Can a Needle Save the Life of a Stroke Victim?

Needle with red thread
Walter B. McKenzie / Digital Vision / Getty Images

Netlore Archive: This misinformative email flier claims pricking a stroke victim's fingers and earlobes with a pin or needle until they bleed will relieve symptoms of paralysis, restore consciousness, and allow the patient to be safely moved.

Description: Email flier

Circulating S ince: 2003

Status: False

Email example contributed by Andre S., May 14, 2008:

A Needle Can Save a Life
Worth noting. Never know who or when it may be needed...
Keep a syringe or needle in your home to do this... It's amazing and an unconventional way of recovering from stroke, read it through it can help somebody one day.
This is amazing. Please keep this very handy. Excellent tips. Do take a minute to read this. You'll never know. One's life may depend on you.
My father was paralyzed and later died from the result of a stroke. I wish I knew about this first aid before. When stroke strikes, the capillaries in the brain will gradually burst."
(Irene Liu)
When a stroke occurs, stay calm. No matter where the victim is, do not move him/her. Because, if moved, the capillaries will burst. Help the victim to sit up where he is to prevent him from falling over again, and then the bloodletting can begin. If you have in your home an injection syringe that would be the best, otherwise, a sewing needle or a straight pin will do.
1. Place the needle/pin over fire to sterilize it, and then use it to prick the tip of all 10 fingers.
2. There are no specific acupuncture points, just prick about a mm from the fingernail.
3. Prick till blood comes out.
4. If blood does not start to drip, then squeeze with your fingers.
5. When all 10 digits is bleeding, wait a few minutes then the victim will regain consciousness.
6. If the victim's mouth is crooked, then pull on his ears until they are red.
7. Then prick each ear lobe twice until two drops of blood comes from each ear lobe. After a few minutes the victim should regain consciousness.
Wait till the victim regain his normal state without any abnormal symptoms then take him to the hospital, otherwise, if he was taken in the ambulance in a hurry to the hospital, the bumpy trip will cause all the capillaries in his brain to burst. If he could save his life, barely managing to walk, then it is by the grace of his ancestors.
"I learned about letting blood to save life from Chinese traditional doctor Ha Bu-Ting who lives in Sun-Juke. Furthermore, I had practical experience with it. Therefore I can say this method is 100% effective. In 1979, I was teaching in Fung-Gaap College in Tai-Chung. One afternoon I was teaching class when another teacher came running to my class room and said in panting, "Ms. Liu, come quick, our supervisor has had a stroke!"
I immediately went to the 3rd floor. When I saw our supervisor, Mr. Chen Fu-Tien, his color was off, his speech was slurred, his mouth was crooked-all the symptoms of a stroke. I immediately asked one of the practicum students to go to the pharmacy outside the school to buy a syringe, which I used to prick Mr. Chen's 10 fingertips. When all 10 fingers were bleeding (each with a pea-sized drop of blood), after a few minutes, Mr. Chen's face regained its color and his eyes' spirit returned, too. But his mouth was still crooked. So I pulled on his ears to fill them with blood. When his ears became red, I pricked his right earlobe twice to let out 2 drops of blood. When both earlobes had two drops of blood each, a miracle happened. Within 3-5 minutes the shape of his mouth returned to normal and his speech became clear. We let him rest for a while and have a cup of hot tea, then we helped him go down the stairs, drove him to Wei-Wah Hospital. He rested one night and was released the next day to return to school to teach.
Everything worked normally. There were no ill after-effects. On the otherhand, the usual stroke victim usually suffers irreparable bursting of the brain capillaries on the way to the hospital. As a result, these victims never recover."
(Irene Liu)
Therefore stroke is the second cause of death. The lucky ones will stay alive but can remain paralyzed for life. It is such a horrible thing to happen in one's life. If we can all remember this bloodletting method and start the life-saving process immediately, in a short time, the victim will be revived and regain 100% normality.
If possible, Please forward this after reading. You never know if it may help save a life from stroke.


Prick a stroke victim's fingertips, squeeze them till they bleed, yank on their earlobes, then start pricking those, too? This sounds more like torture than a proper medical treatment! Once upon a time—and this is going back 100 years or more, mind you—bloodletting was thought to be an appropriate treatment for stroke (or "apoplexy," as it was then called). Now we know better, or at least we ought to.

According to stroke expert, Dr. Jose Vega, this message was clearly authored by someone with no real medical knowledge and shouldn't be taken seriously. Following the instructions above, in fact, might do more harm than good.

"The email conveys multiple unfounded ideas about stroke," Vega writes, "but by far the most dangerous one of all is the suggestion that people should not be taken to a hospital until all their symptoms are resolved, on the grounds that 'all the capillaries in the brain will burst on the way to the hospital.' This statement is untrue and totally irresponsible."

The first thing you should do if you or someone you know exhibits symptoms of a stroke is to call an ambulance. The most effective stroke treatment known, a blood thinner called tPA, must be administered within three hours of the onset of symptoms, so every minute counts. Delaying hospitalization for any reason may worsen the patient's prognosis.

Bloodletting and Apoplexy

Prior to the 19th century, bloodletting was a standard "cure" for practically everything, including stroke. In western medicine, the practice was based on the ancient Theory of Humors, which held that all disease results from an imbalance of four bodily fluids: blood, phlegm, black bile, and yellow bile. Siphoning off a certain amount of blood—often copious amounts of it, actually—was believed to restore the balance necessary for recovery from illness and long-term good health.

Though advances in medical science led to the eventual abandonment of humour-based therapies, bloodletting continued to be prescribed as a treatment for apoplexy, albeit under a different rationale. With the recognition that blood pressure is a factor in arterial disease came the suggestion that bloodletting ought to be used to relieve the body of a "superabundance" of blood. Despite cumulative evidence that this was ineffective as a stroke treatment (and in some cases even harmful), the practice continued on into the early 20th century.

More recently (beginning in the 1960s), venesection (bloodletting by another name) has been proposed in conjunction with drug treatments as a means of reducing blood viscosity in stroke patients to enhance oxygen flow to the brain. Clinical tests of the procedure have proven inconclusive.

Do Not Try This at Home

Turning to Chinese medicine, from which the specific notion of treating stroke victims by drawing blood from the fingertips appears to derive, a 2005 study published in the Journal of Traditional Chinese Medicine confirms that there is a precedent for such a technique, reporting that "Bloodletting puncture at Twelve Well-Points of Hand can improve the consciousness of patients with brain injury in small area." Please note, however, that the tests which formed the basis of this study were conducted on patients already diagnosed with and hospitalized for stroke, and nowhere is it recommended that any such treatment be tried in the home.

Sources and Further Reading