Acupuncture In The Fight Against Coronavirus
The usual winter flu season is being made much worse this year with the dramatic spread of Coronavirus. Here in the UK, Government advice is focusing on regular handwashing, using alcohol hand sanitisers, avoiding physical contact, and self-isolating if you have been exposed to the virus.
These are all effective and useful measures, but what else can be done to reduce our chances of picking up the infection – and easing the symptoms if we do?
Acupuncture: bolstering our natural defences
Traditional Chinese Medicine has much to offer for immune support, with both acupuncture and herbs.
Research has shown that acupuncture can relieve the symptoms of colds and flu by:
Enhancing the actions of natural killer cells – our immune system’s SAS soldiers
Modulating the number and ratios of immune cell to optimise our defences
Stimulating nerves to release endorphins and other chemicals that reduce pain
Increasing local microcirculation to alleviate inflammation and swelling
As well as managing actual symptoms, acupuncture can also be used on a regular basis to keep your immune system strong and help prevent infection in the first place. After all, prevention is better and easier than cure!
Chinese herbs are frequently used alongside needling, to enhance and deepen the therapeutic effects. These herbs have a long history of use for managing colds and influenza, and the prescriptions are always tailored to suit your specific needs. This is not a one-size-fits-all approach; in Traditional Chinese Medicine the treatment is always unique to the patient’s pattern of symptoms.
Foods and nutrients to fight Coronavirus
How you look after yourself in-between acupuncture sessions is just as important for immunity as the acupuncture itself. This is why I provide diet and lifestyle advice to my clients.
According to my colleague Registered Nutritionist Sally Duffin, some of the best foods and nutrients for immune health are:
- Vitamin C found in citrus fruits, broccoli, watercress, peppers, cauliflower, kiwi, and berries. This nutrient has powerful anti-viral and antioxidant actions
- Vitamin D here in the UK many people are deficient in this vitamin simply because we don’t get enough sunshine. It is advisable to take a supplement between October and April
- Vitamin A vital for the tissues lining your respiratory tract. Pure vitamin A is found in animal products like butter, eggs, liver, and milk. Beta carotene from orange and yellow fruits and vegetables can be converted into vitamin A by the body
- Zinc this is especially important for elderly people who are particularly prone to the severe effects of flu and Coronavirus. Many older people take PPI medications for acid reflux (e.g. Omeprazole, Lansoprazole, Nexium) and these medicines reduce the absorption of zinc from foods. Good dietary sources include nuts, pumpkin seeds, fish, red meat and poultry.
- A good quality, homemade chicken soup packed with ginger and garlic! Both these spices are anti-inflammatory and immune strengthening, whilst the chicken provides zinc and vital proteins.
For more Corona-specific advice, there is research around particular nutrients that can help defend against RNA viruses. These include:
– N-Acetylcysteine (NAC): a precursor to the powerful antioxidant glutathione. Other glutathione precursors include broccoli, cauliflower, and asparagus
– Selenium: best food sources are Brazil nuts, coconut, shellfish
– Beta glucans
(ref: M.F. McCarty and J.J. DiNicolantonio, Nutraceuticals have potential for boosting the type 1 interferon response to RNA viruses including including influenza and coronavirus Progress in Cardiovascular Diseases, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.pcad.2020.02.007)
For more information from Sally on how to strengthen the immune system, please follow this link and watch her video: