San Jiao, triple burner, triple warmer etc.)' />
Printer Friendly Email a Friend PDF

Acupuncture Today – April, 2013, Vol. 14, Issue 04

The Triple Energizer—A Case Study

By Kimberly Thompson, LAc

Recently I had a surgery, which greatly affected my Triple Energizer channel. I found myself in bed with a lot of time on my hands trying to recuperate. Because the health of my triple energizer channel was impaired—I wound up doing a lot of research to help with my own healing.

In the process, I learned some interesting information, which has broadened my understanding of this amazing phenomenon known as the Triple Energizer. (As you know, it's also called San Jiao, triple burner, triple warmer etc.)

I found the Triple Energizer's role with fluids very interesting in the process of metabolism, digestion, hormones and obesity. The majority of my patients are female, and many of them suffer chronic pain and other health problems in these areas. In fact, I am now finding that unaddressed problems in the Triple Energizer channel may directly correlate with development of chronic pain and/or health problems later in life.

In this article I will share some helpful information regarding diagnostic and treatment strategies for problems in the Triple Energizer, and discuss how these treatment strategies made a significant impact for a patient who had been suffering with chronic pain for the last 12 years.

Tongue and Pulse Diagnosis

Theoretically, you can diagnose problems in the Triple Energizer by feeling the pulse in the qi (third finger) position on the right hand at the most superficial of the three levels for pulse taking. But since the Triple Energizer isn't really an organ—but rather three specific areas with differing functions, I find that diagnosing the Triple Energizer through pulse diagnostics in a single location may be difficult— because an imbalance in the area of the Triple Energizer literally involves every organ system. Tongue analysis is a helpful diagnostic confirmation because I can see problems in each individual area.


I have found that palpation of the Triple Energizer channel, along the forearm, is very helpful in determining how well the channel is functioning. Painful palpation indicates heat in the channel. Nodules and bumps along the channel are an indicator of blood or phlegm stasis in the Triple Energizer regions of the body.

Electronic Diagnosis

Digital Meridian Imaging (DMI), which is my favorite diagnostic tool, is excellent for evaluating problems in the Triple Energizer Channel. By measuring electrical skin resistance at the source point of the channel, you can evaluate excesses or deficiencies in the channel, left right imbalances, and upper/lower body imbalances.

Triple Energizer Treatment Strategies

Since all the channels run through the middle of the body as they flow through the cycle of energy from Lung to Liver—often, Triple Energizer problems will manifest as upper/lower body imbalances. Opening the Dai Mai is a good first step for treatment of the Triple Energizer. Other extraordinary channels are also helpful, but the Dai Mai is especially effective because it incorporates points from both channels in the Shao Yang (Triple Energizer and Gallbladder). Once the Dai Mai is open, it is important to consider the root cause of the blockage and address the problem accordingly. Typically, imbalances in the Triple Energizer channel are related to blockages of qi and heat accumulation.

Below is a list of points, which are very effective for treating the Triple Energizer channel—based on your palpation findings.

Triple Energizer Treatment Strategies
Upper/Lower Imbalance Energy is blocked in the middle—
blocking flow between the upper and lower body.
Dai Mai:
TE 5/GB 41
Blockage of Qi Tenderness to palpation. TE 5,
GB 34
Clumped Qi from Heat Tenderness to palpation plus nodules and bumps. TE 5,
GB 41
Add these points to each of the strategies above:
  • Ren 17: Regulates the Upper Jiao
  • ST 25: Regulates the Middle Jiao
  • Ren 7: Regulates the Lower Jiao

Once I recovered from surgery, using the treatment strategies above, I decided to test them in my clinic. The following case study is a great example of my results.

Case Study:

34-year-old female

triple energizer - Copyright – Stock Photo / Register Mark Chief complaint: Chronic headaches (tension and migraine), neck pain and shoulder pain since college; worse in the last two years.

  • Tends towards constipation, bloating and gas
  • Allergies and phlegm—coughs up phlegm often
  • Irritable and stressed; type A personality
  • Energy level: 5/10
  • Tends toward cold, occasional night sweats
  • Infertility issues
  • Tongue: Thick, white coat
  • Pulse: Hesitant, thin, choppy

I had been working with this patient for 8 months. Although we continued to make progress at relieving her headaches, pain returned after 2-3 days. Her DMI graph continued to show excess in the Triple Energizer channel on almost every visit.

These graphs were typical from week to week. Notice how the Triple Energizer channel was always excessive. I tried basic TCM theory to deal with the phlegm-damp and blood stagnation in the channels, including acupuncture and herbs. I also tried channel theory, auriculotherapy, tonification and sedation points, musculoskeletal ashi treatments, electrical stimulation, cupping, and massage. Everything worked for a short time, but I couldn't get her body to hold the treatment for more than a few days.

After I returned to work after my surgery, I decided to add the Triple Energizer treatment strategies listed in the table above. After two treatments, her DMI graph analysis immediately changed—and so did her headaches, digestion, and congestion.

triple energizer - Copyright – Stock Photo / Register Mark I could end the story here—because obviously the Triple Energizer treatment strategies made a HUGE impact. She was finally getting 4-5 days of headache relief—which was a big jump from the previous 8 months of treatment. But the story gets even better, so I'll come back to it shortly.

Because of my own experience with a recent surgery, I was keenly aware of the damage that surgery and scar tissue can cause in the meridians.

How Surgery Affects the Triple Energizer

General anesthesia impairs normal body functions. It affects breathing, heart rate and blood pressure. Side effects include nausea and vomiting, grogginess, confusion, blurred vision, vertigo, itching, muscle aches, and emotional outbursts. It is not abnormal for post-op patients to describe unexplained symptoms such as depression, anxiety, panic attacks, trembling, loss of appetite, problems with vision and respiration, and acute IBS. My own surgeon told me that it could take several weeks before the patient feels back to normal.

Surgical Scars

Every meridian in the body can be affected by an imbalance in the triple energizer channel. If you consider how the energy flows from channel to channel, beginning with the Lung and ending with the Liver—each has to cross through the upper, middle and lower burners of the triple energizer to move forward in its natural flow. When movement through the Triple Energizer is slow or blocked, it is impossible for the other channels to function at full capacity.

Scar tissue causes interruptions in the natural flow of energy—especially if the tissue is cut horizontally across the meridians. Consider how many 'common' surgeries many of our female patients undergo: hysterectomy, breast augmentation/reduction, and tubal ligation. A blockage somewhere in this middle section of the body adversely affects an array of channels ultimately leading to long-term health problems. You cannot create a scar on the abdomen without affecting the internal energetic pathways of multiple organ systems. I see many women with scar tissue from common surgeries like these, who present later in life with chronic health conditions such as IBS, 'fibromyalgia,' hormonal imbalances, and weight disorders.

Case Study Conclusion

I asked this patient if she had scar tissue she hadn't told me about. It turns out she had surgical scars from breast reduction surgery in her early 20s along with a c-section in her late 20s. We spent a few more weeks treating blockages found under her breasts and in her bikini line with acupuncture and moxa therapy. Her previous pattern of having a daily headache immediately changed again, to one manageable headache every couple of weeks.

You can imagine her excitement! After scar tissue therapy, her DMI graph analysis looked like this:

triple energizer - Copyright – Stock Photo / Register Mark

As you can see, the Triple Energizer is a very powerful organ system. Learning through my own surgery was a little tough, but in the end, I gained some really valuable information. The case study listed above is typical of what I am finding on many patients. Careful analysis and treatment of the Triple Energizer and abdominal scar tissue can be life changing for patients with chronic health conditions, and if addressed early, may prevent chronic health problems from ever occurring.


  1. Ju-Yi W. Applied Channel Theory in Chinese Medicine. Eastland Press, Inc., 2008.
  2. Thompson K. What the Heck is a Triple Energizer Anyway? Acupuncture Technology News, 2012.

Click here for more information about Kimberly Thompson, LAc.

Join the conversation
Comments are encouraged, but you must follow our User Agreement
Keep it civil and stay on topic. No profanity, vulgar, racist or hateful comments or personal attacks. Anyone who chooses to exercise poor judgement will be blocked. By posting your comment, you agree to allow MPA Media the right to republish your name and comment in additional MPA Media publications without any notification or payment.

To report inappropriate ads, click here.