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Acupuncture Needle Techniques

Tonification and sedation are the two needle techniques used by


acupuncture practitioners. Here will describe these techniques taking into
account both the mechanics and the art of needle technique.
The section on the needle technique will outline how each needle
technique is carried out and discusses how the practitioner can develop
internally so that treatment can be aimed at healing a person at the level
of body, mind and spirit. A great concert pianist must have impeccable
technique but also needs to integrate that expertise by accessing her or
his inner expression. A practitioner with experience and virtuosity is
capable of similar levels of excellence.

Acupuncture Needling Techniques For Tonification And Sedation

Acupuncture Needle Techniques To Heal Body And Spirit

What Is Acupuncture Tonification Needling Techniques?

What Is Acupuncture Sedation Needle Technique?

What Is Acupuncture Needle Technique Depth Of Insertion?

What Is Acupuncture Needle Sensation?

What Is Length Of Retention For Acupuncture Needles?

How Many Acupuncture Needles And Moxa Should Be Used For A


Treatment?

Acupuncture Needles Sensation When Contacting The Patients Qi

Acupuncture Needles Techniques For Transfer Of Organs Qi

Acupuncture Needling Techniques For Tonification And Sedation


The predominant needle technique used in acupuncture therapy is
tonification. There are occasions when the qi of an Organ appears full, in
which case sedation is used. Pulse diagnosis is the main method used to
decide which technique to use. In some cases because of the difficulty in
establishing a norm, this can require experience on the part of the
practitioner.
Because the constitution of acupuncture is treating a persons underlying
constitutional imbalance, it is not surprising that tonification is used more
often than sedation. Occasionally at the start of treatment a pulse feels
full and later becomes deficient. When the pulses begin to change a
different needle technique becomes appropriate. Less commonly, a

sedation needle technique needs to be carried out for a longer period,


although an underlying deficiency may still emerge later on.
Acupuncture Needling For Tonification And Sedation By Breath Control
Some practitioners ask their patients to breathe in or out while inserting
the needle to the required depth, but this is optional. Breathing with
needling is used in the following way:

Tonification the needle is inserted to the required depth on the


patients exhalation and withdrawn on inhalation.

Sedation the needle is inserted to the required depth on the


patients inhalation and withdrawn on exhalation.
Acupuncture Needling For Tonification And Sedation By Closing the
Acupuncture hole
If a point has been tonified, the hole is closed with a cotton wool swab
after the needle has been removed. If a point has been sedated, the hole
is left open after the needle has been removed.
Acupuncture Needle Techniques To Heal Body And Spirit
The needle gauge, number of points used, retention time and amount of
needle sensation vary according to the level of treatment a patient
requires. In general, the subtler spirit levels are reflected by more refined
and subtle needle techniques.
Below summarizes the use of acupuncture needle technique when treating
the physical level versus a more spirit level:
Physical LevelNeedle gauge : Thicker
Number Of Points : More Points
Retention Time : Longer Retention
Obtaining Of Qi (degi) : More Sensation
Spirit Level
Needle Gauge : Finer
Number Of Points : Fewer Points
Retention Time : Less or No Retention

Obtaining Of Qi (deqi) : Less Sensation


Acupuncture Needle Gauge Control To Treat The Spirit
The usual gauge of a needle used by Acupuncturists is very fine usually
36 gauge (0.20 mm). This reflects the fact that practitioners often
concentrate their treatments on contacting the patients qi on a spirit
level. The subtler the levels treated, the finer the needle that is used.
What Is Acupuncture Tonification Needling Technique?
Tonification is used to strengthen a patients qi when it is deficient. This
technique involves inserting a needle to contact the patients qi, then
immediately removing it. The whole technique usually lasts for only 2-3
seconds. The equivalent technique used by practitioners of TCM is
different. (It is usually called reinforcing and the needle is left in place
for up to 20 minutes.) The Ling Shu Chapter I states:
Once qi has arrived there is no further need to retain the needle in the
patients body as the aim of the manipulation has now been achieved.
In the Ling Shu Chapter 3 it states:
A good physician withdraws the needle as soon as qi has arrived.
An acupuncture practitioner who finds that a patients pulses are deficient
uses this needle technique. For example. if the Metal Element is deficient,
the practitioner may choose to use any of the points on the Lung and
Large Intestine channels. In this case the needle action will be
tonification.
Procedure For Acupuncture Tonification Needle Technique
Tonification is the most common needle technique used by acupuncture
practitioners. This is because it is primarily concerned with strengthening
long-standing deficiencies in the Organs and Elements.
The following instructions assume that the reader is already trained in
appropriate sterile procedure.

Hold the needle angled 10 off the perpendicular and towards the
flow of qi.

Needle the left side of the body first then the right.

Insert the needle slowly to the required depth, as the patient


breathes out.

Contact the patients qi (deqi).

Turn the needle 180clockwise.

Remove the needle immediately

Close the hole by pressing a clean swab over the point.

What Is Acupuncture Sedation Needle Technique


Sedation needle technique is used to calm a persons qi when there is an
excess or full condition. This technique involves contacting the patients qi
then leaving the needle in place for 20-30 minutes until the pulses have
changed sufficiently.
A practitioner who finds that a patients pulses are hyperactive may
decide to soothe an Organ using this needle technique. For example, if the
Wood Element is hyper-functioning this may be reflected in the patients
pulses feeling full or agitated. In this situation the practitioner may
choose to use Liver and Gall Bladder points such as the source points
(Liver Liv 3 and Gall Bladder GB 40) or the sedation points (Liver Liv. 2 and
Gall Bladder GB 38) with a needle action of sedation technique. (Sedation
is most similar to the technique known to practitioners of TCM as even
technique rather than reducing technique.)
lf we imagine a swollen river threatening to flood, there are several ways
in which its flow returns to normal. Water can be drawn away or barriers
impeding its course can be removed. This is how we should visualize
sedation.
Procedure Acupuncture Sedation Needling Technique
The following Are The Procedure For Sedation Needle Technique:

Hold the needle angled 10 against the flow of the qi.

Needle the right side of the body first then the left.

Insert the needle quickly, to the required depth, as the patient


breathes in.

Turn the needle 360 anticlockwise.

Contact with the patients qi (deqi) is usually made while turning the
needle.

Retain the needle for between 5 and 30 minutes, until the desired
pulse change has occurred.

Remove the needle slowly.

When removing the needle, do not close the hole.

What Is Acupuncture Needle Technique Depth Of Insertion?


The method is quick to grasp and clear simply understand facing up or
following on and you can work.
Acupuncture Needle Angles
The above quotation describes the need to angle the needle with or away
from the flow of qi when either strengthening a deficient Organ or calming
an Organ that is hyper-functioning. In general, the needle is angled
towards or against the flow of qi but only a few degrees away from the
perpendicular. Large angles are rarely used unless the point is situated on
a bone, for example Large Intestine LI 6. In this case it is necessary to use
a more oblique angle in order to insert it to the required depth.
Depth Of Insertion Of Acupuncture Needles
Acupuncturists do not use extremely deep needle insertions. The depth of
insertion varies according to which point is being used but 0.5 cun is
common on an arm or leg. In this case a one inch long needle is most often
used (approximately 2.5 cm). Half-inch needles are used for nail points
when the insertion is very shallow. Needles one-and-a-half inches long are
used for deeper insertions such as Ren points on the lower abdomen.
Acupuncture Needle Manipulation
A practitioner usually inserts a needle to the required depth, then gently
turns it in order to make contact with the patients qi. As the turn is slight
180 for tonification and 360 for sedation this requires a continuous
movement and clear intention on the part of the practitioner.
What Is Acupuncture Needle Sensation?
The patient usually experiences the qi by feeling:

A dull ache

Soreness

Heaviness

A pulling sensation

Heat

Numbness

This sensation should not be extreme. At the same time the practitioner
will usually feel a pulling sensation. This feels as if the needle is being
held firmly by someones lingers or it is described as like catching a fish.
Acupuncture practitioners will generally ask their patients to let them
know when they have felt the qi. The aim of Traditional Chinese
Acupuncturists is to become more sensitive to feeling the qi so that they
no longer need to rely on the patient for feed- back as to whether they
have hit the point. This is only possible if the practitioner maintains a
calm mind and spirit when needling.
The needle techniques, especially for the treatment of acute conditions,
the needle technique used is gentle. This is because when the subtler
levels are treated, more delicate needle techniques are required.
What Is Length Of Retention For Acupuncture Needles
Acupuncture needles are not usually left in place when a patients qi is
being strengthened. When using sedation technique. however, needles are
retained. In this case, the changes felt on the patients pulses are the key
factor helping the practitioner to decide when to remove the needles.
Practitioners monitor the patients pulses over a period of 5-30 minutes.
although the usual period of retention is around 20 minutes. The
practitioner only removes the needles when the pulses have changed
sufficiently. The practitioner expects the change on the pulses to move
towards becoming more settled, harmonious and even.
How Many Acupuncture Needles And Moxa Should Be Used For A
Treatment?
Acupuncture practitioner usually uses only a small number of needles in
one treatment two to four points is not unusual. This is in keeping with
the principle of minimum intervention. When contacting the patient at the
level of mind or spirit, only a few carefully chosen points are required in
order to have a large effect.
HuaTuo (+110-207), the renowned physician, was famous for using only
one or two points per treatment and would tell his patients what they
should expect to feel as soon as they felt the sensations he would
remove the needles and they would be cured.
As for moxa, he applied it to no more than two places and not more than
seven or eight times in one place. In needling two places were sufficient
and often only one.
Acupuncture Needles Sensation When Contacting The Patients Qi

If a patient has very deficient qi it can be more difficult to contact it.


Because the qi inside the Organs is weak, It moves less easily. In this case
it may take time for the patient to feel a needle sensation. The
practitioner needs to maintain his or her intention and patiently wait for
the qi to come to the needle rather than assuming that she or he has
missed the point.
It is better for the practitioner not to constantly re-insert the needle as
this can cause unnecessary shock to the patients system. In some cases it
may be preferable for a practitioner to hold the needle, adjust his or her
posture and wait. In time the qi may arrive at the needle without the need
for new insertions.
Acupuncture Needles Techniques For Transfer Of Organs Qi
Transfers of qi are carried out in order to move qi from where there is an
excess in one Organ to another Organ where there is a deficiency. The qi
can be moved in different ways.

Along the sheng cycle. An example of this is when qi is moved using


a tonification point or a sedation point.

Between yin Organs across the ke cycle, for example, using Kidney
Kid 3 (Earth point) and Liver Liv 4 (Metal point) when re-balancing a
Husband-Wife.

To redistribute qi within an Element using a function point, for


example, using Kidney Kid 4 (Luo junction point) to pull qi from the
Bladder to the Kidneys or Stomach 40 (Luo junction point) to pull energy
from the Spleen to the Stomach.
The transfers described above are very simple and usually involve the use
of only one or two needles. More complicated transfers of qi can also be
used in order to rebalance the qi from a relatively hyperactive Organ to a
deficient Organ. As these are more complicated, the route must be
carefully planned, as they are likely to travel across more than one Organ.