Thursday, May 23, 2013

The Optimum Time Theory (TOTT)

In a group on I got to knew about a theory for using time based acupuncture that is similar to chrono acupuncture. That is a theory to calculate which points to use at a specific time.

The theory is based on the Chinese calendar and uses its Stem-Branch system. I will not go deeply in on Stems and Branches, but just give the basics. (To get to know more you can read here:,and to get to know the BaZi date there is a calculator here:, or

To be able to calculate the points to use we have to be aware of some theories:

  • 5-Elements and their relationships
  • Stem/Branch cycles, mostly the order.
  • And of course some knowledge about the channels and points.


Here we need to know the creating and controlling cycle.

In the picture the creating cycle is the one that goes in the order Wood -> Fire -> Earth -> Metal -> Water. The controlling cycle is the one that looks like a star, that is, it is skipping one and controlls the one after (Wood -> Earth -> Water -> Fire -> Metal).

Different patterns to get the points and channels to use

First pattern: which points to use

On Jia day start with Zi-branch, for each branch go with this cycle: water, earth, wood, metal, fire and repeat. When you get to the Stem-day  that is for the treatment time the element that is on that for this cycle it gives the element of the 5 Shu points for the Yin channels. These are:
  • wood -> Jing-well
  • fire -> Ying-spring
  • earth -> Shu-stream
  • metal -> Jing-river
  • water -> He-sea

If you look a bit closer you can see that each day start with the next element in the creating circle from the starting element of the previous day. If you remember this it is easier to calculate.

Second pattern: First two meridians.

The way to calculate two of the meridians to use is similar to calculte which points to use. The difference is that one a Jia the sequence starts with Earth for getting the Yin meridian.

When getting the element of the Yin channel. The second channel is the Yang channel to the element controlling the Yin channel.
For example: for Jia day at midnight, the Yin channel is Earth and the Yang channel is Wood.

Third pattern: Last four meridians.

This cycle is a bit different from the other two. First of all within a day it cycles as the creating cycle. And secondly it does not change element every block but keeps the same for two blocks, as the image below illustrate. However, it starts with water as the first cycle.

The first 2 channels is the Yin and Yang channels for the element in this cycle. The other two are the channels for the element controlled by the first.
For example if we get Jia day at midnight. First pair it Water, the second pair is Fire.


15th of May, 14.00:
Stem: Xin, (Yin Metal)
Active Channel: Small Intestine

  1. Get the points to use.
    1. Xin day starts with Fire. Follow the cycle until you reach 13-15. (fire, water, earth, wood, metal, fire, water earth)
    2. Earth means you shold use Shu-stream points.
  2. Get the first two channels.
    1. Xin days starts with Water in the second diagram. Follow this cycle until you reach 13-15. (water, earth, wood, metal, fire, water, earth, wood).
    2. Wood Yin is Liver
    3. The element controlling Wood is Metal. Metal Yang is Large Intestine.
  3. Get the rest of the channels.
    1. Xin day starts with Fire. Follow the creating cycle until 13-15. (Here it changes every two block: fire, earth, metal, water).
    2. Water gives Kidney and Bladder
    3. The element controlled by Water is Fire, this gives Heart and Small Intestine
  4. The points to needle are: Liver-3, Large Intestine-3, Kidney-3, Bladder-65, Heart-7, Small Intestine-3
23nd of May, 10.00:
Stem: Ji, (Yin Earth)
Active Channel: Spleen

  1. Start element: Water, 
    1. element at 10.00: Water
    2. Water -> He-sea points
  2. First two channels:
    1. (earth, wood, metal, fire, water, earth)
    2. Spleen
    3. Gall Bladder
  3. The rest of the channels
    1. (water, water, wood, wood, fire, fire)
    2. Heart/Small Intestine
    3. Lung/Large Intestine
  4. Needle: Sp-9, Gb-34, Ht-3, Si-8, Lu-5, Li-11


This can be used on its own. But if you want to treat for specific condition, for example, Lung deficiency, add Lu-9 to tonify.

In this method the needles should not be retained for mor than 15 minutes.

Good luck and happy needling.

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