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Acupuncture for Common Cold and Flu

Updated: Feb 4, 2020

Yes, it’s that time of the year. Upper respiratory tract infections such as colds or the flu are all around us. While cold symptoms make us feel bad for a few days, flu symptoms can last a few days to even weeks and usually makes us feel sicker. Runny nose, congestion, sore throat, headaches, body aches, and fever, are all common symptoms.

Flu activity is now high in the U.S. and is expected to continue for weeks. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that at least 15 million people have gotten the flu so far this season (2019-2020), 8,200 people have died and 140,000 people have been hospitalized (yikes!!!).

While most people recover from the flu, some may develop complications or may even die. Complications most often occur in vulnerable groups such as the elderly, children, diabetics, and those with heart and lung diseases.

Acupuncture may help prevent or fight upper respiratory tract infections by strengthening your immune system. Acupuncture can also ease the symptoms and speed the recovery if you are unlucky and get sick. Even though it is better to get regular acupuncture treatments before the flu season starts, it is never too late to support your body for prevention. If you receive the flu shot, acupuncture can complement the support the shot gives you.

Here is how acupuncture has demonstrated its benefits:

1. Acupuncture strengthens the immune system and activates cells that help fight infections (lymphocytes and NK cells). http://downloads.hindawi.com/journals/ecam/2007/276565.pdf

2. Acupuncture has a fever-reducing effect (antipyretic). In a study published in the US National Library of Medicine, acupuncture patients treated on the acupuncture point GV14 had a significantly faster fever reduction effect than the control group. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17432639

3. Acupuncture helps relieve nasal congestion. Needling or massaging on the acupuncture point yingxiang by the nose helps relieve nasal congestion and improves nasal airflow. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10219433

4. Acupuncture helps relieve sore throats. Acupuncture can immediately reduce or eliminate a sore throat by different mechanisms, the anti-inflammatory effect of acupuncture and the release of endorphins are involved in this effect.


The following are some acupuncture points useful for common colds and flu symptoms. Press or gently massage each point for 30 seconds a few times a day.

Image from Acupuncture Today

There are other points in the body that help strengthen your immune system. Ask in your next acupuncture treatment about them. If you feel that you are getting sick, schedule an appointment as soon as you begin to feel symptoms. If caught in the early stages, acupuncture could save you from getting sick.

Remember, it is not too late to fight the cold season!

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