Can acupuncture boost the immune system to protect against Covid-19?
The coronavirus is all over the news and on everybody’s mind.
The virus is spreading around the globe and the number of infected patients is growing daily. Anxiety, stress and fear for contagion seem to spread at an even faster rate.
It is scientifically accepted that emotional disturbances and anxiety leads to immune system impairment and being stressed can cause your body to release extra cortisol, negatively affects sleep quality and your immune system.
Many studies from the field of psychoneuroimmunology have clearly demonstrated the link between stress and its suppressive effect on immune functions.(2)
Acupuncture has been shown to reduce stress and anxiety, regulate the autonomic nervous system and stimulates immune system. Acupuncture increases the white blood cells in the body and moderates the immune system allowing it to react to threats.
It is demonstrated that acupuncture improves the number and function of phagocytes, modulates the synthesis and secretion of various kinds of immunoglobulin, increases the number and activity of natural killer (NK) cells, promotes immune cytokines and stimulates production of CD4+ T-cells.(4) These last cells are referred to as helper T cells and are active in the immune system’s defense against microbes, including viruses.(1,3)
Traditional Chinese Medicine, which involves acupuncture and herbal therapy, has treated similar respiratory infections like the 2020 Wuhan-Coronavirus for over 2000 years.
According to a recent study a Chinese Herbal Medicine formula has been proven to be effective in the prevention and treatment of patients with Covid-19.(5,6)
“Integrating traditional Chinese medicine with Western medicine to treat the novel coronavirus patients has been proven to be effective”, stated a top official of the State Administration of Traditional Chinese Medicine last week in China Daily.
Keep on washing your hands, don’t shake hands, keep following instructions from health authorities, but don’t forget to boost your own immune system. TCM can be of a great help in this difficult and stressful time. Prevention is key. Even people who are normally healthy should boost their immune system for additional protection against this virus.
Dr. Med. Raymond Landgraaf (author) and Dr. Med Massimo Fumagalli (co-author)
Literature and links
- Chen et al (2017). Enhancement of immune cytokines and splenic CD4+ T cells by electroacupuncture at ST36 acupoint of SD rats. PloS one
- Ding et al (2014). Acupuncture modulates the neuro-endocrine-immune network. QJM
- Fengxia Liang (2015) Acupuncture and immunity. Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine
- Arranz (2007) Effect of Acupuncture Treatment on the Immune Function Impairment Found in Anxious Women. The American Journal of Chinese Medicine
- China Daily (20.02.2020) TCM treatment effective against novel coronavirus
- Liu et al. (2020) Thoughts on the effect of integrated traditional and western medicine in the treatment of COVID-19. Journal of Traditional Chinese Medicine.