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Open Access Open Badges Research article

A complementary method for detecting qi vacuity

Ming-Feng Chen14*, Hsi-Ming Yu2, Shu-Fang Li3 and Ta-Jung You2

  • * Corresponding author: Ming-Feng Chen

  • † Equal contributors

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Internal Medicine, Show Chwan Memorial Hospital, No.542, Sec 1, Chung-Shang Rd, Changhua City, Taiwan

2 Department of Chinese Medicine, Tzu-Ai General Hospital, Hsilo, Yulin County, Taiwan

3 Department of Clinical Laboratory Science, Tainan Municipal Hospital, Tainan City, Taiwan

4 Institute of Chinese Medicine Science, China Medical University, Taichung City, Taiwan

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BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine 2009, 9:12  doi:10.1186/1472-6882-9-12

Published: 8 May 2009



Qi vacuity (QV) is defined by traditional Chinese medicine as a loss of energy in the human body. An objective method for detecting QV was not available until recently, however. The automatic reflective diagnosis system (ARDK) is a device that detects human bioenergy through measuring skin conductance at 24 special acupoints on the wrists and ankles.


This study used the ARDK to measure skin conductance on 193 patients with QV and 89 sex- and age-matched healthy controls to investigate whether the device is useful in detecting QV. Patients diagnosed with QV have three or more of five symptoms or signs; symptom severity is measured on 5 levels and scored from 0 to 4 points. We compared the difference in the mean ARDK values between patients with QV and healthy controls, and further used linear regression analysis to investigate the correlation between the mean ARDK values and QV scores in patients diagnosed with QV.


The mean ARDK values in patients with QV (30.2 ± 16.8 μA) are significantly lower than those of healthy controls (37.7 ± 10.8 μA; P < 0.001). A negative correlation was found between the mean ARDK values and QV scores (r coefficient = -0.61; P < 0.001). After adjusting for age, the decreased mean ARDK values in patients with QV showed a significant correlation with the QV scores.


These results suggest that the mean ARDK values reflect the severity of QV in patients diagnosed with the disorder. They also suggest that the bioenergy level of the human body can be measured by skin conductance. ARDK is a safe and effective complementary method for detecting and diagnosing QV.