European Journal of Applied Physiology

, Volume 94, Issue 5–6, pp 633–640

Effects of acupuncture on heart rate variability in normal subjects under fatigue and non-fatigue state

  • Zengyong Li
  • Chengtao Wang
  • Arthur F. T. Mak
  • Daniel H. K. Chow
Original Article


The objective of this study was to assess the effects of acupuncture applied at Hegu (LI 4) points and Neiguan (PC6) points on heart rate variability (HRV) in normal subjects under fatigue and non-fatigue states using power spectral analysis. Twenty-nine normal male subjects were randomly divided into three groups. Subjects in Group A and Group B performed a simulated driving task for 3 h and acupuncture needles were then inserted perpendicularly into the LI 4 points in the middle of the dorsal thenar muscle and PC 6 points situated between the tendons of the palmaris longus and carpi radialis muscles for 15 min for Group A but inserted subcutaneously to the acupuncture points for Group B as a control. Acupuncture needles were directly inserted perpendicularly into the LI 4 points and PC 6 points for 15 min for Group C. Stimulations of the acupuncture points induced a significant decrease in heart rate (HR), HRV total power (TP), low frequency (LF) power and ratio of low frequency to high frequency (LF/HF), and a significant increase in the HF power in normalized units (NU) during the post stimulation period in fatigue state (P<0.05). Stimulation of acupuncture points resulted in a significant increase both in the LF power and HF power in absolute units (AU) (P<0.05) but no significant change in NU was found during the post stimulation period in non-fatigue state. It was concluded that the modulating effect of acupuncture on heart rate variability not only depended on the points of stimulation such as acupuncture or non-acupuncture points but also on the functional state of the subject, namely whether the subjects are in a state of fatigue or not.


Acupuncture Heart rate variability Fatigue Sympathetic Parasympathetic activity 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • Zengyong Li
    • 1
    • 2
  • Chengtao Wang
    • 3
  • Arthur F. T. Mak
    • 1
  • Daniel H. K. Chow
    • 1
  1. 1.Jockey Club Rehabilitation Engineering CentreThe Hong Kong Polytechnic UniversityKowloon, Hong KongP.R. China
  2. 2.School of Mechanical EngineeringShandong UniversityJinanP.R. China
  3. 3.School of Mechanical EngineeringShanghai Jiaotong UniversityShanghaiP.R. China

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