Blood Letting / Pricking Treatment

What happened to bloodletting?


is the withdrawal of blood from a specific point on body of patient to prevent or treat illness and disease. Bloodletting is based on an ancient system of medicine in which blood and other bodily fluids were regarded as "humours" that had to remain in proper balance to maintain health. Bloodletting by leeches is practiced in Ayurveda even today for similar effect. Application of bloodletting leeches is claimed to have been the most common medical practice performed by doctors from antiquity until the late 19th century, a span of almost 2,000 years.

Bloodletting was used particularly for pain relief and treatment of emergency cases, such as loss of consciousness, high fever, and swellings. Peripheral points of the fingers and toes are mostly used for blood-letting therapy. In most cases, Peripheral blood-letting is generally accompanied by acupuncture treatment, such KI-3, LV-3, and LV 2 as foot/ankle points and PC-6, LI-4, and LU-7 as the hand/wrist points, which may add significantly to the therapeutic outcome.

Mode of action of Bloodletting

It is somewhat difficult to explain bloodletting benefits of therapy in modern terms, and, therefore, requires some investigation and research before any substantial claims of effectiveness can be made. Results are prompt and dramatic results from the therapy, suggesting that its efficacy should be easy to confirm using short-term trials. I feel effect is most likely to be due to stimulation of nerve fibres of blood vessels which are interconnected throughout the body through circulatory system. It is for this reason bleeding at finger tips and toe tips which are most innervated areas of body when stimulated effect is seen at distant organs because they are connected by nerve fibres of blood vessels. However Benefits of Bloodlettingare established.

Micro-System Techniques

The bloodletting technique uses a three-edged needle, lancet, or pricking needle and its dispenser to prick certain points to bleed for better blood circulation. There are four different bloodletting procedures: pinching and pricking, clumpy pricking, break pricking, and collateral pricking.

Pinching and Pricking Technique

Use the routine clean needle technique, and then use the left thumb, index finger, and middle finger to hold the operated area. The practitioner then applies heavy pressure to cause slight redness and swelling. Use one hand to hold the three-edged needle and prick quickly about 0.05 to 0.1 inch deep for bloodletting. Withdraw the needle immediately and squeeze out a few drops of blood. Press the puncture hole with a sterilized, dry cotton ball to stop the bleeding. This technique of bloodletting treatment is mostly used at the end of the extremities, such as the hands, feet, and ears in the micro-acupuncture system.

Clumpy Pricking Technique
Make multiple pricks around a small area of redness or swelling rather than a particular point. Puncture the skin for bloodletting or use in combination with cupping. This technique is mostly used for toxic swelling, Bi syndrome, or skin ulcers.

Break Pricking Technique
This technique is used on the chest, abdomen, back, head, and face. The point is shallow and skin or muscles are thin. Use one hand to hold the needle and insert it into the skin to lift up and break the skin. This is used to release infection, tumors, and toxicity.

Collateral Pricking Technique
Use a rubber band to tie the upper section or lower section of the point. Puncture slowly with the three-edge needle into the superficial vein about 0.5 to 1.0 fen deep and release the needle slowly for bloodletting. Release the rubber band and wait until dark blood becomes red blood. Apply pressure to the puncture hole with a sterilized, dry cotton ball to stop the bleeding. This technique is used on the superficial vein to release blood. It is useful for problems of the head and the four extremities.

In the micro-system, the bloodletting technique is most commonly used for hand acupuncture, foot acupuncture, and ear acupuncture. The clumpy pricking technique is usually used in the back Shu system.

Blood Letting Points suggested by in Skya Abbate, DOM Acupuncture Today.


Acupuncture plus bloodletting therapy for insomnia in blood stasis constitution a clinical study

“Conclusion Acupuncture plus bloodletting therapy can produce a more significant efficacy than oral administration of estazolam in treating insomnia in people with blood stasis constitution.”


“Conclusion Acupuncture anaesthesia at Hegu (LI 4) and Quchi (LI 11) is an effective means of alleviating the pain of pricking-bloodletting cupping and reducing the duration of pain in the treatment area. Pricking-bloodletting cupping at Dazhui (GV 14) improves the skin lesions of patients with moderate acne vulgaris, but acupuncture anaesthesia does not appear to have an additional therapeutic effect.”


“These findings suggest that bloodletting acupuncture to the engorged vein around the ipisilateral Bl-40 (Wei-Chung) has a substantial contribution for treatment of acute lumbar sprain.”


“CONCLUSION: The pricking blood therapy combined with acupuncture is an effective therapy for herpes zoster.”