Can acupuncture be used on plants?
After experimenting for 15 years, Hsiao Gui-wen (
When applied to fruit-bearing plants such as peach and apple trees, acupuncture not only advanced the harvest time by a month and a half, but also decreased damage by blight.
The technique has been patented, and many interested businesses now are in negotiation for the rights to use the technology.
Hsiao originally ran a chiropractic clinic in Yonghe. After he witnessed ginger lilies change color upon absorbing dyes, he toyed with the idea that plants may have acupuncture points like humans.
To explore the concept, Hsiao commenced worked in the early 1990s with fruit growers at Wuling Farm, Shigang (
After 8 years of research, he had built up a comprehensive map of acupuncture points on plants. He spent another 7 years after that experimenting with the effects of different needle combinations and incisions.
The peach tree that he practiced on produced a great harvest, and eventually accompanied President Chen Shui-bian (
The needles used to acupuncture plants are made of steel spokes from bicycles. The needles are about 3 to 4 times larger than those used for humans.
A fruit tree takes about 20 to 30 needles, and acupuncture can be applied to either the trunk or the branches. The exact acupuncture points are the target of the patent.
After acupuncture, Hsiao also applies his organic crop spray naturally extracted from animals or plants. Hsiao pointed out that many growers use pesticides or hormone enhancer that can damage both the environment and human health.
If his success had come 10 years earlier, Hsiao said, he could have run his own farm. However, since he is already 66 years old, he intends transferring the technique instead.
Because of his love for Taiwan, Hsiao insisted that this technique should stay in Taiwan, and not be transferred to China.
He pointed out that the earlier yields his technique produces can result in prices three to four times higher than the seasonal rate.
On the other hand, scholars from the Department of Horticulture at the National University are more conservative about the effects of acupuncture on enhancing harvest and preventing blight.
Assistant professor Yeh Te-ming (葉德銘) stated that it's common to enhance the growth of plants by changing certain environmental factors, such as the temperature, humidity or light. However, he had never heard of anyone using the acupuncture technique.
Chang Tsu-liang (張祖亮), another assistant professor said that although he had heard about research in the area of plant acupuncture at universities in Germany and in China, actual research results or scientific data are as yet unavailable.
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