‘Acupuncture in the Treatment of COVID-19: An Exploratory Study’ is the title of a paper that I was alerted to. Here is its abstract:

The coronavirus COVID-19 has presented a serious new threat to humans
since the first case was reported in Wuhan, China on 31 December 2019.
By the end of February 2020 the virus has spread to 57 countries with
nearly 86,000 cases, and there is currently no effective vaccination
available. Chinese herbal medicine has been used in this epidemic with
encouraging results, but with concerns regarding disturbance of patients’
digestive function. This study aims to explore the role of acupuncture in
treating COVID-19 by investigating relevant current literature along with
classical Chinese medicine texts on epidemics. Based on this analysis,
acupuncture points and strategies are suggested for practitioners to use
as a guide to treatment.

The paper is largely devoid of what I would call evidence. Here are a few excerpts to give you a flavour:

Epidemic qi attacks the body rapidly and violently,
therefore clinical features can change dramatically and vary
significantly between cases. Severe symptoms can develop
within just a few days. The following clinical possibilities
should be borne in mind:
• Once damp-cold becomes significant, it can: a) block
the Lungs causing dypnoea; b) attack the Pericardium
causing chest tension, nausea, cold sweat and shock;
c) cause Kidney yang failure, inducing haematuria,
dehydration, abnormal urination and weight loss; and
d) damage the Stomach and Spleen, leading to vomiting
and diarrhoea.
• Once damp-cold turns to heat, it will occlude the Lungs
and yangming (Stomach and Large Intestine) resulting
in fever, coughing, chest tension and shortness of breath,
fatigue, poor appetite, nausea, vomiting, bloating,

diarrhoea or constipation, eventually destroying the
body’s yin and evolving into endogenous wind syndrome.

How can one avoid contracting such a ferocious epidemic
virus? The Nei jing (Inner Classic) provides the answer:
people with strong zheng (upright) qi will avoid the
worst effects of epidemic infection despite the fact
that everybody, no matter their age or gender, may be
affected.24 Because each individual has a different physical
constitution, the manifestations of the disease will vary,
and so a single herbal prescription cannot be universally
effective for every patient. Acupuncture is conducted
with patients on a one-to-one basis, and is oriented more
to provide symptomatic relief than the generic herbal
decoctions applied during epidemic periods. The relevant
acupuncture protocols, based on the Chinese government
four-stage differentiation scheme for treating COVID-19,
are outlined below.

Oddly, the authors come closest to providing actual clinical evidence in their strange and somewhat lengthy conclusions:

… Historically, acupuncture has been used effectively to treat epidemic
infectious diseases, and despite historical neglect, it could
become a crucial weapon in the battle against COVID-19
and other future epidemics. Of course, practitioners should
ensure that they are properly protected when working with
infected patients, which means wearing a protective suit
and administering acupuncture in a hospital environment
(which brings its own challenges).
Inspiring evidence of the role of acupuncture has been
appearing since the beginning of March 2020. Professor
Zou Xu is a critical care medical expert from Guangdong
TCM hospital. As one of the supporting medical staff in
Wuhan Leishenshan hospital, he always takes acupuncture
needles during his ward inspections to help COVID-19
infected patients, especially those with acute symptoms
such as shortness of breath, coughing, dizziness, insomnia,
restlessness, palpitations, diarrhoea or vomiting. The
effect of his acupuncture was often instantaneous. A 72
year old female patient with high blood pressure and
diabetic chronic illness complained of a lower back ache,
whereupon Zou needled the point Taixi KID-3 and the
patient was able to stand upright immediately. Zou
explains that acupuncture can improve the patients’
oxygen supply and consumption, helping them regain
yuan-original qi while blocking the toxicity attacking the
Lung. Most importantly, acupuncture is not aiming to
destroy the epidemic qi, but instead it can influence the
conditions of its survival in the body.31 Zou’s team was in
charge of 16 patients, of which six patients
volunteered for Chinese medicine treatment alone;
as of 1st March 2020, all six have fully recovered and
have been discharged from hospital. In another ‘Report
from the Front Line in Wuhan’, Professor Liu Li Hong has
also documented the work of his team treating patients
with COVID-19 in Wuhan, emphasising the importance
of acupuncture in helping patients immediately with
symptoms such as stuffiness in the chest, shortness of
breath, abdominal discomfort, itchy throat, cough,
dizziness, pain and sweating.

In my view, this sentence alone merits an admission to my ‘corona-virus quackery club’ (CVQC): Historically, acupuncture has been used effectively to treat epidemic infectious diseases, and despite historical neglect, it could become a crucial weapon in the battle against COVID-19 and other future epidemics. And, of course, there are plenty other acupuncturists claiming similar things on the Inernet.


Welcome to the CVQV, traditional acupuncturists!

4 Responses to Acupuncture in the Treatment of COVID-19? … [traditional acupuncturists join the CVQC]

  • Welcome! Nice to have you on board, traditional acupuncturists!

  • I was wondering how many acupuncturists were hired in
    those new hospitals in Wuhan during COVID-19 confinement. If only one of them could come to us to and talk about his/her contributions to heal the virus patients. I am anxious…

    • “General Secretary Xi Jinping attaches great importance to the prevention and control of the new crown pneumonia epidemic, personally leading, directing, and personally deploying this struggle, and has repeatedly stressed the need to adhere to the combination of traditional Chinese and western medicine and the use of traditional Chinese medicine. Under the leadership of the Party Central Committee with Comrade Xi Jinping at the core, implement the deployment of the Central Leading Group for Response to Outbreaks, and in accordance with the requirements of Premier Li Keqiang and Comrades Wang Huning, and the Central Guiding Group with Vice Premier Sun Chunlan as the team leader, strongly promote the comprehensive intervention of Chinese medicine…”
      Chinanews Report

      Modern medicine aka “western” medicine – to save lives. Traditional Chinese medicine for different reasons. China either abandons TCM as the antiquated nonsense that it is or clings to it as a national emblem. Also, it’s money for old rope.

  • I am Hr. SASEETHARAN , MD.Acupuncturist.from India. Best, much tried with the immunity meridian point s of the stuffy nose , chest congestion, throat dry, irritation , patients, it gives good result and initiate the anti allergy, breathing meridian point s which gave relief in due course used few mudras to eliminate nose block and chest congestion. I feel the symptoms of Covid19 collective of the earlier mentioned sequences.
    I am not claim on the treatment but the method of acupuncture points may give clear scenario instead of non availability of medication.

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