Piercing a vein or small artery at the tip of the body-finger tips, toes, or top of the ears-is a technique well-known among acupuncturists. In this case, a few drops of blood let out from one or more peripheral points by quickly stabbing the skin with a lance, is said to have significant effects. Letting out blood is among the oldest of acupuncture techniques. Peripheral blood-letting today is mainly carried out at the fingers and toes. These are said to be useful for emergency treatment for stroke or for numbness of the toes, also for redness, swelling, and pain of the instep of the foot. Similarly, at the tips of the fingers there are the points that will be pricked to treat coma, epilepsy, high fever, and sore throat.
There is pricking of the ear apex (tubercle) to let out blood, as a similar basic technique. All these peripheral point bleeding treatments are used for heat and excess syndromes. As an example, treating the ear apex by bloodletting has been recommended to treat hordeolum, an eye infection.
Bloodletting has various purposes, including activation of blood, clearing acupuncture meridians, reduction of excess heat and treating varicose veins.