By Dr. Abrahamson on

I had the great privilege to work with Dr. Miriam Lee from 1978-1981 in California.  I had just come back from studying in China, and was full of theory, but had little practical experience. Dr. Lee had studied with Master Tung of Taiwan. And though she incorporated many “Tung” points, her practice was firmly grounded in TCM.

One of her favorite point combinations, which has also become one of my favorite, is the 3 Emperor ‘Dao Ma’ (combination of 3 points).  Miriam used to pronounce “Emperor” as “Empire”, so her students would call them “3 Empire” too.  If you look up their indications in the various Tung books available today, you will find a huge list of Western symptoms. But the most important use of these 3 points is for Yin Deficiency, especially dual Kidney/Liver Yin and Blood Deficiency.

Now it’s well known in TCM that you cannot tonify Blood or Yin directly with acupuncture. But you CAN open the body to receive Yin – by reducing Dampness, Heat, Wind, etc. It’s my understanding that this is what these points do best. They free the Six Stagnations, so Yin can be received by the body. Miriam never actually said this, but it was somehow implied or transmitted in working with her. And over 30 years, it has been my observation and understanding. On a typical day in my clinic, I use this combination of points at least twice.

Dr. Lee used to use this combination of points often, and then prescribe for the patient a large dose of Liu Wei Di Huang Wan pills, sometimes as much as 80 pills three times a day!  Though this is a cloying formula, it was rare to find any of her patients having any problems with this dosage. I think the “3 Empresses” (as I like to call them – after all they’re for Yin Xu) prepares the body to receive the large dose of Liu Wei Di Huang.

Now for their location.  You would think about such important points there would be widespread agreement concerning their location. But there is not. When I first started observing with Dr. Lee, I was trailing behind her, secretly measuring with my fingers her point locations. And I noticed that, especially with these 3 points, their location would differ up to 1 cun!  It was fun to see new students to her clinic with the same baffled expression on their faces, secretly checking Miriam’s point location.

The truth: you have to feel for these points. The 3 Empresses are, more or less, along the lower Spleen meridian. The most distal point Ren Huang could be said to be at Spleen 6, or at K7 or 5 fen posterior to Spleen 6.  The most proximal point Tian Huang Fu is 1 to 1.5 cun distal to Spleen 9. Dr. Tan has written it is best to find the A Shi point in this area, and I agree.

The middle point Di Huang is approximately at Spleen 7, but Miriam usually put it halfway between Ren Huang and Tian Huang Fu. Sometimes I substitute Spleen 9 for Tian Huang Fu, when the patient has a lot of Damp Stagnation. And I often use K7 instead of Ren Huang for men. And I’ll often leave out Di Huang – using just  “2 Empresses.”

I hope this small article has been of help in your clinical practice. Feel free to contact me with any comments or questions.

-Robert Abrahamson OMD, LAc

May 2005


  1. I agree! Each point is unique to every patients needs. The energy stagnates and it is the acupuncturists job to get it moving once again. A standard protocol is the starting point, so one must see what the patients body is telling us. The greatest lesson that I’ve learned in my experience is palpating and finding the irregularities in each body. I love the fact that you observed and noted the variation in teh needing from patient to patient !! What a teacher says and what a teacher does sometimes can be two different things. Thanks so much for sharing your knowledge and experiences.

  2. Hi Thanks for the great article- short but sweet! I love these point as well- but do you see that sometimes one has to have multiple treatments before seeing results?
    And also- I have decided to alternate them with 4 horses because people come with multiple problems and then I feel these 2 sets of points cover everything- Do you agree? thanks
    Sincerely, Yehudis in Jerusalem

    • Sorry I am only replying now – I didn’t see your comment from last April! I don’t feel four horses and three empresses cover everything. Even though both sets of points have a wide variety of indications, a good acupuncturist uses all the points in his knowledge as needed.Otherwise, our artful medicine just becomes mechanical.

  3. Iam using this 3 points for the past 1 week. Iam insulin dependent for the past 25 h
    Yrs.taking miscarriage 50/50 17 units morning and night.pls give suggestions, advise early.Thank u Dr.

  4. These may be magic points, but they are not “cures” for diabetes! You need to see a competent acupuncturist, who would add other points than these to any treatment, not to mention herbal medicines. Good luck.

  5. Dear Dr. Abrahamson.i accept your advice.but i am practicing acupuncture past few if you give valuable suggestions,points i can follow.lot of thanks for your kind response.and in future also i need your kind response suggestions advice.nearly past 6 months i am taking homoe medicine ARNICA MONTANA 30c potencial(in 500 ml spring water add this medicine only 3 drops and shake the bottle well.take 30 drops or 1 one lid of that bottle in the morning empty stomach and at bed time.this 500 ml+3 drops medicine will come for 45 important that every time you have to shake the bottle well(6 times)this water gives good energy strenght.this medicine can take anybody.and this medicine thin your blood and you can awake very early morning,it gives shinng your hear and relese your body pain also.further details pls see about this medicine THE MIRACLE ARNICA MONTANA.EXPECTING your ealy response Dr.Abrahamson.THANK U.

  6. Hi Dr Abrahamson,
    I am an acupuncturist, and i was wondering whether we have to puncture this set of 3 points unilaterally or bilaterally!

    Thank you so much in advance.

  7. Thank you for sharing your knowledge, Dr. Abrahamson. Would you advise needling these Three Empresses points opposite to the direction of the channels and close to the tibia bone since they are for draining damp?

    • Thanks for writing, Linh. I needle these points mostly perpendicular or slightly oblique in the direction of the Spleen channel AND as you say close to the bone. If the main issue is draining dampness, I will give the needles a stronger stimulation. Hope this helps

  8. As for interest in the fact that one should look to variations in points. I as a retired acupuncturist developed diabetes 11. So using TUNGS points and looking towards splenic problem I often used the recommended the 3 lower emporers. 77.17 77.19. 77.21. This helped a lot. But still searching, realised that liv and kid is more involved in Diabetes 11. I moved to upper 3 yellows. Plus also feeling the deficiency in the liv pulse.
    So bilat. On 88.12. 88.13 88.14 plus kid3 bilat. For an hour at a time. The change was much better. And after a combined yearly blood test. My doc said blood sugar had dropped from over 80 to below 40. and actually congratulated me. I havenever used diabetic medication and I am now 86.
    So good luck to you all.

  9. Sir continuing my last message to you. Having read your information on how you worked in your clinic with the 3 Emperors. And the fact that their use will allow an increase of yin. I found over time that if I dispersed those points with the diabetic leg and feet neuropathy and then dispersed the Yang aspect this was better.
    The only thing I can say is that I must have a Yin excess, caused by something in my childhood. Having gone through the ice on a pond and in it for an hour before being saved. Perhaps it caused a deep internal coldness which is very difficult to remove. Yin excess is not often seen. But it s worth checking for possibilites. Although since I was 12 I suddenly had psychic happenings in my life and always continued with great prescience. There are often so many factors to look into with acupuncture diagnoses. After retirement I have continued to study the Masters for the last 20 years. Why? Because the subject has always been so fascinating.

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