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What is Chu Zhen/pestle needle (杵针)

Dr. Li Zhongyu (李仲愚) 1920-2003

Chu Zhen, or Pestle Needle is a representative acupuncture style from Sichuan, where I come from. Pestle Needle originates from Taoist medicine and Dao Ying (Qi guiding) practices. Li’s family’s ancestors learned the Pestle Needle technique from the Taoist Master Ru Huan in Wudang Mountain. From then on, it has passed through 16 generations. Prof. Li Zong Yu, the successor of the 14th generation, published the first book on Pestle Needle in the 1970s. Now it’s a unique and effective therapeutic approach.

The pestle needle therapy originates from the “nine needles” of Huangdi’s Internal Classic (Huangdi Neijing) and is rooted in the theory of channels, I Ching, and Taoist medicine. Especially, it’s philosophic foundation comes from Yi Jing/I Ching (Book of Chang) within which the Li (philosophic foundation), Qi (energy flow), Xiang (manifestations), and Shu (ancient mathematics ) theories are widely used in differentiation, selecting points, and arranging needles.

Unlike the filiform needle technique, the pestle needles do not penetrate the skin; rather they are a set of clubbed needles used to rub or press the acupoints and meridians of the body. Different pestle needles focus on stimulating different parts of the body through different manipulations.

Because Pestle Needle is a combination of puncturing and Tuina (Chinese Medical Massage), it is clinically featured with

  1. no skin puncture

  2. simple tools

  3. simplified points selection (mostly Du and Ren points, Shu and Mu points)

  4. simple manipulation and technique, safety (for elderly, weak body, female, kids).

During the last 40 years of development, Pestle Needle has been particularized in the whole China and abroad. Thanks to its wide range of indications (similar use as conventional acupuncture), It is widely used in hospitals, nursing houses and private clinics.

In treatment, four pestle-like needles press, massage, tap, and push on points. There are two specific points combinations are applied in Pestle Needles:

Bazhen Points in Pestle Needle

  1. Ba Zhen (八阵): 8 points surrounding the middle point, based on the theory of Eight Trigrams

  2. He Che Lu (河车路): 7 Lines along the Du and Ren meridians, based on Taoist Qigong.

Clinical use of Pestle needle

  1. Japaries W, Wen B, Zhang H. Pestle Needle (Chu Zhen) Treatment for Neck Pain. Medical Acupuncture, 2022, April, 5


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