Guide Tube

History of the Guide Tube

The guide tube or shinkan was invented during Japan’s Edo period(1603-1867) by a blind acupuncturist named Waichi Sugiyama.  According to legend, he was out walking when he tripped over a reed. Inside the reed was a small pine needle that stuck in his leg. From this incident, the first guide tube was inspired. The invention of the guide tube allowed acupuncturists to insert very fine needles into patients with little or no pain.


Today some practitioners have turned the use of the guide tube into an art. For example, a skilled acupuncturist can use the guide tube as an extension of their hand to move and hold soft tissue or internal structures out of the way as the needle is inserted.  The end of the guide tube can be used similarly to a teishin for light pressing and rubbing techniques. These techniques require a good quality guide tube with comfortable, well-designed ends.  If the ends are sharp or rough, it may cause discomfort or even scratch the patient; therefore, one should avoid poorly made or plastic guide tubes for anything but basic insertion.

How to do a single-hand guide tube reload. 

The single-hand guide tube reload is considered a fundamental skill in several styles of Japanese acupuncture.  It should be practiced slowly and smoothly until it becomes effortless.  The goal is to reload the guide tube while looking at your patient and palpating the next point with your other hand.  This will seem difficult at first, but it will soon be second nature with a bit of constant practice.