Send to

Choose Destination
J Acupunct Meridian Stud. 2015 Aug;8(4):203-8. doi: 10.1016/j.jams.2014.11.009. Epub 2014 Dec 16.

Perception of Therapeutic Qi, a Nonmechanical, Nonpsychological Factor in Acupuncture That Originates from the Therapist.

Author information

Interuniversity College for Health and Development Graz, Castle of Seggau, Graz, Austria; TCM Aarau, Center for Chinese Medicine, Aarau, Switzerland. Electronic address:
Interuniversity College for Health and Development Graz, Castle of Seggau, Graz, Austria.
Institute of Complementary Medicine, University of Bern, Bern, Switzerland; Research Working Group, Swiss Professional Organization for Traditional Chinese Medicine SBO-TCM, Degersheim, Switzerland.


So far, most research attempts to explain the mechanism of the action of acupuncture have focused mostly on mechanically-triggered active factors and have produced inconclusive findings. In this study, we investigate whether acupuncture might also involve nonmechanical, nonpsychological active factors originating in the therapist. In 30 individuals, an acupuncture needle was inserted in the acupoint PC6 using a special device without touching the needle. A second device was used to fix the needle rigidly in place, excluding any mechanical transmission of movement from the handle to the needle's tip. Each participant was exposed in random order to a control and a stimulation phase. During the stimulation phase, the free needle's end was held by the therapist to allow the transmission of Qi; during the control phase, it was left untouched. Participants' subjective sensations during the stimulation phase and the control phase were recorded using a questionnaire. Twenty-two of 28 (79%; p = 0.003) test participants believed that they had received stimulation when it had actually been performed, and 26 (93%; p < 0.001) sensed differences between the two experimental phases. Thus, participants were able to sense the transmission of therapeutic Qi in the absence of mechanical or psychological factors.


acupuncture; neiguan; neurobiological mechanism; single blind

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free full text

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Elsevier Science
Loading ...
Support Center