About "Acupuncture Qi", and what’s it all about?

John F. Wetling, Architect
Email: john@wetling.dk


By using well-known physical explanations and controlled experiments the aim of this article is to prove that the very old non-scientific explanation of acupuncture Qi can now be replaced by a modern scientific version. Qi can, according to this article, be shown to be Ionically Transferred Energy, which is actually electrical energy. The use of traditional acupuncture by inserting needles in the skin is a non-controlled method, while the new Qi definition describes a method in control.


In the last decade it has been reported that the Chinese have put huge resources into experiments to determine the existence of natural Qi, but so far without any success.

Qi has been defined as the "force" or "vital substance" that animates and controls the observable functions of living beings. The basic foundation for Asian medicine is that this vital substance flows through the body on channels known as meridians that connect all of our major organs.

Qi is, according to Chinese medical theory the natural energy of the Universe, formed by yin and yang, two equal but opposite forces in the universe, and illness arises when the cyclical flow of Qi in the meridians becomes unbalanced or is blocked.

According to the Chinese medical theory Qi is also defined as being undetectable by the methods of empirical science, and Qi is also according to what we have been told a by the Chinese a part of the weather in the universe.

Why is this energy Qi, although called "natural," defined as a spiritual or supernatural part of a metaphysical state, and not measurable in an empirical belief system? The explanation that has been given so far on Qi, makes no since from a scientific point of view. Looking from the sidelines, it seems that everybody is just listening to the old transmitted explanations forgetting what we have learnt from physics.

In my opinion, Qi can be scientifically proven, and that is what this article is about.

Gaseous ions 1)

To be able to understand what Qi is from a scientific point of view, it is necessary to look at some very well documented phenomena.

In the lower part of the atmosphere electrically charged particles are constantly being produced by nature itself. They are called gas-ions and are mostly separated in negative oxygen molecules and positive nitrogen molecules.

Could it be

That this atmospheric electrical particle might constantly send a current through any grounded organism, resulting in a kind of energy.

That this effect might be more intense if a kind of antenna was inserted into the skin of a person being connected to a well-grounded point.

That these particles might create the energy Qi.

That this particle, equal but opposite in their force, is the same as those being called yin /yang.

To find the answer to those questions it is necessary to look into what we know about atmospheric physics.

Atmospheric air consists mainly of nitrogen (80%) and oxygen (20%).

A nitrogen molecule consists of two nitrogen atoms, which each have 7 electrons around their nucleus in two levels. An oxygen molecule also consists of two oxygen atoms, each with 8 electrons around the nucleus in two levels.

If a sufficient amount of energy is delivered to a nitrogen or oxygen molecule1), an electron may be released, and the molecule will then have an extra positive charge.

The charged molecule is called a positive elementary ion, and it will quickly attract a number of water molecules, maybe 10-12, to form a small cluster called a positive air-ion.

The electron that was released will move between the molecules of the air, and if the electron meets an oxygen molecule, it is likely that it will attach to that and form a negative elementary ion.

If the electron meets a nitrogen molecule, it is most likely that it will just go back. Nitrogen is said to be electropositive.

The negative elementary ion (a single-charged oxygen molecule) will also attract a number of water molecules, maybe 8-10, and form a cluster, which is called a negative air-ion.

A negative air ion will therefore most likely contain an (negatively charged) oxygen molecule, whereas a positive ion can contain an (positively charged) oxygen molecule as well as a (positively charged) nitrogen molecule.

The ionising process 1) 2)

The natural energy required to release the electron (the ionising process) will, in the open, usually come from a) radioactive radiation and b) cosmic radiation, and as such processes take place everywhere, there will always be ions around us.

a) Radioactive radiation 7)

Most of the ionising processes in the lower part of the atmosphere result from the radiation of radioactive material in the air and on the surface of the earth.

b) Cosmic radiation 7)

In the higher atmosphere the ionising process is a result of so-called cosmic radiation, a very powerful particle radiation from the universe.

Even though the production of ions at a given place is more or less constant, the concentration of ions may vary considerably over time due to variations in the local air pollution.

Electric field 2) 3) 4)

In the air, at least out-doors, there is an electric field, which induces a force on the ions, and put simply, this means that the ions are not just floating in the air, but they have a tendency to attach to subjects, which are more or less grounded.

In fair-weather conditions (i.e. with no thunder), the field will be directed towards the ground, and in flat horizontal areas the field will be homogeneous and have a value of about (150 V m-1) as illustrated in figure 1 below.


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Fig. 1.

Homogeneous atmospheric field at ground level

Field strength 150 V (m-1


The origin of the atmospheric electric field is thunderstorms. At any given time, about 2,000 thunderstorms are active, creating a voltage difference of around 300,000 volts, between the lower part of the ionosphere and the ground.

The field will make airborne charged particles move, the positive particles in the direction of the field, and the negative particles in the opposite direction.

The most important of the charged particles are the atmospheric ions.

The field-induced motion of the positive ions constitutes a current to the ground with an average value of about 3 pA.m-2 (3(10-12 A(m-2).

If the surface considered is not horizontal, the situation changes dramatically. Figure 2 shows the field around a sharp structure, like a mountain ridge or maybe just the roof of a house.



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Fig. 2

Inhomogeneous atmospheric field around a mountain ridge or the roof of a house.

Field strength 1000 – 2000 V(m-1


The field will no longer be homogeneous, but is said to be distorted, having values in the order of 1,000-2,000 V.m-1, i.e. about 10 times the value of a horizontal surface.

Consequently, the current to the ground will be about 10 times as dense. A special case of a strongly distorted field is shown in Fig. 3.

Here we have a house supplied with a (grounded) lightning rod. Above the house is a thundercloud with a negative base. Notice that the direction of the field lines is the opposite of that in fair-weather conditions, as shown in Figures 1 and 2.


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Field between lightning rod and thundercloud.

Maximum field strength 3-4 MV (m-1


The field strength has its highest value at the tip of the rod, and if the field strength here exceeds a critical value, the breakdown field strength of 3-4 MV.m-1 (3-4 million volt per metre), an electric discharge takes place.

The discharge may take the form of a silent corona discharge or it may start a violent and dramatic lightning discharge.

The field strengths, and also the currents, will be much larger than in fair-weather conditions, but the point is that in both cases, a distortion of the electric field, caused by a sharp or pointed "electrode" will increase the current from the atmosphere to the electrode.

Acupuncture, atmospheric ions and the electric field

Figure 4 shows a finger into which an acupuncture needle has been inserted.


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Fig. 4

Field around acupuncture needle


The finger (and the rest of the body) is assumed to be grounded and placed in a positive field, i.e. a field directed towards any grounded objects. In the absence of the needle, the current to the finger, caused by the field, will be distributed more or less evenly over the finger.

The needle, however, will distort the field and concentrate the current to the needle and hence to the point where the needle is inserted. Now, the question obviously arises: What is the probability of the body being in an electric field?

First of all, it should be stressed that the outdoor atmospheric electric field, discussed in Figs. 1, 2 and 3, is shielded almost 100% by most building materials.

On the other hand, (weak) electric fields are almost always present, even in indoor environments, originating from people moving or insulating materials incidentally being charged. And at the same time, there are always ions present in the atmosphere, originating primarily from decay of naturally occurring airborne nuclides. As a consequence, weak currents will constantly be flowing to the body, the direction depending on the origin of the fields in the environment.

As explained above, the insertion of needles in the skin may increase the current to selected parts of the body, and it is obvious that it is possible to increase the magnitude of the fields as well as of the ion concentrations, and thus of the resulting current by using well-established principles of physics.


Current to be flowing the body 5)

From a scientific point of view then, we may now have the explanation of the mysterious Qi, and if it could be proved that a grounded person is allowing a weak current to be flowing through the body from the atmosphere, and that this current could be increased by an inserted needle, then this could be the final proof in the scientific understanding of acupuncture Qi.

In order to do that, I asked D. Sc. Niels Jonassen from the Technical University of Denmark if he could to set up a series of trials that could show if I was right, or not.

Niels Jonassen, MSc, DSc, worked for 40 years at the Technical University of Denmark, where he conducted classes in electromagnetism, static and atmospheric electricity, airborne radioactivity, and indoor climate.


Niels Jonassen made the following article 6)

(Bellowed a short vision, the whole article is published in Compliance Engineering)


It has been suggested that a flow of unipolar atmospheric ions plating out on the skin of a grounded person gives rise to effects similar to those claimed to be associated with acupuncture.1 If it is assumed that a static electric field exists around the person, the needle will distort the field (see Figure 1) and attract (more) atmospheric ions to the person. The ions will be neutralized when arriving at the needle, resulting in a current through the body, possibly along meridians or other paths of low resistance.

I decided to demonstrate this effect. However, the currents involved in these processes are very low (on the order of 10–14 A, or even lower). Therefore, it would have been extremely difficult to measure directly the current flowing to a person caused by an acupuncture needle. Even a person's unavoidable movements (e.g., breathing) would interfere negatively with the measurements.

It was decided to try to simulate the situation shown in Figure 1. The setup used for the simulation is shown in Figure 2. Between two metallic field plates (0.35 x 0.35 m2) at a distance d, an electric field is established. One plate was connected to a high-voltage supply; the other plate was virtually grounded through an electrometer. The field plates were placed about 0.5 m above the floor in an approximately 70-m3 room. The electrometer was connected to a recorder because the presence of persons in the room during measurements would interfere with the results.



It was decided to try to simulate the situation shown in Figure 5. The setup used for the simulation is shown in Figure 6. Between two metallic field plates (0.35 x 0.35 m2) at a distance d, an electric field is established. One plate was connected to a high-voltage supply; the other plate was virtually grounded through an electrometer. The field plates were placed about 0.5 m above the floor in an approximately 70-m3 room. The electrometer was connected to a recorder because the presence of persons in the room during measurements would interfere with the results.


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Figure 5. Electric field around an acupuncture needle


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Figure 6. Experimental setup with acupuncture needele



Niels Jonassens Conclusion

It has been demonstrated that a conductive needle protruding from a conductive surface in an electric field will cause more ions to arrive at the surface than would be the case if the needle were not there. In addition, it was also demonstrated that it is possible from the measurements described to deduce the polar conductivity and concentration of (in this case) the negative atmospheric ions.

In the introduction, it was suggested that the effect of an acupuncture treatment could be partly explained by weak currents through the body being enhanced by the acupuncture needles distorting an electric field and attracting more atmospheric ions. It should be stressed that this explanation presupposes the existence of an electric field around the person being treated. This explanation also assumes that the person is sufficiently grounded. There are situations in which a person would be in a field-free environment, and thus the effect described above would not take place. On the contrary, however, modern buildings often have surprisingly high field strengths from charged insulative materials.

This article is not intended to explain whether or how acupuncture works. Rather, it has presented some ideas about a possible relationship between the effect of acupuncture needles and the number of ions arriving to a body in an electric field. The number of ions attracted to single needles by the action of an incidental field is extremely low and so are the resulting currents.

Therefore, instead of using needles inserted in discrete (acupuncture) points, a more-effective method may be to spray the skin with an abundance of unipolar ions. The charge from the neutralized ions would find its own way through the body along the paths where the current has the greatest effect.

Copenhagen, November 2002

Niels Jonassen D. Sc.


The drawing below shows the set-up of the trials without use of a needle

In the room where the trial is carried out, natural air-ions will be created. In order to ensure that the metal plate on the left will receive some of those air ions, an electric field is established between the two metal plates by keeping the metal plate to the left grounded through the electrometer and the metal plate to the right at a high voltage current.

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In the field between the two metal plates the naturally created positive air ions will be attracted to the metal plate to the right because that is charged to a high negative voltage, while the negative naturally created air ions will be transported in the field lines to the metal plate to the left and plate out releasing their current

By this method Dr. Jonassen made a set-up, which was comparable with a situation in which a person was grounded in an electric field, receiving naturally created air-ions.

The drawing below shows the same set-up but with the use of one needle.

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The set-up is the same as described above, but in the left metal plate, one needle represents a situation where a grounded person being in an electric field did have a needle inserted in the skin.

In both set-ups the current to the metal plate to the left is very weak and cannot be measured without doing it over an extended period of time of 5-6 hours.

Comparing the results it could be concluded that the set-up with the needle inserted was like having 15-25% more current running through the metal plate.


Grounding 8)

In this article the electrical grounding is astablised as ground connection and curcuit connection.

A ground connection to earth it usually a wire connection between the target and the ground (earth) to allows the flow of current.

A curcuit connection is a network having a closed loop, giving a return part for the current



The past 100 years has given us knowledge about modern atomic physics. We do understand the basics of the lower parts of the atmosphere, the atmospheric air, the natural radioactive radiation, the production of positive and negative air-ions and the electric field, and this phenomenon is probably the basis of all living being.

We do not have a common name for the effect of all this phenomena, but what the Chinese were told to name Qi, we can now clearly define:

It is clamed that Qi is "the natural energy of the Universe" and according to the above it is right.

Qi is clamed to be formed by yin and yang, but the words yin and yang have to be changed to words comparable to our scientific terms, which are negative and positive air-ions. Then we do understand that Qi is electrical energy.

Qi is defined as being undetectable by empirical science, which makes no sense as we do have well documented methods.

Finely, Qi is clamed to be a part of weather in the Universe. The radioactive radiation, air-ions and the electric field influences of the weather in the lower part of the atmosphere are very well documented; thousands of thunderstorms are constantly taking place caused by the natural ionisation and the electric fields.

It has been demonstrated that acupuncture Qi is understandable and describable from a scientific point of view and what’s happening can be shown graphically:

fig10.jpg (20240 bytes)


The energy from the atmospheric ray hits into a gas molecule probably nitrogen, and since nitrogen is said to be electro negative an electron might be knocked off. The nitrogen molecule will now be left as a positive elementary ion.

The free electron will in a fraction of a second find a new host that might be an oxygen molecule, mainly because oxygen is said to be electro negative. The oxygen molecule will then be a negative elementary ion.

Both will then combine with a number of water molecules and each being either positive or negative atmospheric ions are just air-ions.

In the optimally natural situation 10-15 ions pairs will be created per cm3 each second 1). This is not much, and on top of that most of these created ions will be quickly recombined with each other.

The free air-ions will then in the electric field be transported in their different directions, and some of them will end on the surface of the target, which could be a ground-connected person, resulting in a current giving the energy.

It can then be concluded that acupuncture Qi is created in the atmosphere by forces released from atmospheric rays creating an ionic transfer in the electric field to grounded target resulting in a current giving the energy, and it could be shown as:

Ionically Transferred Energy

t x A = C

Where t is time, A is ampere and C is coulomb

With traditional acupuncture metal needles are inserted in selected points of the skin of the patient, usually at points in connection with a meridian line. If the needles happen to be in an electric field the field will be distorted resulting in a greater current to the needle than would be the case if the needle (and the field) had not been there.

The current will predominantly flow along the paths of least electrical resistance, which is supposed to be the meridian line into which the needle is inserted.

It should be stressed that although the current along the meridians is caused by the atmospheric ions plating out on the needles (because of the electric field) these same atmospheric ions never enter the body.

The ions are being neutralized (in the case discussed) at the surface of the needles resulting in an induction current carried by electrolytic ions always present to various degrees in any type of body fluid.

It is now the assumption that any effect of an acupuncture treatment is caused by such induction currents (in the body fluid) through the body being treated.

However, these currents are extremely small, and the current paths usually uncontrollable, since no well-defined return or grounding point is being used.

It is my belief that this is the main reason for the often-experienced unpredictability of traditional acupuncture treatments.

However, with the new definition and understanding of Qi the technology behind the old acupuncture method is understandable, and it can be named:

Uncontrolled Ionically Transferred Energy

With the new definition and understanding we will be able to create a new technology where several shortcomings of traditional acupuncture will be overcome, and we can give it the name:

Controlled Ionically Transferred Energy

or just


The old way of inserting needles in the surface of the skin was probably expected to be a simple treatment until the knowledge of a much more effective method was discovered.

In the Chinese explanation of Qi, the scientific answer has always existed, but to understand the message a scientific atmospheric knowledge is necessary.

Let me finish by mentioning four important features of the CITE method:

It is possible to spray ions over the area to be treated leaving it to the ion flow to find the paths of least resistance.

By carefully selection of the return electrode placement the current paths through the body are optimised.

It will be possible to continuously monitor the total current to the body as well as the exposure rate.

It will be possible to determine the total exposure and the charge transferred, simply by the selection of an ionisation voltage or a treatment distance.

Those willing to accept the new definition of Qi and then go from uncontrolled use of Qi to controlled use of Qi (CITE) will be witness to a health technology with unbelievable possibilities.

All told, I think Churchill said it better than I can:

"This is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning".


Copenhagen November 2006

John F. Wetling




This article will be followed up by one explaining in technical detail how CITE works from a scientific perspective, and as a method of treatment.



Niels Jonassen, "Ions" www.ce-mag.com/archive/1999/mayjune/mrstatic.html

Ulli Finke Atmosphärische Elektrizität www.muk.uni-hannover.de/studium/material/luftelektrizitaet/luftelektrizitaet_kurz.pdf

Soaking in atmospheric electricity, www.science.nasa.gov/newhome/headlines/essd15jun99_1.htm

Electric Field and the Movement of Charge, www.glenbrook.k12.il.us/GBSSCI/PHYS/CLASS/circuits/u9l1a.html

Niels Jonassen, „Are Ions Good for You?" www.ce-mag.com/archive/02/11/mrstatic.html

Niels Jonassen, "Acupuncture and Atmospheric Ions"www.ce-mag.com/archive/03/01/mrstatic.html

Idaho State University, Radioactivity in nature: www.physics.isu.edu/radinf/natural.htm

Grounding (electricity) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ground_(electricity)