Changes of skin electrical potential in acupoints from Ren Mai and Du Mai conduits during Qigong practice: Documentation of a clinical phenomenon

J Bodyw Mov Ther. 2019 Oct;23(4):713-720. doi: 10.1016/j.jbmt.2019.02.021. Epub 2019 Feb 27.


Qigong is a therapeutic method of traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) that combines slow, soft movements and postures with breath control and a special mental state of 'awareness'. TCM holds that the practice of Qigong promotes the 'circulation of qi' in the human body, the 'flow' of upward yang qi and downward yin qi to establish 'balance'. In Western terms, this may be generally equivalent to vegetative homeostasis and the emotionally balanced state induced thereby. Researchers have often attempted to evaluate the functional movements of qi using measurements of the skin's electrical resistance. However, these methodologies have proven difficult to gauge, validate, repeat, and interpret. We aimed to overcome these limitations by measuring the skin's electrical potential between two points of the same system. The main goal of this study was to assess the skin's electrical potential changes in acupoints from the Ren Mai and Du Mai conduits, or meridians, as well as in other points of interest, during Qigong practice. While participants performed a specific Qigong exercise called 'White Ball', we observed significant changes in the skin electrical potential on Mìngmén (GV 4), Shèndáo (GV 11) and Baihuì (GV 20), from the Du Mai conduit, as well as on Huiyin (CV 1), Qìhai (CV 6), Zhongwan (CV 12) and Dànzhong (CV 17), from Ren Mai. These observations are in accordance with TCM theory and may contribute to the explanation of the vegetative physiological changes that are associated with 'qi flow' in TCM.

Keywords: Electric potential; Heidelberg model of TCM; Qigong; Vegetative biofeedback; qi.

MeSH terms

  • Acupuncture Points*
  • Adult
  • Electrodes
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Microcirculation / physiology
  • Pilot Projects
  • Qigong / methods*
  • Skin Physiological Phenomena*
  • Thermography