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Acupuncture Today – July, 2005, Vol. 06, Issue 07

Infrared Evidence for External Qi

By Yin Lo, PhD

Qi is one of the most mysterious elements of Oriental medicine. It cannot be seen, touched, or smelled. Nevertheless, the curing of patients by acupuncture depends on and results from this invisible flow of qi.

It is so elusive, yet so real. How, then, can one present it as objective and scientific to skeptics?

The qi that flows inside the human body is hard to pinpoint because so many other things that occur in and around the body can obscure its properties. In contrast, qi that the human body emits externally is "cleaner" from a scientific viewpoint. In fact, extensive scientific studies have demonstrated the effect of external qi on animals; these studies have used scientific methods to measure brain waves and hormone levels in rats and rabbits.* Previous studies have determined that the physical properties of external qi consist of an electric field, a magnetic field, and subsonic phonons.*

We wish to present another method of scientifically demonstrating the existence of external qi. In a visual and intuitively understandable way, this method presents qi so that a large audience quickly can grasp its effects without too much explanation. This method is via infrared imaging. I will describe a recent public demonstration of the effects of external qi that I executed.

Before and after infrared images of the face of first volunteer. - Copyright – Stock Photo / Register Mark
The maximum temperature of the face of the first volunteer before the healing session was 96.09° F (Figure 1A). It was reduced after the healing session by 0.97° F to 95.12° F (Figure 1B).

Before and after infrared images of the of the lower back of patient. - Copyright – Stock Photo / Register Mark
The maximum temperature of the lower back before healing was 92.91° F (Figure 2A). It was reduced by 1.73° F after healing to 90.18° F (Figure 2B).

Before and after infrared images of the lower legs of patient. - Copyright – Stock Photo / Register Mark
The maximum temperatures of the left and right leg before healing were 92.43° F and 90.59° F (Figure 3A). They were reduced to 90.73° F and 88.83° F (Figure 3B).

On Apr. 1, 2005, the 17th annual symposium of the American Academy of Medical Acupuncture was held at Atlanta, Georgia. The theme was "Medical Acupuncture 2005: Mystique to Mainstream." More than 300 medical doctors attended this annual conference. I was scheduled to present a paper on the effects of acupuncture as captured by continuous infrared imaging. As I was preparing the materials for the conference, I sensed that I could contribute more fully to the symposium than just by presenting the paper. To this high-caliber, scientific audience, I could also offer a live demonstration of the existence of external qi by healing several individuals, right before their trained medical eyes!

As soon as I arrived at the conference site, I talked to Dr. James Dowden, the chairman of the conference, about the possibility for such a demonstration. Despite the short notice, he still managed to find a large lecture hall. In the morning plenary session, he announced that I would give a live demonstration of the existence of external qi at 10 a.m. on Apr. 2.

Approximately 30 people gathered in the lecture hall. To begin, I asked for volunteers. The first volunteer was a 40-year-old male, who worked at the conference center. He said he had many health problems, with the most serious problem being back pain. I asked him to sit on a chair in front of the infrared camera, in order to take initial, pre-healing photos. Then I healed him by placing my right hand several inches above his head. External qi flowed from my hand and entered into his body. After about 10 minutes, the healing session ended. My hands never touched him throughout this process.

During the healing, a camera (attached to a computer) continuously projected the healing interactions onto a large screen. The entire audience, both medical scientists and other participants, could closely witness this performance of qi healing in-process. After the healing was completed, I took infrared photos again. The audience could instantly see the changes in color, i.e., the temperature of his body. These photos are shown below in Figures 1-3.

In Figure 1, we can see that the right eye initially was hotter than the left eye. After the healing, the two eyes had similar temperatures so that the left and right eyes became more symmetric. In addition, we noticed that the maximum temperature of the lower back and the legs dropped, also due to the healing. The worker said that he felt much better. The next day, after the healing session, the worker also told me that he could work much more easily, without the usual feeling of tiredness.

Before and after infrared images of the face of a patient. - Copyright – Stock Photo / Register Mark
The maximum temperature of the face before healing was 95.5° F (Figure 4A), which became 95.82° F after healing (Figure 4B). The difference was 0.32° F, which is insignificant because it is less than statistical fluctuation of 0.45° F. The temperature of the face can be regarded as "self-control."

Before and after infrared images of the feet of a patient. - Copyright – Stock Photo / Register Mark
The maximum temperatures before healing for the left and right foot were 89.23° F and 88.52° F (Figure 5A), which reduced to 88.20° F and 87.34° F (Figure 5B), respectively. The left toe was so cold (70.7° F) before healing that it was in black and could not be observed in this color code. After healing, it was increased from 70.7° F to 80.73° F and became observable in Figure 5B.

The color code for all images is as follows: white as the hottest temperature, followed by red, yellow, green, and blue, with black the coldest. The accuracy of the infrared imaging system is 0.02 0 F. The normal statistical fluctuation is about 0.45 0 F. Thus, any change that is more than half a degree is significant.

I then asked for a second volunteer, and a medical doctor responded. She had twisted her left ankle and was limping as she walked. During the 10-minute healing session, I did not touch her. Clearly, the effects on the volunteer could only come from the qi emitted from the hands of the healer through the air and into the body of the volunteer. Once again, infrared pictures were taken before and immediately after healing. Since the room temperature and humidity stayed constant during the 10-minute healing session, any changes in the photos could only be attributed to external qi.

Everyone watched the projected photos on the big screen and could observe immediately the change in temperature, as represented by the color of her legs. In this instance, the significant effect of qi was to balance the temperature throughout the various parts of her body. Some parts of the left leg warmed up, while other parts cooled down. The doctor-volunteer said after the healing that she felt much better and that her ankle felt warmer.

These photos are shown in Figures 4 and 5 below. The doctor and I made the following interpretation. The twisted ankle had prevented blood circulation; hence, the ankle was very cold initially. After healing, the blood could circulate more easily again, and the ankle became warm. The next day, she met me and happily told me that her foot felt much better from the healing.

At the close of these two demonstrations, I explained the whole process of emitting qi, receiving qi, and healing in terms of quantum theory. (Please consult my book for details of this explanation.) Clearly, there is no mystique in either acupuncture or qigong. These ancient, empirically valid methods have genuine physical and biological effects. Their theoretical foundations and explanations lie in modern physics.

In conclusion, I contend that the infrared imaging technique is not only a scientific research tool for measuring the effects of externally transmitted qi that can yield new quantitative results; this method is a tool that can prove to any skeptic the very demonstrable effects of qi in healing.

* Detailed results and references are presented in the author's book, Biophysics Basis for Acupuncture and Health, which is available from

Click here for previous articles by Yin Lo, PhD.

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