The wonders of Gallbladder 21

Gallbladder 21 on the shoulderRelieve head, neck, and shoulder pain

Gallbladder 21 does it all!

The area between the neck and shoulders is a common place for muscle tension and pain. This is right where the upper trapezius muscle and Gallbladder 21 are located. If you’ve ever had a massage, then I am sure you’ve enjoyed having this area kneaded and released from tension!
Gallbladder 21 (GB 21) is located in the upper trapezius muscle (see image below).

Gallbladder 21 is located on the back side of the upper Trapezius muscle

Gallbladder 21 is located on the back side of the upper Trapezius muscle

How to locate Gallbladder 21*

GB 21 is an easy acupoint to locate. If you have ever massaged someone’s shoulder area, you have definitely contacted GB 21. One detail to keep in mind is that GB 21 is on the back side of the upper trapezius. It is at the half-way mark between the side of the neck and the edge of the shoulder, just slightly toward the back side. (See image below.)

GB 21 location details

GB 21 is on both sides of the body.

Relieve headache pain

Whenever there is headache, neck pain/stiffness, or shoulder pain, use GB 21 as part of your treatment approach. This point is often very sore, so apply gentle pressure at first. Increase your pressure as your client exhales, while asking them to tell you when they feel like the pressure is “just right.” Add gentle kneading and circular movements to encourage the flow of blood and Qi (“chee” – energy) within the local area.

Try listening to this blog post

Send the Qi down

Gallbladder 21 is famous for moving the Qi downward.
Headaches are often the result of too much Qi stuck in the head. Massaging GB 21 releases Qi from the head area and encourages it to flow downward along the Gallbladder meridian. Once the stuck Qi is released from the head, the pain subsides.
GB 21 is so good at moving the Qi down, it should not be used during pregnancy!

Relieve neck and shoulder pain

Due to its location, GB 21 is in the perfect position to relieve neck and shoulder pain. Pain and stiffness are often the result of Qi backing up or stagnating in a particular area. By massaging GB 21, we encourage the Qi to move and flow again. Combining soothing massage to the muscles of the neck and shoulder, with attention to GB 21 is a simple and effective way to relieve local pain.

Acupoints are located on both sides of the body

Like all acupoints, GB 21 is located on both shoulders. Even if the pain is confined to one side, massage GB 21 on both sides for the best results. This point by itself contributes greatly to Qi flow and pain reduction, but it’s always best to add in a few more points to address the specific concerns of each individual.
*Gallbladder 21 is contraindicated during pregnancy. Do not massage GB 21 during pregnancy.

Learn more by viewing this quick video lesson –  “All About the Gallbladder Meridian”

Cindy Black

Cindy Black is the Founder of Big Tree School of Natural Healing and the author of Meridian Massage, Pathways to Vitality. She is appreciated for her ability to make the complex accessible, fun, and practical.


  1. Monica on July 12, 2023 at 4:16 pm

    Ciao, your book is available also in Italian? Grazie

    • Cindy Black on July 12, 2023 at 6:10 pm

      Sorry, it has not been translated into Italian yet – only Polish.
      – Cindy

  2. Sherrie Allyn, LMT on January 24, 2019 at 4:48 pm

    Thank you, Cindy! I use GB21 frequently in massage, and it is easy to find. I always have gotten good results in relaxing my clients using this point.

    • Cindy Black on January 24, 2019 at 5:06 pm

      You are welcome – glad you are getting great results Sherrie 🙂

  3. Caryl on November 14, 2018 at 11:55 pm

    Thanks, Cindy, for Sharing such great info. Caryl

  4. Helen Stewart on November 28, 2017 at 1:03 pm

    pardon me if i’m wrong…isn’t gallbladder an organ inside our body? Nice info though

    • Cindy Black on November 28, 2017 at 8:44 pm

      Hi Helen,
      Yes, the gallbladder is an organ. This blog (and my work) refers to Chinese medicine. Gallbladder 21 is an acupoint on the Gallbladder meridian.

  5. Kiara Pritchard on September 4, 2017 at 3:48 pm

    Thank You Cindy, very helpful

  6. Dilys Ross on March 24, 2017 at 6:19 am

    Wonderful illustrations Cindy with such helpful guidance for a very common issue. Thank You.

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