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July 21, 2015

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Infection risk from DIY blood-letting kits

CITY doctors have warned people using do-it-yourself blood-letting kits that they are putting themselves at risk of infection from needles.

The traditional therapy, believed to remove toxins from the body, is particularly popular in summer as this is believed the best time for the treatment.

With prices starting at 30 yuan (US$4.8), online retailers have reported sales of thousands of kits in recent weeks. Some beauty parlors also offer the service.

But Shanghai doctors urged anyone seeking the treatment to go to licensed traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) clinics and hospitals.

“People attempting blood-letting therapy at home or going to a beauty parlor face the risk of infection and piercing the wrong points,” said Dr Zhang Shiping from Shanghai Tianlun Hospital’s traditional Chinese medicine department.

“It is important to visit a professional clinic and hospital for this therapy.”

“Everyone should undergo evaluation first. Pregnant women, children, people with a weak immune system, people whose blood doesn’t clot easily, and those with anemia or suffering from heart disease should not receive the therapy.”

Online stores claim that blood-letting can treat everything from joint pain and acne to nearsightedness and help with losing weight.

“They are exaggerating the effects and people are being misled,” said Zhang.

Blood-letting is most effective for reducing inner heat, bringing down swelling, treating sunstroke and easing pain, added the doctor.

Most DIY blood-letting kits consist of either a pen-like device fitted with a disposable needle and pot to collect blood, or a container fitted with a needle which collects blood using air pressure.

According to TCM, removing several milliliters of blood stimulates circulation and removes toxins. Faster blood circulation summer makes this the best time for some TCM treatments

On online shopping platform Taobao, the owner of online store Shendengkaodeng said that they had sold 1,100 kits recently and dismissed medical warnings. The equipment is safe and the kit includes a chart to ensure that the user draws blood from the correct points, said the online store owner.

Taobao said that it is investigating.


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