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Activating Acupuncture Points with Non-Needle Techniques by Acupuncturists & Other Types of Therapists


Discover more about the ancient roots and innovative applications of acupuncture points by embracing non-needle techniques for enhanced therapeutic outcomes.

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Candice Lambert

March, 2024


The energetic grid of the human body was mapped centuries ago in China. It is debatable as to whether the acupuncture points or the meridians were charted first. The meridian belief may have originated from propagated sensation during massage and the internal exploration of the body by meditation and Qi Gong. Knowledge of acupuncture points may have come later.  This idea gained precedence with the discovery of silk scrolls during excavation of the Western Han tomb at Mawangdui in the Hunan Province. This tomb dated back to the 2nd century BCE. The silk scrolls referred to the pathways of 11 channels, however, no points were described. (Deadman et al, 2001).

Acupuncture points have a significantly lower electrical resistance than the surrounding skin. (Auriculotherapy Seminars 2018). They have been activated (with dispersement or stimulation of Qi) over centuries with needles, heat (moxa), pressure, massage, cupping and meditative exercise such as Qi Gong. In the contemporary world other means of activation have been developed including laser, electroacupuncture, piezoelectricity (piezo pen), acupoint injection therapy and magnets.  Ancient techniques of healing such as essential oils, colour and crystal/gems are now being specifically used on acupuncture points. Even more recently vibration with tuning forks and tapping have been added.  

Chinese Medicines’ medical theory of points and meridians now forms a foundation for many contemporary therapies.  It is of great importance for Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) practitioners to be aware of this phenomenon. TCM in Australia has lost its exclusive use of the term acupuncture to other modalities who now can perform “acupuncture” and dry needling. Knowledge of how other therapists use the points will keep acupuncturists alert to new developments. 

Activation of acupuncture points using non-needle techniques among non-TCM practitioners includes neurolinguistic programmers teaching tapping to clients, kinesiologists using colour, crystal healers using gems and crystals, any energetic practitioner using vibration with tuning forks and aromatherapists and massage therapists using essential oils. It is the aim of this presentation to raise awareness among TCM practitioners about how other therapists use non-needle techniques on acupuncture points, their overall effectiveness and to encourage acupuncturists to use them too.

Foundation and post-foundation courses in acupuncture extensively cover many of the activation techniques described. This paper will outline recent point activation developed by other modalities, or ancient techniques now being used specifically on acupuncture points. 



Methods of Activation

Piezoelectricity (piezo pen). 

The development of this instrument is attributed to a Japanese medical doctor, Takeyoshi Yamaguchi (Auriculotherapy Seminars 2018). It is a portable electro-stimulator providing strong stimulation to acupuncture and trigger points via a short pulse wave when pressure and then release is applied to one end of the pen. The pen contains a tuned solid state ceramic quartz crystal  and the pressure  passes over the crystal causing a small piezo electric current to be transferred to the tip of the pen by a wire (lhasaoms, 2023, Auriculartherapy Seminars, 2018). It is used in the Eileen Han Balance Method of Acupuncture (Han, 2020). A comprehensive article can be found on the internet on the piezo pen. The unnamed author states they have no scientific proof as to how it works, nor can they find anyone who does. (Auriculotherapy Seminars 2018). The strong stimulation provided by the pen could be seen as the equivalent of stimulating acupuncture points with needle technique.


Magnets have been used for healing since antiquity in Greek, Chinese and Egyptian cultures. The use of magnetic rocks or lodestones was widespread, and the stones were thought to have essence or soul. Since then, the history of the healing use of magnets to the present time has been chequered. (Novella, 2010). The electrons in a magnetic substance mostly spin in the same direction and when another magnetic material enters that field a magnetic force is produced. Magnetism is the force exerted by two magnets when they attract or repel each other causing a loop of electricity to travel from the north to the south pole of the magnet. Even the Earth is a magnet. (National geographic, 2023 and QMagnets, 2023).

Static magnets can be used on acupuncture points to reduce pain. In Australia QMagnets have expanded on the usual bipolar quality of the magnetic field (north to south) and have made permanent multipolar magnets which are strategically placed on acupuncture points to decrease sensory nerve pain perception. Quadrapolar magnets were pioneered by Dr Robert Holcomb, a neurologist, in the 1980s with further development by James and Dianne Hermans from 2007 onwards. (QMagnets, 2023).

A literature review of the efficacy of magnets on acupuncture points concludes that further studies on this therapy is warranted, especially for the management of diabetes and insomnia. In general, many of the studies on magnets were of poor quality (Colbert et al, 2008).

This area is complex and many research methods fail to provide positive results as many researchers have a poor understanding of magnet theory and where to apply the magnets. The effectiveness of magnets depends on a variety of factors including the patient's condition, magnetic polarity design, strength of the magnetic field, application method and magnetic field gradient. Many magnetic products of the market are not effective. The QMagnet website has a comprehensive section on research for pain relief and some studies demonstrate a great deal of effectiveness (QMagnets, 2023).

Vibration with tuning forks.


Tuning forks therapy comes under the broad umbrella of sound healing. Sound healing is ancient, however the modern use of tuning forks for therapy originated from the work of Hans Cousto, a Swiss mathematician and musicologist who in 1978 began to develop therapeutic tuning forks for the human body. (Planetware, 2023).  There are a few different schools of tuning fork therapy. Acutonics was created over 20 years ago by Donna Carey, an acupuncturist and sound healer in the USA.  In this system two precision calibrated tuning forks of different frequencies are activated to use around the body or on the acupuncture points to create a therapeutic effect. (Acutonics Institute of Integrative Medicine, 2023).  Biofield Tuning has been created within the last 20 years by Eileen Day McKusick, a researcher in the field of sound therapy. The term Biofield refers to the electrical system that runs through our body and the magnetic field that surrounds it. The practitioner uses one fork to scan the Biofield. A turbulent area is calmed with the fork and the body responds accordingly. (Biofield Tuning, 2023). Studies in this area consist of a range of research projects and case studies available on the Acutonics website, with successful outcomes for patients ranging from anxiety to heart palpitations.  (Acutonics Institute of Integrative Medicine, 2023).


Tapping or Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT). 


EFT was founded in the 1990s by Gary Craig, a Stanford Engineer, and it is an offshoot of Thought Field Therapy. (Musci, 2018). The Australian Tapping Institute (ATI) states participants identify an issue they wish to address, rate the subjective distress and then use a verbal statement to both identify the issue and express self-acceptance. Whilst saying the statement the person taps a sequence of acupuncture points on the upper body, repeating it until their level of distress is much lower. The tapping process can be viewed on a video on the ATI  (Hollinger, 2023).

Reviews and meta-analysis of EFT demonstrate it is an evidence-based practice for certain psychological factors including anxiety, depression, phobias and PTSD, however, studies on the physiological effects are limited. One study replicated the effectiveness of EFT on psychological states, however also elucidated the effects the physiological state by monitoring the central nervous system (CNS) using heart rate variability (HRV) and heart coherence (HC), the circulatory system using resting heart rate (RHR) and blood pressure (BP), the endocrine system using cortisol and the immune system using salivary immunoglobulin A (Sig A). Significant improvements were found with RHR, cortisol and BP and positive trends were observed for HRV and HC. (Bach et al 2019).

A systematic review of the literature to identify randomised control trials and meta- analyses found Clinical EFT to be efficacious for a range of psychological and physiological conditions. These include anxiety depression, PTSD, pain, insomnia and autoimmune conditions. (Church et al, 2022). 

Others attribute the success of the method to the words used and not the tapping itself. They question the quality of the studies cited, quote the placebo effect and do not give much credence to anecdotal stories of success. (Musci, 2018).

Essential Oils. Aroma Acupoint Therapy.


Essential oils are oils which have been extracted from any part of a plant using steam or applied pressure. The “essential part,” refers to the essence of the plant or the natural chemical that produces a distinct odour or flavour. Their use dates back thousands of years (think of frankincense as a gift from the Magi). (Stierwalt, 2020) The use of essential oils on acupuncture points is called Aroma Acupoint Therapy and it is a very new therapy developed by Peter Holmes, a Chinese Medicine practitioner, clinical aromatherapist and medical herbalist.  The belief is that the essential oil will stimulate the acupuncture point in a similar way to needles to provide a particular action. For example, geranium is a female hormone regulator and can be used on Sp 6 and Ren 4. One to two drops of oil can be applied to the chosen point according to a treatment sequence of up to eight points. Further therapy such as massage or acupuncture can then be given. (Holmes and Pollard, 2017). 

A Study on the effectiveness of essential oils on acupuncture points was conducted on 15 adolescents with a mixture of symptoms ranging from headaches to dizziness using aroma acupoint therapy. The conclusion was that improvement occurred in most patients. (Fischer et al, 2020).  There is no evidence to show illness can be cured by oils or aromatherapy, however certain symptoms can be relieved, for example, the relief of acne with tea tree oil. Most studies have not yet extended to clinical trials. (Stierwalt, 2020).



Light therapy has been used since ancient Egypt and Russian research has shown light is conducted within the body along the acupuncture meridians. (Cocilovo, 1999).  Esogetic colorpuncture was created by Peter Mandel, a German naturopath and acupuncturist, over the last 40 years. It combines Chinese medical knowledge and other energetic healing systems with photon biophysics and the way light functions in the human body. It is also called acute-light therapy. A handheld instrument with insertable coloured glass rods directs different colours of light at the chosen acupuncture point in a particular sequence. (U.S. Esogetic Colorpuncture Institute, 2023).

Studies conducted in Europe in the 1990s showed improvement in conditions ranging from migraines to uterine fibroids. The limitations in researched design and sample size meant the studies should be viewed as pilot studies in this field. (Croke, 1999).

Crystals and Gems.


Crystals have been used for millennia in healing. The Romans, Greeks and Egyptians used them in ceremony, and Chinese healers used them in acupuncture sessions. Crystals are believed to vibrate at specific frequencies. When a crystal is placed in the electromagnetic field of a person it creates a larger field that interacts with their own and information from the crystal is transmitted into the nervous system and brain to balance the energy.  Certain types of crystals and crystal shapes can be used in treatment. Smoky quartz is dispersing, selenite moves Qi quickly and clear quartz can be used for anything depending on the intention of the practitioner. (Smith, 2021). The Egyptians were said to have shone sunlight through coloured gems, such as rubies and sapphires, onto people seeking healing. (Duffy Day, 2008).  Acutonics uses gem tips for their tuning forks to achieve different therapeutic effects. For example, the red garnet gem tip can clear negative energy from the chakras and yellow citrine can balance yin and yang energy. (Acutonics Institute of Integrative Medicine, 2023).  

There is a dearth of scientific research into crystal therapy. In 2001 the British Psychological Society conducted research on 80 volunteers into the effect of crystals on energy and concentration. It was concluded the power of placebo caused improvements in these two areas. (Surugue, 2018)   Dr David Hamilton, a scientist in the field of organic chemistry, has opened this discussion again with an explanation of how crystals work through a phenomenon called diamagnetism (a bending of the Earth’s magnetic field around the crystal) which can affect objects to the side of the crystal. The clarity of the crystal can be used for focus and meditation and the colour of the crystal can affect emotion (Hamilton 2021). 


TCM medical theory as regards acupuncture points and meridians is now providing a foundation of belief and practice for Non-TCM practitioners using non-needle techniques. Whilst it is encouraging that this medical theory is being used as an all encompassing belief system for many types of therapists, the TCM practitioner should remain aware of this phenomenon. Many of these non-needle techniques are giving positive therapeutic outcomes for clients and for certain people, such as the needle phobic, this is of great significance. TCM practitioners are encouraged to use them in their practice along with acupuncture.





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Bach, D. Groesbeck, G., Stapleton, P., Sims, R., Blickheuser, K., Church, D., (2019). Clinical EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique) Improves Multiple Physiological Markers of Health. Journal of Evidence - Based Integrative Medicine [Internet Abstract], Vol 24.

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Cocilovo, A., (1999). Colored Light Therapy: overview of its history, theory, recent developments and clinical applications combined with acupuncture. American Journal of Acupuncture [Internet Abstract], 27 (1-2) 71-83.

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Fischer, A.M.,Holmes, P., Bahar, Y.Z., Vacca, S., Goldberg, S., Gold, M. A., (2020). Aroma Acupoint Therapy for Symptom Management with Adolescent Patients: Early Experiences from School Based Health Centres. Medical Acupuncture 32(5) 287-292.

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Smith, M. (2021). Using Crystals in Acupuncture. [Internet:].


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Candice Lambert

Candice Lambert graduated from the Australian College of Natural Medicine with a Bachelor of Health Science (Acupuncture). She is a practicing acupuncturist in Brisbane, Australia and is a certified Acutonics practitioner.

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