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Namaste, Sea Turtle!

Whenever I see a sea turtle, I remember learning about the point Gallbladder 21 in my acupuncture class. Those from Boston may very well know of Myrtle the Turtle from the New England Aquarium. Legend story is that Myrtle had TMJ and needed acupuncture. During her treatment, the clinicians used Gallbladder 21, which is located right at the top of the shoulder in the middle of the trapezius muscle, with great benefit.

When this story was told during class, my acupuncture professor stated, “Sea turtle? Sea turtle? How did they get it out of its shell?” Very good question – and I am still curious about that as well!

Gallbladder 21 is a commonly used point to help with stiffness of the neck and shoulders, as well as TMJ. This point often responds well to trigger point treatment. Many of us have a tight knot here, from muscle spasm that develops through prolonged sitting and driving. Moving away from the computer, stretching frequently through the day, swimming, and massage can help alleviate this tightness.

Of note, this particular point should be avoided for acupuncture during pregnancy.

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Photos from Anaehoomalu, Hawaii in February 2019.

Diagram from A Manual of Acupuncture, Peter Deadman and Mazin Al-Khafaji, Journal of Chinese Medicine Publications, 2008.

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