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 QiST 9, CV 17, GV 15, GV 14
Sea of BloodUB 11, ST 37, ST 39
Sea of Water & GrainST 30 (upper point), ST 36 (lower point)
Sea of MarrowGV 20, GV 16

There Are (11) Four Seas Acupuncture Points

GraphicPointClinical Functions

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UB 11
  • Wind disorders.
  • Hui-meeting point of the bones, useful with any bone or problem such as osteoporosis, arthritis, inflammation, sensation of heat in the bones, etc.
  • Useful adjunctive point to effect the lungs in cases of infections, colds a/or flus or asthma related conditions.
  • Sea of Blood Point with ST 37 & ST 39. According to the Ling Shu Treatise on the Seas, "when the Sea of blood is full, the patient has the sensation that his body is bigger than it is. One feels uneasy, and does not know the disease; when the Sea of blood is insufficient, one often feels the body is small, one feels uneasy and does not know the disease." May be useful for leukemia, anemia, said to tonify the bone marrow.
ST 9
  • In ancient times the ST Qi was assessed by palpating the pulse here and at ST 42.
  • Regulation of Blood Pressure - lowering high blood pressure.
  • Headache, dizziness.
  • Sore throat, counterflow qi (vomiting), coughing, hiccups.
  • Acute lumbar sprain, lower back pain.
  • Window of the Sky Point - restores Qi flow between the body and the head - useful with headache, chest tightness, asthma.
  • Tong Ren/Tam Healing System: Used to effect the common carotid artery. With acupuncture and tuina we often use LI 18 instead as it is safer, for Tong Ren and light tuina, however, it is fine to use. 
  • Falls into the category of Window of the Sky points within the Tam Healing system.
ST 30
  • Upper Sea of Water & Grain Point - excess or deficient conditions of the Stomach - hypogastric pain, bloating, abdominal pain.
  • Regulates the Intestines - borborygmus, hernia - rectal, inguinal.
  • Regulates genitalia - swelling and pain, impotence.
  • Regulates menstruation - irregular menstruation, dysmenorrhea, amenorrhea, uterine bleeding.
  • Running Piglet Disorder.
ST 36
  • Tonify deficient Qi a/or Blood.
  • Tonify Wei Qi and Qi overall - low immunity, chronic illness, poor digestion, general weakness, particularly with moxibustion, very important acupuncture point for building and maintaining overall health.
  • All issues involving the Stomach a/or the Spleen - abdominal/epigastric pain, borborygmus, bloating, nausea, vomiting, GERD, hiccups, diarrhea, constipation, etc.
  • Clear disorders along the course of the channel - breast problems, lower leg pain.
  • Earth as the mother of Metal - will support Lung function in cases of asthma, wheezing, dyspnea.
  • Psychological/Emotional disorders - PMS, depression, nervousness, insomnia.
ST 37
  • Generally for excess and more acute disorders of the intestines and digestive system involving dampness and/or heat - diarrhea, dysentary, boborygmus, abdominal pain, bloating, distention, constipation.
  • Sea of Blood Point - if excess the patient may have feelings of largeness, whereas, if deficient the patient may feel small.
ST 39
  • Disorders of the Small Intestine organ - abdominal pain, diarrhea, dysentary.
  • SI channel problems - breast issues, mastitis, pain/swelling/numbness along channel.
  • Local point for lower leg issues - pain, numbness, motor control, atrophy.

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CV 17
  • Main point for tonification of the upper warmer.
  • Hui Meeting Point of the Qi - tonify and move the Qi of the body.
  • Chronic lung issues - cough, asthma, SOB, diaphragmatic pain.
  • Breast issues - insufficient lactation, mastitis.
  • Chest/Throat issues (rattling in throat w/asthma, difficulty swallowing, palpitations), counterflow Qi problems - guides the Qi downwards.
  • Tong Ren/Tam Healing System: Important point for overall Qi (energy) in the body, useful for asthma.  

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GV 14
  • Meeting point of all yang meridians, GV 14 is indicated for exterior conditions as it expels pathogens and firms the yang; clearing heat and fevers whether mild or severe; and for tonifying the yang and strengthening the neck and spine.
  • Main point for acute wind cold or wind heat, colds and flu, especially with fever and chills, opens the pores to cause sweating. If a patient with underlying deficiency presents with chills and no fever use moxa.
  • Main point for reducing high fevers, combine with LU 11, UB 40 (can bleed these points). Main point for summer heat.
  • Cough, asthma.
  • Main point for spontaneous sweating from qi deficiency or night sweats from yin deficiency.
  • Main point for neck and upper back pain and stiffness, combine with GB 20, UB 10, UB 11, UB 12, Bailao, SI 12, SI 13, etc. As the tissue is often thick here, insert slowly and use mild manipulation, then redirect needle towards each shoulder using oblique insertion.
  • Strengthens the wei qi, wind cold can enter the body through the triangle formed by GV 14 and UB 12. Keep this area warm, supple and flexible with needle, moxa, massage to promote longevity.
  • Epilepsy, hypertension, insomnia, nosebleed.
  • Tong Ren/Tam Healing System: Used for bone issues (arthritis, spurs, scoliosis), calcium issues, hand issues.  

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GV 15
  • Opens the orifices refers to the mouth, throat and tongue, for throat swelling, hoarseness, post-stroke speech disorders, important point for muteness due to tongue stiffness or vocal cord disorders.
  • Epilepsy, stroke, manic depression, loss of consciousness.
  • Occipital headaches, especially with neck stiffness, upper cervical pain and restricted neck rotation, heaviness of head - GV 15 lies over the space between C1 and C2, and can help release the suboccipital musculature which compresses the atlanto-occipital joint.
  • Tong Ren/Tam Healing System: Used to stimulate the medulla and limbic system, useful for emotional issues.  

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GV 16
  • Main point for wind, whether exterior or interior, particularly affecting the head and neck. For wind cold headache, stiff neck, aversion to wind; as well as dizziness, visual dizziness, numbness, twitching, tremors.
  • Window of the Sky point, promotes communication between the head and body, many indications are consistient with other points of this group, such as headache, dizziness, throat swelling, earache, eye pain, nosebleeds, aphasia.
  • Psychological issues such as mania, palpitations from fear a/or fright, suicidal thoughts.
  • Tong Ren/Tam Healing System: Used to effect the medulla function (breathing issues, asthma, tight chest, etc.), but GV 17 is used more frequently, useful in spinal cord issues.  

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GV 20
  • Main point for headache, dizziness, eye pain and redness, irritability, hypertension from excess yang in the upper body, often occuring with patterns of excess Liver yang or Liver fire. Combine with lower body points such as LV 2, LV 3, KD 1, GB 34, GB 41.
  • Main point for internal wind which has some overlapping indications with the above entry, for headaches, dizziness, visual dizziness, tinnitus, vertex pain, windstroke, seizures.
  • Main point for prolapse, anal, uterine, vaginal; main point for hemorrhoids.
  • Tong Ren/Tam Healing System: Used to effect the association area (related to emotions, memory, behavior), useful for low energy, yang energy imbalances, parkinson's, alzheimer's, motor control issues.