TCM Acupuncture Theory - Four Seas Points

Traditional Chinese Medicine utilizies a number of theories which group acupuncture points together based on their functions and/or other relationships. Many of these theories are important in a clinical setting and are used, along with other theory and diagnostic information, to decide which acupuncture points will be used for a given condition.

Below you find information regarding the four seas points. See our Acupuncture Point Categories section for a complete list of point categories.

For complete information about a single point, click on it within the chart.


Four Seas Points Theory and Applications

  • The Four Seas are point groupings which have a strong effect on their related system within the body (i.e. qi, blood, marrow, digestion).
  • The Sea of Qi Points (ST 9, CV 17, GV 15, GV 14) effect the amount and flow of Qi (energy) within the body. A person with excess Qi may experience problems of an excess nature in the upper body (headache, red face, fullness in the chest, etc.). A person with Qi deficiency may experience problems with fatigue, weakness, shortness of breath, etc.
  • The Sea of Blood Points (UB 11, ST 37, ST 39) effect the amount and flow of Blood (which constitutes more than the western idea of blood) within the body. Excesses in the Blood, according to the classics, may make someone feel larger than they are and make them aware of a subtle illness or imbalance within their body. Blood excess is not a primary diagnosis in TCM, whereas Blood stagnation is. Blood deficiency may lead to a variety of issues within a person such as dizziness, dryness, thinking problems, etc. Again, according to the classics, Blood deficiency may make someone feel smaller than they are, however, this doesn't seem to be a common complaint in modern clinical practice. For Blood issues, points such as UB 17, UB 18, UB 19, SP 10 and LV 8 are much more widely used.
  • The Sea of Water and Grain Points (ST 30, ST 36) effect digestion and appetite.
  • The Sea of Marrow Points (GV 20, GV 16) effect mental functioning and energy levels. When deficient a person may experience fatigue, tinnitus, weakness in the lower limbs, etc.

Four Seas Points Chart

Sea of Qi ST 9, CV 17, GV 15, GV 14
Sea of Blood UB 11, ST 37, ST 39
Sea of Water & Grain ST 30 (upper point), ST 36 (lower point)
Sea of Marrow GV 20, GV 16

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:

  • Hartstein, Rachel: New England School of Acupuncture, Actions & Effects Lecture Notes
  • LaBruzzo, Cynthia: New England School of Acupuncture, TCM Theory Lecture Notes