22 NDN, Avoid Heart   UB 2 No Moxa
KD 23 thru KD 27 NDN, Needle Obliquely   UB 3 No Moxa
      UB 6 No Moxa
      UB 8 No Moxa
      UB 10 No Moxa
      UB 30 No Moxa
      UB 31, 32, 33 & UB 34 No Needle in PG
      UB 40 No Moxa, not even pole
      UB 67 No Moxa, except to turn breech
    top    
Conception Vessel - CV     Governing Vessel - GV  
CV 2 thru CV 7 NDN in PG & NPN in advanced PG   GV 4 No Moxa in males under 20
CV 8 No Needle   GV 6 No Moxa
CV 9 thru CV 15 NPN in advanced PG   GV 15 NDN, No Moxa
      GV 16 NDN, No Moxa
      GV 22 & GV 23 No Moxa, No Needle in infants with metopism
      GV 25 No Moxa
      GV 26 No Moxa
      GV 27 No Moxa
      GV 28 No Moxa


Precautions for Pregnancy

LI 4, SP 6, GB 21
UB 31 thru UB 34
CV 2 thru CV 7 (NDN in PG, NPN in advanced PG) & CV 9 - CV 15 (NPN in advanced PG)


Precautions for Moxa

LU 3, 5, 8, 11
LI 1, 4, 19, 20
TH 23
SI 18
ST 1, 2, 8, 9
GB 1, 9, 22, 33, 42
UB 1, 2, 3, 6, 8, 10, 30, 40, 67
GV 4 (in males under 20), GV 6, 15, 16, 22, 23, 25, 26, 27, 28


Precautions for Ateries

LU 8, LU 9
LI 13
TH 19, TH 22
HT 1
SP 12
ST 5, ST 9, ST 12, ST 42


Sources and resources for further study

There are many resources which discuss acupuncture and chinese medicine at varying levels. Our research section includes a comprehensive list of the main texts and websites related to chinese medicine. Below are the sources that were used for this section:

  • Ferro, Barbara: New England School of Acupuncture, Point Location I and II Lecture Notes
  • LaBruzzo, Cynthia: New England School of Acupuncture, TCM Theory Lecture Notes