The Biological Safety of Stainless Steel Needles Used in Warm-Needling
Warm-needling (also called thermo-acupuncture) is a combination of acupuncture and moxibustion. Due to the intense heat involved, there have been concerns over the biological safety of the acuneedles used in the treatment. This paper reports two phases of a safety test. For a preliminary test, we compared the temperature change patterns of stainless steel (SS304) needles and traditional gold alloy needles, which have been increasingly replaced by the former. To verify the effects of the presence of coating materials, the main test involved three different kinds of SS304: silicone-coated, salicylic acid-coated and non-coated needles. Each group of needles was tested for pH level, heavy metals and UV absorbance spectrum along with biological tests on the cytotoxicity and hemolysis of the needle. All the tests on the extractants from the needles were negative. In the biological tests, each test result showed a significant difference from the positive control samples, while no significant difference was observed compared with the negative control samples. In the hemolysis tests, all samples satisfied the Korean Government Standards. All the results suggest that SS304 needles are biologically safe to be used in warm-needling, though they can be improved to perform as well as the gold alloy needles in terms of temperature fluctuations.