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Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine
Volume 2013, Article ID 750140, 15 pages
Review Article

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

1Center for Evidence-Based Medicine, Tianjin University of Traditional Chinese Medicine, 312 Anshanxi Road, Nankai District, Tianjin 300193, China
2Tianjin Institute for Clinical Evaluation, Tianjin University of Traditional Chinese Medicine, 88 Yuquan Road, Nankai District, Tianjin 300193, China

Received 19 April 2013; Revised 15 June 2013; Accepted 17 June 2013

Academic Editor: Cun-Zhi Liu

Copyright © 2013 Shuo Zhang et al. 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.


Objective. Despite the systematic literature review of the current evidence, we aim to answer the question “ is Deqi an indicator of clinical effects in acupuncture treatment?” Methods. We systematically searched CNKI, VIP, Wanfang Data, PubMed, Embase, and the CENTRAL for three types of study: (1) empirical research probing into the role of Deqi in acupuncture; (2) mechanism studies examining the effect of Deqi on physiological parameters in animal models and human subjects; (3) clinical studies that compared the outcome of acupuncture with Deqi with that of acupuncture without Deqi. Two reviewers independently extracted data, undertook qualitative or quantitative analysis, and summarized findings. Results. The ancient Chinese acupuncturists valued the role of Deqi as a diagnostic tool, a prognosis predictor, and a necessary part of the therapeutic procedure. Findings from modern experimental research provided preliminary evidence for the physiological mechanism that produced Deqi. Few clinical studies generated conflicting evidence of the comparative effectiveness of acupuncture with Deqi versus acupuncture without Deqi for a variety of conditions. Conclusion. The current evidence base is not solid enough to draw any conclusion regarding the predicative value of natural Deqi for clinical efficacy or the therapeutic value of manipulation-facilitated Deqi.