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This critical literature review focuses on the therapeutic role of the practitioner’s heart, with emphasis on the acupuncturist’s perspective.
The relevant descriptions given in classical Chinese medicine are presented. In particular, the appropriate attitude of the practitioner during treatment is discussed, highlighting the importance of compassion and clarity of intention. This is followed by a description of the acupuncture needle’s role of energetic link with the patient.
Parallels were identified with results from modern research showing that positive emotions such as compassion increase the coherence of the cardiac electromagnetic field, and thereby interpersonal effects such as cardiac energy exchange and synchronisation of heart rates and heart-brain wave patterns. The importance of these findings in providing a rationale for a patient-centred approach to treatment is discussed, together with the need for further research within the framework of modern validation of classical Chinese medicine.