Subjective effects of Qi in acupuncture therapies

Many people experience subjective sensations during and after acupuncture type treatments (such as cupping, moxa, gua sha, electro and laser therapies) as well as qigong therapy. With  the Effects of qi are also the sensational effects that emerge from qi sensation felt by the practitioners, those who perform the above therapies and emit external waiqi to treat others and those patients respectively.

When qi dirigation (the power of controlling or modifying involuntary bodily functions, such as the pulse, temperature, or digestion) reaches a certain stage there appear effects of qi such as a ‘pressing and moving’ sensation. When a practitioner conducts qi by any means,  his body tends to have various sensations such as the phenomena of ‘eight touches’, i.e. pain, itching, cold, and warm, lightness, heaviness, astringency and slip. Other reported sensations are largeness, smallness, lightness, and heaviness, and cold, heat, itching and tingling. Of course there may appear still more subjective qi sensations in the process of qi therapy. These phenomena are all manifestations of the well trained skill and qi accomplishments of teh practitioner and the free circulation of qi in the channels and collaterals and the different forms of genuine qi moving inside the body. For example, when tranquilization is achieved in qi dirigation, genuine qi is circulated freely, the capillaries are expanding and various parts of the body have a filling and expanding sensation, the practitioner or patient may feel their body to be very tall and large. When qi enters from the outside to gather at Dantian (lower abdomen) the practitioner or patient may have the sensation of a very small body. When genuine qi sinks down in exhalation the body may feel heavy as a rock so solid that nothing can remove it. When genuine qi circulates through the heart and kidney, the kidney yang is sufficient, and the kidney fluids full, the body may have a comfortable sensation of pleasant cool. Whereas when genuine qi is vigorous and thermal qi is amassed the parts of the body which qi passes through may have a hot sensation. Itching of the skin and scalp is also an inevitable process, because the channel and minute collaterals are obstructed at ordinary times, once the genuine qi passes through the channels the parts of the body where it passes often have a creeping electrical sensation as the pathways open. These phenomena are all normal effects of qi dirigation which are active and conductive. There should be no alarm or panic if they occur and no curiosity and pursuit for them either. As long as qi dirigation is carried on peacefully and calmly the sensations will disappear spontaneously in a period of time.

At times there may be a hot sensation all over the body and slight perspiration especially at the abdomen and the four limbs may have a warm sensation. This phenomenon indicates that the functional activities of qi are brisk and active and genuine qi is gathering and accumulating. A slight perspiration is suitable but profuse sweating is contraindicated.

The freshness and vigor of spirit is usually correspondent with a tranquil state and can be sustained for considerable periods of time after the therapy.

Gastrointestinal peristalsis is accelerated while the appetite is whetted; it is not uncommon for practitioners to experience borborygmus (digestive noises) and increased appetite during therapy and both are indications of a strong central qi.

Itching of the skin, stirring of the muscles and joints manifest that the functional activities of qi in the body are vigorous and brisk. Such phenomena tend to be found at the terminus of the limbs and as a general rule these sensations can disappear naturally.

When qi dirigation reaches a certain stage there may appear flashing lights before the eyes like lightning or sometimes swaying back and forth like a neon light, sometimes piercing the brain glitteringly through the spinal column and sometimes appearing as a light ball rotating at high speed through the front and back mid-line of the body, usually for three circuits. These phenomena appear and disappear spontaneously. If a practitioner has achieved a great deal of accomplishment in qigong a light ball or light beam may exist constantly at the acupoint Bai hui (vertex of the head). The degree of light sensation and the colors of light may vary in accordance with the degree of the practitioner’s qi accomplishments.

When practicing acupuncture therapies or emitting qi, the achieved therapist can sense genuine qi and pathogenic qi inside of the body or at the region emitting external waiqi to diagnose and treat disease in accordance with these subjective qi sensations. The sensation of genuine qi is felt as slightly hot, or cool, tingling, oppressing or tugging sensations at the regions emitting waiqi. There can also be a sensation of the circulation, density, direction and amount of one’s own qi.

When a therapist emits waiqi towards the patient to treat diseases most patients produce some effects of qi such as a ‘radioactive’ sensation or the sense that the patient is being physically touched or the sensations that are felt in qi dirigation such as cold, hot, oppression, tugging, creeping, tingling, heaviness, lightness, floating, sinking or other sensations. This kind of effect of qi sensation results from the channel qi circulating and acting on the foci among which hot cold, tingling, etc sensations are the commonest.

When a therapist emits waiqi to treat diseases, involuntary dynamic phenomena can appear on the patient instantly or gradually in local parts of the limbs or the whole body. In some cases muscles slightly stir, while in other cases the limbs or body produce dramatic movements. This is the phenomena of waiqi inducing spontaneous movement.

Some patients, on receiving waiqi may experience photo-electrical phenomena, there may be electrical sensations on the limbs and on other cases light patterns can be seen in different forms, most of which present as round sheet or lightning patterns.

Some patients experience sounds or noises such as rustling rumbling and squeaking sounds while other patients experience specific kinds of smells and give various responses such as the sweet scent of sandalwood or the fragrances of flowers.

Among the above mentioned phenomena of effects the qi sensation is the most common, dynamic phenomenon. Some sensations are relatively rare and the others even more so. These subjective sensations are a result of personal sensitivity and some patients feel no effects of qi sensation whatsoever when receiving external qi treatment but still achieve very good therapeutic effect.

Yours in good health.

Robert Kienitz, DTCM