Bloodletting

Hey now. It’s really not all THAT bad.

lancet

What is it?

Let’s get one thing clear right now- it hurts little more than getting acupuncture- this means, not that much. We are not talking gushing blood, or bleeding out. Essentially, a lancet or lancet-like tool is used to poke the area.

Chinese medicine (often an acupuncturist) does this often where there is considerable swelling from sprains, breaks, and tears, mostly by joints. Lesser known applications are for high fevers and febrile conditions on certain acupuncture points.

What Does It Do?

For injuries, it will immediately bring the swelling down. Once the swelling is gone, there’s less pressure felt in the area by the patient and there’s increased range of motion. It’s remarkable how quick and effective this is. I have had patients tell me that it’s hands down the most effective thing they have done for their injury, trumping , acupuncture, massage, topicals, electrical simulations, etc. One can “read” the blood too. Swellings that have been there for weeks can will bleed a dark colored blood. Sometimes nearly black. This is an indication that the blood swelling here is old and stagnant. Draining this out leaves room and encourages new fresh blood cells to deliver what’s needed to continue the healing process at a healthier and quicker rate.

If you haven’t noticed, I will bring it to your attention that I have yet to mention anything about pain reduction and I will explain this reason now. When it comes to breaks and ligament sprains, one of the 1st phyiscal reactions that occurs is swelling. When the swelling lingers and you perform bloodletting, the swelling goes down. Since the swelling is serving as a cushion at the site of the injury, sometimes it shelters the pain and reducing it can sometimes express that pain a little more. Older injuries may actually see pain reduction, however. Increased bruising is also another side effect. This is completely normal and healthy.

In one case I had a patient come in with a broken ankle, tibia and fibula. Several reconstructive surgeries and 9 months later, this patient was still experiencing loss of sensation in the foot and extremely limited range of motion. Eventually, finally and luckily, this person was referred by a friend to acupuncture. We did bloodletting on the 1st visit and immediately (and much to his surprise) he could feel the bottom of his foot touch the floor for the 1st time since the accident! Range of motion increased and the purple and blue stagnant color that had been there for months, started to retreat and his skin started to look normal.  I love pairing this with acupuncture and/or topicals that move qi and blood. Ingredients in these can be cinnamon, (love this) safflower, mint and so on depending on the nature of the injury. I steer clear of the likes of Bengay and some other Western non-food/plant based creams. I definitely find in these instances that plants really are medically superior here.