What is Qi in Acupuncture

qi qcupunctureQi comes from three sources: first is the Original Qi which is present from the time that the life force is present, and then there is the Qi that is obtained from breathing air and from eating food. These all have different names depending on the parts of the body they inhabit. As an example, this is why you have Large Intestine Qi and Heart Qi; when you have these, you can run, you can walk and, because of this qi, you are alive. This is the Qi that is utilized in acupuncture.

Is it important to get the Qi for acupuncture?

Yes, it is vital in acupuncture to get the Qi. Once the needle penetrates the body, the Qi is stirring. But a lot  of acupuncturists do not know this and, in fact, they may not even believe in Qi. Because the Qi is stirring, if you insert a needle at this time you will get the Qi.

Increasing is difficult but decreasing is easy. All the ancient acupuncture texts emphasize that acupuncturists use the Qi to fix symptoms and you must rely on the Qi for a cure. If you don’t get the Qi, you don’t get the cure. It is vital to get the Qi for acupuncture to work.

What is the feeling of Qi when you do acupuncture?

Clinical experience in achieving Qi shows there is Evil  Qi and there is Grain Qi.  Evil Qi is always tight, heavy and painful while Grain Qi is expressed by dull pain, tingling and flowing of energy – this is the feeling of  normal energy. Then, if you increase or decrease, the patient feels something warming or something cooling. For example, when treating a woman with menstrual problems using Li3, the pain disappears from the abdominal area and the symptom is relieved even if the patient felt nothing locally.

Some texts describe the Qi as wind blowing the clouds. In fact, when the clouds are spreading, the patient feels the energy like the wind relieving the pain. Sometimes the patient feels it is like ice melting in hot soup. For the acupuncturist, it might feel like the fish biting a hook. This is all the effect of the Qi.

qi qcupuncture

Are there any techniques when dealing with needles?

To twist the needle, keep the movement below 180’. To rotate, chose 180 to 360’. Pushing the needle from the shallow layer of the skin to the deep layer is called inserting; pulling from the deep layer to the shallow layer is called withdrawing. Perform inserting and withdrawing to increase or decrease. Then twisting and rotating make the qi travel.

There are eight techniques for a needle:

  1. Twisting – 0 to 180’
  2. Rotating –180’ to 360’
  3. Withdrawing
  4. Inserting
  5. Heavy pressure
  6. Light pressure
  7. Fast
  8. Slow
Needling –  Inserting and Inserting


To get the Wei Qi you must, first of all, massage the acupuncture point with the tip your finger to feel the Qi. There are four levels. Then insert the needle to the shallow layer. Insert it directly, without twisting, through the skin and then stop.

Then insert slowly and heavily and take the fingers off the needle. (In Chinese, this  is called “fly.” It is as though the two fingers are wings and the needle is left unsupported. The time frame is very brief – only one or two seconds.)

Do this three times or more, pushing heavily and slowly. Wait one or two seconds. Slow and heavy. Over and over again until it feels warm or as if you have gotten something. When removing the needle, withdraw quickly and press the site.

Needling – Withdrawing and Withdrawing

There is a special technique for decreasing the energy: insert while twisting and inserting together.  Do this three or more times and you will eventually get to the layer you want. In this way, the acupuncturist can control the movement and add the increased energy.

When you are inserting the needle, it is better to twist within 90’ as this will allow you to better control of the qi so that, when you are inserting, it can’t go very deep.  What we normally do is back up a little bit and do a very minor reversing and twist. The twisting must be done gently and slowly. You must insert heavily and then withdraw slightly. Continue with this until the needle just gets the meridian Qi. Then stop.

You must do this maneuver slowly and carefully. Do not rotate the needle more than 160’. (I personally always do 90’ a number of times.) Withdraw a little bit and insert a little bit.  Don’t do this too fast – take your time – slowly.

We are decreasing the energy and must withdraw the needle from the deep layer to the shallow layer and then remove the needle and release the energy. And don’t press the point open, which means don’t press the point after needling as this will open the hole.

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