How Does Acupuncture help the Flu Virus

How does acupuncture help the flu virus? The flu this year is a doozy! Australia said it would be. At least those were the reports coming out of Australia.

How does Acupuncture help the flu

Different strains of influenza circulate each year. According to the CDC, this year, influenza A — specifically H3N2 — is the prevalent strain.   When this happens, we seem to see more serious cases of the flu, especially in young children and elderly adults.   To add insult to injury, the vaccine effectiveness is decreased. The end effect is resulting in more total infections and more hospitalizations.

Colds and flus come under the category of a virus. Viruses in general, are not treatable by antibiotics.   Which is why when you have a cold, going to a doctor isn’t all that helpful, other than to diagnose that, yup you have a cold or the flu and of course to rule out anything more serious.   Traditional treatment is get rest, drink plenty of fluids, take vitamin C and airborne, etc…. And take some variety of cold/flu medicine which helps to alleviate the symptoms until your body can fight the virus and heal itself.

Enter acupuncture. Since it’s up to our body to heal itself when it comes to viruses, acupuncture makes so much sense. The basic concept behind acupuncture is all about balancing our bodies. And more specifically, it’s about building up and nourishing the body, when it’s deficient as well as calming the areas that are in excess. Traditional Chinese Medicine operates on the premise that when our bodies are in balance, we are healthy.   When it goes out of balance, then we get sick or disease occurs.

Since an acupuncture treatment helps to balance our “out of balance” body, it is a perfect modality to help our bodies fight a cold or flu.   Acupuncture can help prevent the cold/flu from coming on as well. And once our bodies have succumb to the imbalance, and we are sick, acupuncture balances our bodies to help it get back on track.


Our first choice would be to prevent a cold or flu. Nip it in the bud, so to speak.   The first step in prevention is to keep our immune system boosted.   How do we accomplish this? Our Immune system is best served by our body being balanced. Thus the acupuncture is brilliant at balancing our bodies, which in turn impacts our immune system. Chinese Herbs are also used in prevention.

Treating a cold in process

You didn’t prevent your cold, so now how do you move the cold?   Again, we want to balance the body with acupuncture. One of the things that frequently happens, is that the acupuncture treatment pushes the symptoms through more quickly.   The effect is often that the symptoms become worse, but they last a shorter time frame. So it’s as if we are compressing all the symptoms into 2 or 3 days rather than the symptoms dragging out over a week or more.

For all of you readers that like to understand the ins and outs of how it works, here is how we approach it from an acupuncture perspective.

The Acupuncture Treatment and thought Process behind it.

What happens when a patient comes into the clinic with cold/flu symptoms. From a Traditional Chinese Medicine perspective;

Here are some of the variables that the acupuncturist must determine:

  • Is there a pathogenic factor in the body? If it is in the body, the lung pulse is really big and bounding, indicating that the germ is in the body.
  • Is the immune system stronger than the pathogenic factor ( the germ.) They know this by feeling all the patient’s pulses. (There are 6 different pulses in acupuncture)
  • Is the temp of the body showing heat or cold?   If the body is hot, then it shows fever and excess.   If it’s cold, it is more of a deficiency.

With all these factors, the acupuncturist will select their needling points based on how to either nourish the deficiency, or calm the excess so that the immune system can function at its peak.

After the cold, you start feeling better we want to do more treatments to make sure the immune system and body is really strong.   One of the things about this year’s flu is patients start to feel better, and so go on about their life, and they get “taken down” again. This time it’s the cough, the fatigue, congestion, fever, phlegm, at a much deeper level.

Then treatment has to be more aggressive to support the body. Because the germs are still there.

In addition to the acupuncture, the practitioner may have you take some Chinese Herbs that support in the same way.   Nourish a deficiency or calm some excess. The herbs are selected based on what’s happening with the pathogenic factor (germ) and what’s happening to the person.

Western Medicine approach

Flu symptom relieverIn Western medicine, they focus on the germ. Unfortunately, most flus are viral, thus antibiotics aren’t effective.   The next best thing is to get cough medicines, flu medicines that are designed to mask the symptoms so patients can sleep and at least feel better.   They aren’t better, their symptoms are simply masked until their bodies can fight off the infection.



The Emotional Component; The Unseen Factor

One of the challenges of this particular flue is patients get afraid of how long it will take until they get better. Their schedules are full and they have a lot of things to do.   They have heard it can take 3 – 6 weeks to recover. That creates some stress which is not helpful to an immune system that is already working hard.   Thus, there is an emotional component to it, and Chinese Medicine works very well to heal the body both emotionally as well as physically!!

To submit an inquiry to one of our professionals, email us at
Have a question about acupuncture or some of our other services? Send us your question and we’ll get back to you shortly with a reply!

Search Posts:

New on the blog: