You’ve got a lot of Gall (bladder)
The Gallbladder in Chinese Medicine is a relatively unimportant organ, so much so that many people can live quite happily without one. However it is probably the case that most of us have experienced pain somewhere along its meridian. It is in fact, the longest meridian of the body starting at the outside of the eyebrow, zigzagging back and forth across the head coming down the neck, across the shoulders, down the sides of the body and legs until it reaches the end of the fourth toe. Its pathway is said to ‘stitch’ the front and back of the body together but unfortunately it is prone to energetic stagnation and therefore somewhere where we are susceptible to feeling pain.
On a physical level the organ itself excretes bile into the stomach which aids with digestion. This is recognised by both Western and Eastern medicines, however all the organs in Chinese Medicine have an energetic and spiritual aspect as well. The Gallbladder is no different and it is related to decision making. Someone with weak Gallbladder energy may be lack the ability to make even the most trivial of decisions. A strong Gallbladder will give us the courage and initiative to be strong and decisive. This notion has somehow made it in to the Western lexicon as someone who has a lot of ‘gall’ is said to have ‘brazen boldness’
However people very rarely come for an acupuncture treatment to help with decisiveness, (probably because they can’t make up their mind whether to come or not!). What they do come for though is treatment for pain along the pathway of the Gallbladder channel. There are several points where Qi tends to get stuck and these are points most of us have probably experienced at some time or other.
The Gallbladder is paired with the Liver via the Wood element, so emotional stress that can affect the Liver will often be channelled into the Gall Bladder meridian. One of the most common areas where this will be felt will be across the top of the shoulders and up in to the neck. These are classic areas of tension.
Furthermore migraine type headaches, which can start off with the stagnation of Liver Qi, tend to rise upwards, as is the nature of Wood energy, via the Gallbladder channel and cause pain to be felt in the head. To alleviate this we might use points at the other end of the GB meridian on the foot, to try and draw this excess energy back down.
The other point I use most frequently lies in the depth of the buttock and is poetically named ‘jumping circle’. If you delve around deeply in to your Gluteus Maximus you are certain to find a spot more tender than the others. This is inevitably Gallbladder 30 and is another place where Qi tends to get stuck. Stagnation here maybe felt anywhere along the length of Gallbladder meridian down the side of the leg, or often it passes on to the Bladder meridian which goes down the back of the leg. Both of these pathways follow the sciatic nerve, which comes out of the lower spine and traverses the buttock at this acupuncture junction. Needling this point is essential in treating the common ailment which we know in the West as sciatica.
The Gallbladder meridian is also susceptible to the invasion of Wind, Cold and Damp, so particularly at this time of year its best to follow your Granny’s advice and keep your neck wrapped up and try not to sit in any puddles, and keep that Gallbladder Qi from stagnating.