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Ma Dan Yang Acupuncture: The 12 Miraculous Points

Ma Dan Yang was a practitioner of Daoism in the 12th century. As a young man he developed great skill in acupuncture and moxibustion (Zhen Jiu 针灸). He left behind an ode to 12 miraculous acu-points, today known as Ma Dan Yang Acupuncture.

If you want to learn a few acupuncture points that produce consistent results in treating a variety of illnesses, learn these!

This article presents Ma Dan-Yang’s ode to the first acu-point, Zusanli (ST 36).

足三里 Zusanli, “Leg Three Li” (ST 36)

Zusanli (ST 36), located three cun below Xiyan (Extra) and between two tendons, can get to the heart of abdominal distension and is good for the treatment of cold sensation in the stomach, intestinal noises and diarrhea, swollen leg, soreness in the knees, emaciation, weakness from cold damage, and parasitic infestation (Gu Qi) of all sorts.

After the age of thirty, a person’s vision can be extended by applying acupuncture on this acupoint. This acupoint must be located carefully. Robust health can be brought by inserting the needle in 0.8 cun and applying three cones of moxa.




Zusanli (ST 36) is effective for the treatment of gastrointestinal diseases. The kidney dominates Yuan Qi (Primary Qi and the spleen dominates Zhong Qi (Central Qi), i.e. the vital qi o Heaven.

The book says: “If there is stomach qi, there is life.” The spleen, stomach and intestines provide nutrition to the center. If there is no problem in the intestines and stomach, Zhong Qi is strong. Therefore, the ancients applied moxibustion directly on Zusanli, after the age of thirty, for assisting the Qi Dynamic of the spleen and stomach to increase the circulation of blood.

The classic proverbs says: “If one desires to improve the health of the body, Zusanli should not be dry.” This statement refers to the frequent application of moxibustion on Zusanli. Moxa frequently until there is a blister. Today it is believed that moxibustion on Zusanli can not only can treat problems of the intestines and stomach, but can also strengthen the body constitution.



Zusanli – ST 36

  • Resolves abdominal distention
  • Good for treating cold in the stomach
  • Intestinal rumblings and diarrhea
  • Leg swelling and knee ache
  • Cold damage emaciation
  • All manifestations of Gu-Toxin (parasitic infections)
  • After 30 years of age, this is a key point for acupuncture and moxabustion


  • Harmonizes the Stomach
  • Supports Correct Qi
  • Revives Yang & Restores Consciousness (one of nine needles for returning the yang)
  • Command Point for Disorders of Abdomen
  • Fortifies Spleen and Resolves Dampness

Zu San Li is located is located 3 cun (body inches) below the  lower border of the kneecap and the point ST 35 (Du Bi). It is slightly more than a finger’s breadth from the anterior border of the tibia.

The french version of this article can be read on Cours Qi Gong (translation by Mohammed Saïah).