Bloodletting is a specialized technique of Traditional Chinese Medicine that aims to restore balance in the human body using the targeted draining of small quantities of blood from specific locations. As such, it is frequently used to treat ailments stemming from inflammation such as a sore throat.

The practitioner will first determine the suitability of the patient for bloodletting according to the Four Diagnostic Methods.

For the trained practitioner, the preferred instruments include the traditional three-edge needle, seven-star needle (also known as a cutaneous needle), a medical lancet, or occasionally a regular acupuncture needle. The goal of the treatment is to elicit several drops of blood by squeezing the small puncture point made by the instrument, which is absorbed with a sterile cotton ball. Depending on the intended treatment purpose, cupping may instead be used to draw out 5-10mL of blood.

According to Traditional Chinese Medicine, the process of bloodletting can stimulate the smooth flow and dispersion of qi and blood throughout the body as well as drain excess heat and fire.

Common applications of bloodletting are the pricking of the ear apex point to treat acute conjunctivitis and pricking of the “shao shang” acu-point to relieve a sore throat.

The practice of bloodletting must be executed by a well-trained and experienced acupuncturist to ensure minimal discomfort and to ensure that strict sterilization standards are met.

Dr. Betty Bai uses bloodletting to treat a variety of ailments including:

  • Eye irritation
  • Sore throat
  • Migraines/headaches
  • Skin problems (eg. eczema, psoriasis)

For example, she frequently utilizes bloodletting to treat excruciating pain stemming from shingles.

The pain associated with bloodletting is usually no more than that of a mild prick similar to what would be experienced during a blood draw or vaccination. Dr. Betty Bai has routinely treated children with bloodletting with minimal pain.