Acupuncture Meridians: Large Intestine

In Traditional Chinese Medicine, meridians are paths through which the life energy ‘qi’ and blood flows, connecting acupuncture points across the body.

Within the system there are 12 principal meridians which are divided into groups of yin and yang and pertain to interior organs as well as extending all over the surface of the body’s exterior, creating a network that links tissue and organs. It is a network which helps to maintain balance in the mind and body.

Each meridian has an external point along its pathway which has all the acupoints and an internal counterpart which connects to its pertaining organ. These meridians are spread bilaterally along the length of the body with the Yin meridians of the arm being the Lung, Heart, and Pericardium and the Yang meridians of the arm being the Large Intestine, Small Intestine, and Triple Burner. The Yin Meridians of the leg are the Spleen, Kidney, and Liver and the Yang meridians of the leg are Stomach, Bladder, and Gall Bladder.

Each meridian has a multitude of acupoints located in different areas of the body which is why in this series we will be systematically moving through each, detailing where the correlating acupoints are located and looking at how exactly they can help to balance the body.

In this piece we will be focusing on the large intestine acupuncture meridian, exploring all of its 20 acupuncture points and how they can help various ailments.

Large Intestine Acupuncture Meridian

LI 1

The first acupoint within the  Large Intestine Acupuncture meridian is located on the radial side of the index finger around 1 cun (cun being a traditional Chinese unit of length, dubbed the Chinese inch) from the base of the corner of the nail. The acupoint is utilised by acupuncturist to help in reviving those who have fainted, reducing fevers and calming the lungs when individuals are suffering from a sore throat. It can also be effective in calming the mind as well as relieving eye related symptoms caused by allergies.


This second acupoint is located in the depression of the radial side of the index finger, distal to the second metacarpal-phalangeal joint. This acupuncture point can be particularly effective in helping reduce the frequency of nosebleeds as well as helping them to subside.

Both LI1 and LI2 acupoints can be used effectively to clear heat caused by fevers as well as benefitting throat issues.


This point is located in the depression of the radial side of the index finger, proximal to the head of the second metacarpal bone. LI3 is often used by practitioners where the patient is suffering from localised arthritis, working to reduce the related symptoms.


This point is located on the back of the hand, between the first and second metacarpal bones but slightly closer to the second. This acupoint seeks to expel external pathogens during the initial stage of infections as well as being used to aid in subsiding the pain caused by headaches in any area of the head. In conjunction, LI4 is also used to aid with issues affecting the face whether that is the jaw, teeth, ears, nose, eyes, chin, cheeks etc. The stimulating of this point can help to move blood to relieve pain caused by poor blood flow. Those suffering with chronic constipation, diarrhoea, IBS and other gastrointestinal issues may also benefit from the use of this acupoint. On occasion, practitioners  will also use this acupoint to assist pregnant women induce labour at the end of their pregnancy.


Located in the triangular deepening on the radial, dorsal aspect of the hand, also referred to as the anatomical snuff box, this acupoint is used to expel external wind and clear heat in the body. It is great for acute pathogen issues such as headaches, toothaches, earaches, sore throats as well as red or swollen eyes. Those suffering from manic depression may also benefit from the stimulation of this acupuncture point.


This point is located 3 cun above LI5 and is on the line between LI5 and LI11. It is used by practitioners to clear upper body edema, particularly where there is swelling in the face and neck. It can also be used for nosebleeds, acute ear ringing as well as a sore throat.


Located 5 cun above LI5 on the line between LI5 and LI11, this acupoint is often used for acute abdominal pain as well as being useful in tackling forehead headaches and sore throats.


This point can be found 8 cun above LI5 on the line between LI5 and LI11.


This point can be found 9 cun above LI5, on the line between LI5 and LI11.


This point can be found 10 cun above LI5, on the line between LI5 and LI11.

All three of these points can be used in conjunction to relieve elbow and forearm pain caused by tennis elbow, carpal tunnel syndrome and other related ailments. They can also be used for patients suffering from abdominal pain.


Found at the lateral end of the elbow crease this is often used by practitioners as the ideal acupoint to clear internal or external heat located anywhere in the body. Fevers, hives, sore throats and odorous bowel movements can all benefit from the use of the point.


Located 1 cun above LI11


Located 3 cun above LI11, on the line between LI11 and LI15


Located 7 cun above LI11, on the line between LI11 and LI15 at the deltoid insertion.


Located anterior and inferior to the acromion, in the eye of the shoulder.

These are all local acupoints that are effective in relieving pain in the arm and shoulder area.


This point is found in the depression between the acromial extremity of the clavicle and the lateral end of the scapular spine. Again, this point is ideal to be used for patients with localised pain.


Found on the posterior border of the Sternocleidomastoid muscle, exactly 1 cun below LI18.


Found between the two heads of Sternocleidomastoid muscle at the level of the laryngeal protuberance.

Both LI17 and LI18 are used for helping sore throats, asthma as well as helping patients experiencing acute and chronic coughs. They can also both be used in lowering high blood pressure.


This penultimate point in the Large Intestine Acupuncture Meridian is found below the lateral margin of the nostril.


This is the final acupoint in the Large Intensive meridian and is found in the groove of the ala nasi.

Both LI19 and LI20 are used by practitioners to open the nasal cavity, with LI20 being most effective. They are the ideal points for aiding nasal congestion, rhinitis, sinusitis, nosebleed, as well as a loss of sense of smell.

The primary purpose of the large intestine is to absorb liquid and release anything that is no longer needed in the way of food, toxins, emotions, thereby cleansing the body, mind, and spirit. This acupuncture meridian contains a range of useful acupoints that practitioners regularly use for a variety of ailments and imbalances in the body.

Acupuncture That Works can provide a range of acupuncture which could help if you are currently suffering from any of the imbalances, ailments or illnesses associated with acupoints within the Large Intestine Acupuncture meridian. For an initial consultation please call us on 0800 051 76 88 to speak to one of our team.