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Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine
Volume 2012 (2012), Article ID 591304, 10 pages
Research Article

Investigation of Acupuncture Sensation Patterns under Sensory Deprivation Using a Geographic Information System

1Pain & Autonomics-Integrative Research (PAIR), Department of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy, Jena University Hospital, 07743 Jena, Germany
2Institute for Physical Geography, Goethe University, 60438 Frankfurt am Main, Germany

Received 20 July 2012; Revised 30 August 2012; Accepted 3 September 2012

Academic Editor: Wolfgang Schwarz

Copyright © 2012 Florian Beissner and Irene Marzolff. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


The study of acupuncture-related sensations, like deqi and propagated sensations along channels (PSCs), has a long tradition in acupuncture basic research. The phenomenon itself, however, remains poorly understood. To study the connection between PSC and classical meridians, we applied a geographic information system (GIS) to analyze sketches of acupuncture sensations from healthy volunteers after laser acupuncture. As PSC can be subtle, we aimed at reducing the confounding impact of external stimuli by carrying out the experiment in a floatation tank under restricted environmental stimulation. 82.4% of the subjects experienced PSC, that is, they had line-like or 2-dimensional sensations, although there were some doubts that these were related to the laser stimulation. Line-like sensations on the same limb were averaged to calculate sensation mean courses, which were then compared to classical meridians by measuring the mean distance between the two. Distances ranged from 0.83 cm in the case of the heart (HT) and spleen (SP) meridian to 6.27 cm in the case of the kidney (KI) meridian. Furthermore, PSC was observed to “jump” between adjacent meridians. In summary, GIS has proven to be a valuable tool to study PSC, and our results suggest a close connection between PSC and classical meridians.