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Tiger’s mouth alternative name for the famous LI4 acupoint

LI4 acupuncture point (合谷 hé gǔ union valley) is for sure, top-10 most commonly used point in acupuncture treatments.

This point belongs to the hand yang ming large intestine channel and has few very interesting alternative names, which highlight both anatomy and function of this point. However, some of its alternative names highlight other aspects of the point’s indications.

Thus it is recommended to know and understand the point’s different names in Chinese.

Alternative names:

1. 虎口 hǔ kǒu Tiger’s mouth

2. 合骨 hé gǔ uniting bones


1. 虎口 hǔ kǒu Tiger’s Mouth is a reference to the ability of the thumb and index finger to open wide like a tiger’s mouth, where the point is located in between. Moreover, and even more interesting, this point is a command point of the face and mouth (四總穴) and can treat many types of mouth [口 kǒu – mouth] and head disorders. As well, in Chinese astronomy tiger (虎 hǔ) is associated with the third branch 寅 (yín) [part of twelve earthly branches (十二地支)] and with the lung organ. This point has a strong qi (氣) effect in the body, therefore we can think that because the lung and large intestine are in interior-exterior (表裡) relationship, this point actually effects the lungs, which are the “commander of qi” (肺主氣) in the body.

2. Because the Chinese words for (valley) 谷 gǔ and 骨 gǔ (bone) have similar pronunciation, the name 合谷 hé gǔ [union valley] or 合骨 hé gǔ [uniting bones] serves as poetic mnemonic to remember that the point is located in between the the first and second metacarpal bones.

Li4 would be combined often with the follwing points:

LV3- LI4 4 gates for allergies and to move qi and blood.

LI4-KD7 for profuse sweat

LI4-ST36 to regulate the yangming chanel

LI4-LU7 to release the exterior

LI4- ST43 to treat frontal yangming type headache


  1. Introduction to English Terminology of Chinese by Nigel Wiseman.
  2. Grasping the wind by Nigel Wiseman.



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