[Influence of Therapeutic Qi on Heart Rate Variability in Acupuncture: a Randomized Controlled Study]

Forsch Komplementmed. 2015;22(6):389-93. doi: 10.1159/000442398. Epub 2015 Dec 3.
[Article in German]


Background: In a recent acupuncture study, volunteers were able to sense stimulation by ‘therapeutic Qi' even when mechanical and psychological causes were excluded. Here, we investigated if ‘therapeutic Qi' also influences the heart rate variability.

Methods: This was a controlled, randomized, single-blind crossover study with 30 volunteers. Using a special device, an acupuncture needle was inserted in the acupuncture point Pe6. With another device, the protruding end of the needle was fixed so that no transmission of mechanical movement to the tip was possible when the handle was touched. During the experimental intervention, the therapist touched the handle of the needle to stimulate Qi. During the control intervention, the needle was left untouched. During the null intervention, no needle was inserted. Before and after the interventions, parameters of heart rate variability (HRV) were measured.

Results: Between the 3 interventions no significant differences in HRV parameters were observed. From pre- to post-measurement the heart rate decreased in the control and experimental interventions (-2 min(-1), d = 0.24 and -2 min(-1), d = 0.24, respectively), RMSSD increased significantly when the needle was touched and Qi was stimulated (+9.7 ms, d = -0.32).

Conclusion: Within this setting the subjectively perceived stimulation with therapeutic Qi could not be confirmed by using objective HRV measures.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Acupuncture Therapy* / standards
  • Adult
  • Cross-Over Studies
  • Female
  • Heart Rate / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Perception
  • Qi*
  • Single-Blind Method
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Young Adult