Acupuncturist Questions Acupuncture

How does acupuncture help boost the immune system?

I heard that acupuncture can help prevent the common cold and flu. I'm just wondering how that's really possible. How does acupuncture work to boost the immune system against a cold?

11 Answers

Think of going to an acupuncturist as going to your mechanic. If you keep on top of your oil changes, tire rotation, and make sure the engine is functioning, you're less likely to have problems with your car. Similarly, acupuncture works to ensure all your body's functions are working together and at their peak performance to keep you healthy. Secondly, if you do get sick, you'll be able to heal faster because your body is stronger from working in unison.
There are several acupuncture points can enhance your energy (Qi) and immune system. Some herbal formulas can also boost your immune system and prevent to get common cold and flu. You can consult with your local acupuncturists about this issue.
Acupuncture does not work like a vaccination to prevent a certain type of virus but it does help to strengthen the immune system so that the body is able to fight things off on its own. A body that is healthier, less inflamed and less stressed is stronger to fight off infections.
When we apply the whole system of TCM (traditional Chinese medicine) we train the body to heal itself. But that also comes with a discipline of eating well (high quality foods and drink), exercising, resting, etc. We also add herbal formulas that address what is bringing your health down. It's not just acupuncture. But each point has a certain effect on the body to help the body communicate better and give it a boost in the right direction.
That's a great question! Genetics and environment play a big part in immune responses but acupuncture can definitely HELP boost immunity. It will not CREATE a healthy immune system. Acupuncture can improve immunity by affecting inflammatory responses, lowering cortisol levels-which indirectly affect immunity, balance hormones, etc. All of these things can effect and be affected by STRESS!!! For instance, elevated cortisol levels can lower the immune response simply by feeling stress.
All this aside, even if you are getting acupuncture, there is no guarantee that you will not fall victim to the common cold or flu. Even those of us who are chronic hand washers, health nuts and long-sleepers can still be vulnerable to the many strains of viruses out there. But those that get proper rest, exercise and diet and practice stress reduction techniques have a greater chance of keeping colds at bay.
Good Afternoon,

Happy New Year

Yes acupuncture can boost up the immune system but talk to your acupuncturist because there are 5 different categories that can boost up via acupuncture therapy

David
There are a variety of ways I would like to answer this question, but it would take a bit of in depth answering, so I will try to keep it short for you.

1. Acupuncture is a modality of Chinese medicine and Chinese medicine looks at the body differently than western medicine even though some things seem to overlap. One of the differences involves how we see colds/flus manifesting in the body. In western medicine it is from a virus and in Chinese medicine it is from the body not adapting to the environment (and hence the virus takes over). In short, both medical styles require the body to be stronger than the virus. So far, so good?

2. In Chinese medicine, part of the process of maintaining balance with the environment includes keeping the blood flowing and the other body systems flowing properly (lymphatic, digestive, sweat glands, etc). If they aren't flowing well, then from a western point of view the white blood cells can't do their job as well, the lymphatic system and digestive systems can't eliminate the waste products as well and the skin and muscles tighten up preventing circulation everywhere.

3. Acupuncture (along with moxibustion and in some cases herbal formulas) keep the systems flowing, remove the tightness in the muscles, air out inflammation areas and coordinate the body's systems to flow more smoothly. To explain all of the intricacies here requires a 4-year medical degree or at least a couple of years of basic TCM theory and differential diagnosis - so I won't go into the nitty gritty, but I hope you can start to see what is happening.

4. Even western medicine is currently realizing that the weather does have a factor in people getting sick (even though the main culprit is the virus). People live with viruses and bacteria all the time, it is when the body functions begin to fail that the microbes start to take over. With acupuncture and other Chinese medical modalities, we focus on strengthening and regulating the body more than killing the virus. This is why there are less side effects and a quicker recovery.

I not only help people prevent flus and colds with acupuncture, moxibustion or dietary and lifestyle advice, I also treat people who are currently active sick. 9 out of 10 who come in with a cold/flu leave with minimal to no symptoms - in effect they go from "day one" to "end of sickness" in the hour that I treat them. Others take an extra day or need to take some herbs to finish it off, but they can pretty much get on with their day when I'm done.

However, I do my acupuncture slightly different than the average L.Ac because I use more needle techniques to eliminate and regulate as opposed to just sticking in needles (which is also helpful but may take the extra day or so).

In short summary; Prevention is done with preparing the body for the season so body can be in harmony with environment (and hence stays stronger than virus) - treatment is done when the patient is already sick and we remove the sickness with needles/moxa/cupping and herbs.

I hope I was able to answer your question.
Take a step back and look at the people around you: some get sick frequently, whereas some rarely get sick. The immune system exists in all of them, but the balance can be in perfect harmony or disharmony. Acupuncture promotes qi (energy) and blood circulation to strengthen the organs that are imbalanced and causing a "hole" in your body's natural defense system, so to speak.
Hi there,

Please see your doctor for a recommendation and referral. In TCM, there is chi kung exercises, acupuncture techniques, and herbal supplements to help boost energy throughout the body. You must get a recommendation from your primary care doctor and then get a proper diagnosis from the acupuncturist for correct treatment.
Yes, there are many points that research have indicated for immuno-stimulation — these points we use daily for anyone with immunodeficiency such as HIV positive and cancer patients.
There are several studies out showing acupuncture's effectiveness in helping against cold and flu. What seems to be happening is: acupuncture is increasing T-cell count. T-cells are immune cells produced in the thymus which target and destroy bacterial and viral invaders.

How acupuncture does this is still an open question.

Whenever we consider acupuncture and Chinese medicine we have to remember this system is using a slightly different way of thinking about the human body and how it works. Reductionism does not play the same role in Chinese medical and scientific thought as it does in the west. Acupuncturists are looking at things more whole-istically; rather than focusing on one organ which may have a problem, we're looking at relationships between systems.

At the same time, unless we want to take the position "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon" was a documentary, we must recognize that the ancient peoples who left us this system were looking at the same human bodies and the same disease processes we look at today. They were simply describing things using the best language they had available. Unfortunately, that language was ancient Chinese - which no one today outside of scholars of ancient China can really read and which does not translate well in to English. This poor translation combines with a poor cultural understanding and gives rise to the quasi-mystical approach many western acupuncturists tend to adopt. In reality, the history of Chinese medicine, from very ancient times to present, is about replacing superstition and mysticism with something we today would call more "evidence based".