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Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine
Volume 2011 (2011), Article ID 240653, 7 pages
Original Article

Forgotten Features of Head Zones and Their Relation to Diagnostically Relevant Acupuncture Points

1Brain Imaging Center, Goethe-University, Schleusenweg 2-16, 60528 Frankfurt, Frankfurt, Germany
2Institute of Neuroradiology, Goethe-University, Schleusenweg 2-16, 60528 Frankfurt, Frankfurt, Germany
3Department of Neurology, Goethe-University, Schleusenweg 2-16, 60528 Frankfurt, Frankfurt, Germany
4Horst Goertz Institute for Theory, History and Ethics of Chinese Life Sciences, Charité University Medicine, Berlin, Germany

Received 12 September 2008; Accepted 18 December 2008

Copyright © 2011 Florian Beissner et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


In the 1890s Sir Henry Head discovered certain areas of the skin that develop tenderness (allodynia) in the course of visceral disease. These areas were later termed “Head zones”. In addition, he also emphasized the existence of specific points within these zones, that he called “maximum points”, a finding that seems to be almost forgotten today. We hypothesized that two important groups of acupuncture points, the diagnostically relevant Mu and Shu points, spatially and functionally coincide with these maximum points to a large extent. A comparison of Head's papers with the Huang Di Neijing (Yellow Thearch's Inner Classic) and the Zhen Jiu Jia Yi Jing (Systematic Classic of Acupuncture and Moxibustion), two of the oldest still extant Chinese sources on acupuncture, revealed astonishing parallels between the two concepts regarding both point locations and functional aspects. These findings suggest that the Chinese discovery of viscerocutaneous reflexes preceded the discovery in the West by more than 2000 years. Furthermore, the fact that Chinese medicine uses Mu and Shu points not only diagnostically but also therapeutically may give us new insights into the underlying mechanisms of acupuncture.