Why would you want to look after your gallbladder?
If we look at the wisdom of traditional Chinese medicine we see that the organs work in pairs. One organ has a more yin quality and the other more yang. This reciprocal relationship means you can use acupuncture or acupressure on one of the organ points and it will also have an effect on it’s paired organ.
The liver and gallbladder organs work closely together. You can see here the link with modern medicine because the liver produces bile and the gallbladder stores bile to be secreted to help you break down fats. So, both organs have an important role to play in digestion. It also nourishes your tendons and connective tissue, so is important for your musculo-skeletal health. As well as it’s physiological function, the gallbladder is also thought to help us with decision-making, courage and flexible thinking.
What knocks the gallbladder out of balance?
Whereabouts is GB21?
Your actual gallbladder organ sits on the right hand side of your body, roughly if you were to draw a line from your nipple to your belly button it would sit at the bottom of your ribcage. The gallbladder meridian has 44 acupuncture points along its channel. These wrap themselves back and forth around the side of your head (which is why we use this point for migraines), then travel down the side of your body to your 4th toe. We are going to look at a point called gallbladder 21, GB21 for short, or more poetically known as ‘Shoulder well’.
You know that point that you intuitively massage at the top of your shoulders? Well that is GB21. You don’t need pinpoint accuracy, you can intuitively feel for a tightness or tension around that area. If you work at a desk keep a pot of a natural oil at your workstation - coconut oil is perfect because it doesn't contain any other ingredients and you can use it for so many things. Use the oil to massage around GB21 or into any other tight spot at the top of your shoulders. Of course, it is much nicer if someone else will massage it for you, but self-care is just as nourishing.
Why is GB21 related to stress?
The gallbladder channel is there to help with the smooth flow of qi (energy) from the head and neck down the body. If we are stressed, over thinking or spending too much time on a screen we can get stagnation in the gallbladder channel as it is unable to descend the qi. That tension headache, eye strain, or emotional tension may be a blocked gallbladder meridian.
What other symptoms can you use GB21 for?
It is particularly good for:
As you can see from the list, you must not use this point if you are pregnant or trying to get pregnant. This is one of the points that we use if the baby is full term but mama may need a little oxytocin or relaxation to promote labour. But definitely use it if baby is earth-side and mama needs some support with breastfeeding as it relaxes the muscles of the back and chest and relaxes mama which can help promote breastfeeding.
Leave a comment below if you already intuitively massage this point, or if you have thought of trying acupressure but were worried about getting it wrong.
Alison is a registered acupuncturist and co-owner of Blossom Natural Health in Chelmsford. She has been specialising in fertility and women's health for the last 20 years, and is the fertility acupuncturist for Bourn Hall fertility clinic in Wickford. She loves combining acupuncture, cranio-sacral therapy and somato-emotional release to help her clients with stress, digestive issue and pain relief.