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Journal of Chinese Integrative Medicine ›› 2013, Vol. 11 ›› Issue (3): 168-174.doi: 10.3736/jintegrmed2013030

Special Issue: Acupuncture & Moxibustion

• Research Article • Previous Articles     Next Articles

Introduction of two novel devices for investigating the influence of non-mechanical components such as therapeutic qi in acupuncture

Raphael J. Hochstrassera,bP. Christian Endlera, Klein D. Sabinec,d()   

  1. a. Interuniversity College for Health and Development Graz, Castle of Seggau, 8042 Graz, Austria
    b. TCM Practice Aarau, Ochsengässli 7, 5000 Aarau, Switzerland
    c. Institute of Complementary Medicine KIKOM, University of Bern, 3010 Bern, Switzerland
    d. Research Working Group, Swiss Professional Organization for Traditional Chinese Medicine SBO-TCM, 9113 Degersheim, Switzerland
  • Received:2013-02-13 Accepted:2013-03-26 Online:2013-05-10 Published:2013-05-15


Acupuncture is a complex intervention consisting of specific and non-specific components. Acupuncture studies more frequently focus on collecting data from the patients’ perspective and response, but the acupuncturist’s role remains relatively unclear. In order to investigate potential non-mechanical active factors originating from the acupuncturist and transmitted to the patient during treatment, two novel devices for basic research in acupuncture were designed. The Acuplicator allows the researcher to insert needles without touching the needles themselves, while the Veliusator locks the needle in its place so that no mechanical movement can be transferred.


The Acuplicator was used to insert needles at Neiguan (PC6) on the right forearm of 23 volunteers. The insertion depth was measured using a depth gauge. The transfer of mechanical movements from the handle to the tip was detected with a precision length gauge with a motoric-tactile sensor.


The mean insertion depth was (12.3 ± 1.5) mm (range 9.5 to 15.0 mm). Even with intense manipulation of the needle handle, no movements within ± 1 μm could be detected at the tip when the needle was locked.


With these two devices it will be possible to investigate the influence of non-mechanical components such as therapeutic qi in acupuncture.

Key words: Acupuncture, Needling sensation response, Acupuncture sensation


Figure 1

Construction plan of the AcuplicatorNumbers represent distances in mm. A, B and C are corresponding sections on the different views of the device."

Figure 2

Construction plan of the VeliusatorNumbers represent distances in mm. A, B and C are corresponding sections on the different views of the device."

Figure 3

Acuplicator in use."

Figure 4

Veliusator in use(a) With open slides. (b) With locked slides. The wooden boards above the volunteer’s hand serve as insulation, so that the volunteer does not feel the warmth of the acupuncturist’s hand."

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