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Acupuncture and COVID-19

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Focusing on good health and safety has become the new normal; whether you are sick or healthy, the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted everyone. And with the Delta variant on the rise, health and wellness has become even more important.

For millennia, people have turned to traditional Chinese medicine in the midst of health crises to treat symptoms and ease the effects of viruses and infections. Withstanding the test of time, this ancient medicine has never been so relevant. With new cases of COVID-19 on the rise and an even greater population of those dealing with post-COVID symptoms, many are turning to acupuncture to aid in their recovery.

What major issues do COVID survivors face?

According to a recent study from the University of Washington, 30-36% of those affected by COVID-19 are now considered “long-haulers” who experience symptoms lasting more than one year.

Fatigue is one of the top concerns of COVID-19 survivors – this is not surprising as the body becomes exhausted from the work of fighting off such a deadly virus. Patients will complain that walking up a flight of stairs is exhausting or going back to work feels overwhelming.

Another common complaint is insomnia, which can include waking up often, having vivid dreams and experiencing an overactive brain.

Many also report lack of smell and taste. In these cases, some may try to add more salt and spices to their food or over-caffeinate to deal with brain fog. Unfortunately, these self-remedies can mask issues and sometimes do more harm than good. A new option in your arsenal should be acupuncture which can quickly tap into the body’s natural self-healing processes.

Common COVID-19 symptoms treated by acupuncture

  • Chronic fatigue
  • Headache
  • Shortness of breath
  • Heart palpitations
  • Coughing
  • Difficult sleeping
  • Joint and muscle pain
  • Loss of smell, taste or appetite
  • Chest pain
  • Difficulty concentrating or “brain fog”
  • Stress and anxiety
  • Depression and fear
  • Neuropathy
  • Grief and sadness
  • Digestive issues
  • Nausea

How does acupuncture work to treat these symptoms?

Acupuncture is a traditional Chinese medicine practice that takes a holistic approach to care: Each treatment is designed uniquely to the individual whether they seek preventative or restorative care.

For those recovering from COVID-19, acupuncture may support healing and improve quality of life. In fact, a Harvard University study last year showed acupuncture can relieve the effects of cytokine storms, during which our immune system can go into overdrive to fight off an infection like COVID-19. The result of these storms is severe inflammation and damage to the body’s tissues and organs. By reducing the inflammation that causes this immune response, acupuncture can be used as an effective component in your COVID recovery plan.

In addition to treating cytokine storms, acupuncture can also treat stress-induced symptoms according to an Oxford University study. Lowering anxiety and stress is another great way to combat COVID.

What’s next?

As the pandemic draws on past the two-year mark, studies continue to suggest acupuncture as a safe and effective intervention for people suffering with COVID-19. While a simple treatment, it is incredibly powerful. Turning to acupuncture has never been more suitable than now for maintaining good health.

Learn more about Acupuncture at Ochsner.

*This post was originally published in 2021 and has been updated. 

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