Is Deqi an Indicator of Clinical Efficacy of Acupuncture? A Systematic Review

Deqi (in Chinese pinyin, literally translated as “arrival of qi”) refers to a composite of sensations felt at the needling site after adequate needle insertion with or without proper manipulation. The production of such a special response of the human body is believed to be based on the flow of qi (energy) along channels referred to as meridians in the body. The term is also known as “needling sensation” in more contemporary textbooks and literatures [1]. Typically, the needling sensation is characterized by specific sensory perceptions such as soreness, numbness, distension, and heaviness. However, perceptions of Deqi vary with recipients, manipulation techniques, and the modes of acupuncture stimulation applied. Less frequently, acupuncture recipients may have feelings of coldness, warmth, itching, aching, or twitching, and such a sensation can sometimes be conducted from the needling site towards a more distant area along the meridian. In the meanwhile, the practitioner feels tenseness, drugging, sinking, and vibrations around the needle tail [2].