The 13 ghost acupuncture points are part of an obscure and esoteric tradition in Chinese medicine. They were developed in the 6th Century by a doctor called Sun Si Miao to address disturbances that were attributed to demonic possession. Disorders such as seizures, mania, confusion and nightmares were thought to have a spiritual origin and therefore required a spiritual solution. The 13 ghost points were said to transcend time and space and and help a soul find their place in the cosmos.

These days we have modern herbal formulas and acupuncture point prescriptions for both neurological and psychological problems and so the ghost points have fallen out of fashion. They’re not often mentioned in text books or taught in colleges any more. If they are discussed by acupuncturists it’s usually as an anomaly or an anachronism left over from the 6th century when our understanding of neuropsychobiology was limited and medicine was more shamanic in nature.

However, the interesting thing about the ghost points is that even if you don’t believe they’re exorcizing ghosts they do seem to have a calming effect. All the points have applications that affect a patient’s emotional and psychological welfare and when used together they create a sense of peace and centeredness. I was once told by one of my teachers that the idea behind the ghost points was to use that feeling of connection and tranquility to connect the patient to whatever anchors them and soothes their spirit. So for a Taoist the points can be used to connect the patient to the Tao and for a Christian the points can be used to help them feel closer to God.

So for me the efficacy of the ghost points lies, not outside the patient in the spirit world, but inside their body as they relax and find the space to process their feelings and become centered.

They may be considered ghostly but these points have little to do with Halloween and everything to do with healing the spirit in it’s broadest sense.
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