LI4 is often described as the universal ‘pain point’ and features often in the traditional literature.
We use LI4 in medical acupuncture, often but not exclusively in the treatment of chronic headache such as migraine and tension headache.
It’s effect is likely due to the central regulatory effects evoked in response to needling LI4 such as limbic deactivation, autonomic regulation, central endorphin release as well as an expectation response. These effects can be evoked when needling in the right context anywhere in the body, but LI4 is often used as an access point to the central nervous system.
Another possible reason to use LI4 when treating headaches specifically is due to the proposed segmental mechanism which, due to a segmental overlap at the C8/T1 spinal level, may modulate sympathetic tone about the head and neck. The benefit here may be improved auto-regulation about the trigeminal vascular system which in turn supplies the trigeminal cervical nucleus...the so called ‘headache centre’ of the brain.
A bit of neurophysiology here, I like to try and understand how medical acupuncture works which helps me decide where and how I might use needling techniques for the benefit of my client. For this reason I like to go into the some of the science on mechanisms.
That said, I’m a clinician at heart and there is nothing more satisfying than seeing a client who has been struggling with pain for a long time feel great benefit from my treatments which often includes medical acupuncture and often LI4.