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Electro Acupuncture

Electro Acupuncture

Electro acupuncture was first used in China during the 1930€™s and came to the attention of the West when American doctors visited China in the 1970€™s and were amazed to discover acupuncture apparently being used as the sole analgesic for major operations [1]. After in insertion of an acu-needle to an acu-point and the Qi has been obtained, an electric current is passed through the needle both to strengthen and alter the nature of stimulation. This is the general method and function of Electro Acupuncture, which I shall expand on, in the following paragraphs.

Electro acupuncture should only be used if the patient is able to demonstrate tolerance to regular electro acupuncture as in application involves both needle stimulation and electrical stimulation. Some of the main reasons why and when a practitioner would introduce this method in a regular treatment, (without going into the special circumstances where EA is specialized for eg. analgesic acupuncture) are:

  • To be used as a substitute for long duration’s of manual manipulation, so that the practitioner can focus on other areas or clients.
  • The amount of stimulation can be more objectively measured and regulated by adjusting the current, amplitude and frequency.
  • Electro acupuncture is able to produce a higher and more continuous level of stimulation than manual manipulation.
  • With electro accupuncture it is possible to apply the current through an electrode on the skin surface with no need of a needle to be inserted. [2]

The general method for application of electro acupuncture follows fairly straightforward guidelines. Firstly, the machine should not be turned on until the needles have been inserted and the conducting wires are in place and attached to the needles. The negative lead is attached to the needle(s) whence the electron flow starts. This is usually at the lower extremities of the Yin channels and the upper extremities of the Yang channels. The positive lead is attached to the needle(s) where the flow is directed. This lead can be centripetal along the same channel, at focusing points on the trunk of the body, or on the other extremity of the same channel. To achieve a tonification effect, low-frequency impulse between 2 and 8 hertz is required [3]. At the beginning however the electrical potential should be set to zero and the current only gradually increased and the patient should be monitored.


1  Medical Acupuncture A Western Scientific Approach, Jacqueline Filshie & Adrien White, Church Livingstone, 1998, UK

2  Acupuncture A comprehensive Text, Shanghai College of Traditional Medicine, O’Connor & Bensky, Eastland Press,1993,NY

3  Acupuncture Energetics A Clinical Approach for Physicians, Joseph M. Helms, Medical Acupuncture Publishers, 1995, USA