Lesser Number of Needle Insertion Leads to Better Treatment Effect

△Inserting three needles on a pain located and add an acupuncture point, which acts as an AEF. This technique will give you a faster and more effective pain-relieving sensation to your patients. ImageⓒAdobeStock_Bordin.

Underlying Theories of Acupuncture Treatment (21)

How to Apply an Acupuncture Point that Works as an Axis of Energy Flow (AEF)

By Brandon SJ Oh, L.Ac.

It works if you insert a needle on the location of the pain. But if you first insert a needle on the acupuncture point that expels pathogen and preserves the Essential Qi treatment effect, it will be more effective. The point is located on the same level as where the pain detected and could expel pathogen and preserve Essential Qi is called an Axis of Energy Flow (AEF).

For example, if a patient complains of left elbow pain near LI11, use LI11 on the right first, and LI11 on the right side works as an AEF, and as soon as the AEF is used, the patient’s body starts the treatment.


If you want to make your treatment more useful, you can add more needles after inserting AEF.

I experienced that only taking an AEF resolves more of my patient’s pain, but it will be required to insert needles on where the pain is located to eliminate pathogens on the pain area.

There are two possibilities for applying to AEF. One is we are dealing with a patient with strong and healthy. We also need to treat patients with less energy or those who have Essential Qi deficiency. Treatment for two different groups should be different.


First, I will explain a case with a full or normal amount of Essential Qi with musculoskeletal pain.

If you want to reduce pain caused by a sprain/strain on the ankle and the most painful area is on GB40, insert a needle on the other side of GB40, which is the opposite side of the painful area as AEF. The AEF act to prevent to flow of Essential Qi to the painful part of the boy.


Then, insert other needles on the pain area to eliminate the pathogen on the pain point. The procedure prevents the possibility of transforming Essential Qi to pathogen and localizing a pathogen elimination process through acupuncture treatment on the pain point.


Now, this is a treatment of a patient with Essential Qi deficiency. If you do not follow precautions, you will have a higher chance of causing vasovagal responses associated with acupuncture therapy. Guess a patient with Essential Qi deficiency and also hurt his or her ankle on a GB40. And you like to use AEF to reduce pain and swollenness. The needle on the other side of GB40 will serve as a strong stimulator to bring most of the Qi from the upper body to the lower body. The sudden Qi descending after insertion of the needle will cause dizziness or light headache. To prevent advert reaction for patients with Qi deficiency, there will be two ways for treating sprain/strain with the application of AEF.


For this case, you use GB34 as AEF for treating pain on a GB40 instead of using the other GB40. A reason for substitute GB40 is to prevent an advert reaction. GB34 is a Coordinating balance of Qi flow and are on the same meridian of the Gall Bladder. Once a practitioner inserts a needle on a GB34, the opposite side of painful the GB40, then next needles could be placed on where the patient feels pain. That is one way of using AEF for Essential Qi deficiency patients.


The next way is using theory for the same-named meridian for the upper and lower body. It can be easily determined that a pathogen’s location is on the Foot Less Yang Gall Bladder. Hand Less Yang Triple Burner shares the same energy as Foot Less Yang Gall Bladder. Therefore, TE4 could substitute the function of GB40 as AEF.

There is a thing you always remember. The acupuncture technique using AEF requires that the amount of stimulation by acupuncture needle insertion should be greater than when a patient complains. To generate enough stimulation through the technique, you have to rotate needles placed on the pain area until it stops the needles’ rotation. Once you feel resistance that does not allow you more rotation, you can briefly stop and rotate a little more for creating pain for the patient.


The same rotation of needle could be used for treating a patient with paralysis to restore normal muscle contraction or movements.

As you adding needles to the pain location to expel a pathogen, make sure each needle is on the heaven, earth, and human channel. If you place a needle on each of the three channels, enhance a process to eliminate a pathogen. Imagine you put your spoon on your hot pot. Three spoons cool your pot a lot faster than putting a spoon.

But too much is as bad as too little. Some might think more needles on the pain point could help reducing pain faster. Unfortunately, it is not valid. More than three needles insertion on the pain location easily attracts more than enough amount of Essential Qi to the needles. It weakens the AEF point function, which is holding and controlling the amount of Essential Qi flow to the painful body parts. Also, the depth of a needle insertion should be inserted as deep as to the facia. Each needle tip is supposed to touch the facia for a stronger treatment effect.