Are there really the univeral fixed time for acupuncture treatment to be effective, regardless of what symptoms and how old, male or female and so on? If not, how long should be that, what is the scientific or theoretical background behind it?
Since I, myself have some different needle retention time for different patient with different health issues, It would be better for people having acupuncture or planning to have acupuncture to understand the different acupuncture treatment time.
There have been people asking me of the needle retention time or actual treatment time. Some seem to believe that the longer is the better in having needles on the body, some want to know why I give the different duration for each different condition and so on. Then why some acupuncturists give longer time (some longer than 30 min, even 1 hour) and some shorter(10min)?
1. 15-20 minutes : The Nan Jing-The Classic of Difficulties, Chapter 23
According to The Nan Jing , Qi and Blood move through the meridians at the rate of six cun* for each complete inhalation and exhalation. The total length of the Meridians and Collaterals equals 1620 cun. 1620 divided by 6 equals 270, so it is said that 270 breaths are required for Qi to make one complete cycle through the body. However, this number could vary based on a person’s breath rate. If a person breathes 14 times/minute, it will take 20 minutes (270/14) for Qi to make a complete cycle. If a person breathes 18 times/minute, only 15 minutes (270/18) will be needed for Qi to make the complete cycle. Therefore needle retention time can be calculated around 15-20 minutes.
*Cun: about 3cm
And also many studies and researches in acupuncture analgesia have been showing after 15-20 min of acupuncture, Pain threshold increased.
2. 30min: The Ling Shu-Spiritual Pivot, Chapters 15 & 18
the Qi and Blood circulated through the channels 50 times per day. Since 24 hours equals 1440 minutes, dividing 1440 by 50, we get the 28 minutes and 48 seconds. This is where we get the guideline for approximately 30 minutes of needle retention time.
Some renowned acupuncturists put the needle over less than 5 locations and stimulate intensely and when they see the positive effect as expected, those needles are taken off or stay less than 5 minute.
They claim that once your brain picks up the signal from the needle and starts secreting the neurotransmitter for the pain relief or whatsoever and your patients show the improvement, you don’t really have to leave the needles any more.
Some practitioners report that the best results where achieved after 45 minutes of retaining the needles. Master Tung style acupuncture also used needle retention of 45 minutes, in which he stimulated the points every 15 minutes. Some Korean acupuncturist who does Korean taoistic technique gives 1hr- 2hr needle retention to balance the whole body Qi.
So many factors are there to choose the right acupuncture time; each patient’s condition or the different season or even weather condition or the specific acupuncture technique that your acupuncturist performs. Therefore I strongly believe that choosing the right time is solely up to your acupuncturist’s differentiation, diagnosis and treatment plan for the best results and what kind of acupuncture technique he or she performs.
More Information about Acupuncture: Tao of Medicine, Acupuncture and Wellness – The WAY to the Life and Health