Needle Away the Bugs!


By Yi Qiao, LAc, OMD

Flu season is coming, so if you are prone to catching colds often or easily, or if you are seeking to boost your immune system to protect yourself from getting sick, consider some Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) such as Acupuncture before the cold weather hits.

“Prevention is more important than treatment” is an important point of TCM theory. “The Emperor’s Inner Canon”, is an ancient Chinese medical text that has been treated as the fundamental doctrinal source for Chinese medicine for more than two millennia.

There is an aphorism in this book ““If there is adequate zheng-qi, the body would not succumb to a pathogenic attack”. Zheng-qi is a general denoting of the bodies functional activities for resistance and recovery, which is similar to the immune system in modern medicine. Therefore, strengthening or boosting zheng-qi is one of the major treatment strategies for TCM in fighting illness.

Acupuncture is one of several treatment modalities of TCM. It’s inception in China more than 2,500 years ago has been traditionally used to prevent, diagnose and treat disease, as well as to improve general health. Acupuncture involves the insertion of extremely thin needles through your skin at strategic points on your body for improving the blood circulation and balancing the flow of qi (also know as chi), which is energy or life force.

Recently, scientists have been able to determine how acupuncture works with the body’s immune system. Acupuncture is able to boost the primary defense mechanism against organisms that make humans sick by stimulating nerve cells that trigger the release of hormones into the blood and immune functions, increase blood cell count and enhance lymphocyte and natural killer cells activity. Acupuncture also acts on a complex immune building system that regulates white blood cells directly linked to the fight against infections, allergic reactions, and even autoimmune disorders. There is also research that finds acupuncture can increase serotonin and endogenous opioid peptide levels in the blood stream while also decreasing cortisol levels. This can decrease stress levels and improve the immune system.

For people who are seeking to boost their immune system, oftentimes a multidisciplinary approach is best and acupuncture can be worked in tandem with your physician and your treatment plan. For the best results, make regular acupuncture visits as part of your preventative regime to ward off colds and flu, as multiple acupuncture treatments are needed for the body to respond. Continuing with “tune up” visits can also be beneficial until cold and flu season is over.

Acupuncture is an effective way to obtain and maintain a healthy immune system. Consider it in your quest to achieving optimal health.

  1. Traditional Acupuncture Increases the Content of Beta-Endorphin in Immune Cells and Influences Mitogen Induced Proliferation Mauro Bianchi, Edda Jotti, Paola Sacerdote, and Alberto E. Panerai
  2. Acupuncture Regulates Leukocyte Subpopulations in Human Peripheral Blood Nobuo Yamaguchi, Takashi Takahashi, Masahiro Sakuma1 , Toshiroh Sugita , Kumiko Uchikawa, Satoshi Sakaihara1 , Tsugiyasu Kanda , Matsuo Arai3 and Kenji Kawakita
  3. Effect of acupuncture treatment on the immune function impairment found in anxious women.Arranz L1Guayerbas NSiboni LDe la Fuente M.
  4. Therapeutic modulation of the psychoneuroimmune system by medical acupuncture creates enhanced feelings of well-being. Walling A. J Am Acad Nurse Pract. 2006 Apr;18(4):135-43.
  5. Acupuncture and immunomodulation. Cabioglu MT, Cetin BE. Am J Chin Med. 2008;36(1):25-36.
  6. Electroacupuncture improves imbalance of autonomic function under restraint stress in conscious rats. Imai K, et al. Am J Chin Med. 2009;37(1):45-55.
  7. Clinical and endocrinological changes after electro-acupuncture treatment in patients with osteoarthritis of the knee Pain. Ahsin S, et al. 2009 Dec 15;147(1-3):60-6.

Yi Qiao, LAc, OMD, is a Licensed California Acupuncturist  who completed her training at the Beijing University of Traditional Chinese Medicine. She teaches Acupuncture in the Los Angeles area, and has authored two books – “Traditional Chinese Medicine Study Guide, Herbal Formula” and “Traditional Chinese Medicine Study Guide, Diagnosis”. Schedule your Appointment with Yi Qiao by emailing