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Salih, Norbert; Baeumler, Petra I.; Simang, Michael; Irnich, Dominik (2010): Deqi sensations without cutaneous sensory input: results of an RCT. In: BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine 10:81


Background: Deqi is defined in relation to acupuncture needling as a sensory perception of varying character. In a recently published sham laser validation study, we found that subjects in the verum and the sham laser group experienced deqi sensations. Therefore, we aim to further analyze whether the perceptions reported in the two study arms were distinguishable and whether expectancy effects exhibited considerable impact on our results. Methods: A detailed re-analysis focusing on deqi sensations was performed from data collected in a previously published placebo-controlled, double-blind, clinical cross-over trial for a sham laser evaluation. Thirty-four healthy volunteers (28 +/- 10.7 years; 16 women, 18 men) received two laser acupuncture treatments at three acupuncture points LI4 (hegu), LU7 (lieque), and LR3 (taichong); once by verum laser and once using a sham device containing an inactive laser in randomized order. Outcome measures were frequency, intensity (evaluated by visual analogue scale; VAS), and quality of the subjects' sensations perceived during treatments (assessed with the "acupuncture sensation scale"). Results: Both, verum and the sham laser acupuncture result in similar deqi sensations with regard to frequency (p-value = 0.67), intensity (p-value = 0.71) and quality (p-values between 0.15 - 0.98). In both groups the most frequently used adjectives to describe these perceptions were "spreading"