Can Acupuncture Alleviate Symptoms Of Common Cold And Flu?

Acupuncture is an ancient form of traditional Chinese medicine that has been practiced for thousands of years. It involves the insertion of thin needles into specific points on the body to stimulate energy flow and restore balance. While acupuncture is commonly known for its effectiveness in treating pain and chronic conditions, many people also seek acupuncture as a potential remedy for the common cold and flu. In this article, we will explore whether acupuncture can indeed alleviate symptoms of these common illnesses.

Understanding the Common Cold and Flu

The common cold and flu are viral infections that affect millions of people worldwide each year. Symptoms of the common cold typically include a runny or stuffy nose, sneezing, coughing, sore throat, and mild fatigue. On the other hand, flu symptoms tend to be more severe and can also include high fever, body aches, chills, headaches, and extreme fatigue. Both the common cold and flu can significantly impact our daily lives and productivity.

The Role of Acupuncture in Treating Illnesses

According to traditional Chinese medicine, illnesses arise due to imbalances in the body’s energy flow, known as Qi. By inserting needles into specific acupuncture points, practitioners believe they can restore the balance and promote the body’s natural healing process. Acupuncture is believed to stimulate the production of endorphins, improve circulation, and boost the immune system, making it potentially beneficial for alleviating symptoms associated with the common cold and flu.

Research on Acupuncture and Common Cold/Flu Symptoms

While acupuncture has been widely used for centuries, scientific research on its effectiveness in treating the common cold and flu is still limited. However, several studies have shown promising results:

1. Symptom Relief: A study published in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine found that acupuncture significantly reduced the duration and severity of common cold symptoms in participants. Those who received acupuncture reported fewer days with a runny nose, sneezing, and sore throat compared to the control group.

2. Immune Enhancement: Another study conducted at Kyung Hee University in South Korea demonstrated that acupuncture increased the production of natural killer cells and cytokines, which play significant roles in immune response and defense against viral infections.

3. Prevention and Recurrence: Acupuncture may also have a preventive effect. A study published in the Journal of Traditional Chinese Medicine showed that regular acupuncture treatments reduced the recurrence rate of the common cold in 187 participants compared to a control group.

Complementary Approach to Conventional Treatment

It’s important to note that acupuncture should not replace conventional medical treatment for the common cold and flu. However, it can be used as a complementary therapy to alleviate symptoms and potentially expedite recovery. Many individuals who regularly receive acupuncture sessions report faster relief from congestion, coughing, and general discomfort associated with these illnesses.

Additional Benefits of Acupuncture

Aside from potentially alleviating common cold and flu symptoms, acupuncture offers additional benefits, which may indirectly enhance your overall well-being during illness:

– Stress Reduction: Acupuncture sessions are known for their relaxing effects, which can help reduce stress and promote better sleep, enabling your body to recover more efficiently.

– Pain Relief: If you experience body aches, headaches, or sinus pressure during a cold or the flu, acupuncture may provide relief by targeting specific pain points and releasing endorphins.

– Improvement in Energy Levels: Many individuals report an increase in energy levels after acupuncture, which can be beneficial when dealing with the fatigue that often accompanies illness.


While more research is needed to definitively confirm acupuncture’s effectiveness in alleviating symptoms of the common cold and flu, the existing studies show promising results. Acupuncture can potentially reduce the severity and duration of common cold symptoms, enhance the immune response, and provide complementary relief alongside conventional treatment. If you are considering acupuncture for your cold or flu symptoms, it is advisable to consult with a qualified acupuncturist who can tailor the treatment to your specific needs and overall health.