Acupuncture Shows Efficacy Against Post-COVID Effects

Acupuncture Image -

A substantial number of people who become infected with COVID-19, whether documented by a positive test or not, experience long-term effects, often referred to as long COVID.1 The symptoms and health conditions of long COVID can last weeks or even months and potentially years following infection. They may resolve and then return later.


While people who have more severe COVID-19 infection are at greater risk for developing long COVID, anyone who has had the illness, even a mild case or had no symptoms at all, can be affected. Vaccination, while effective for preventing hospitalization and death, offers little protection against long COVID.3 


In fact, long COVID symptoms like brain fog, headache, high blood pressure, among others, have been associated with vaccines, albeit uncommonly.4 Though research has not definitely identified a mechanism for long COVID effects, it has been postulated that coronavirus remains in tissue after resolution of the infection, causing organ damage.


Research suggests that at least 1 in 5 people aged 18 to 64 years have had at least one symptom/medical condition following COVID-19 infection. This increases to at least 1 in every 4 people aged 65 years and older.2


For many people, long COVID interferes with their ability to perform activities of daily life and can lead to disability.1,3,4 To prevent such disability and protect against organ damage, it is important that people with long COVID receive effective treatment. Anecdotal reports support the use of acupuncture for resolving the symptoms of long COVID and restoring function and health.5-7 Patients report relief is as few as 2 to 3 sessions and resolution with 10 sessions.



Preliminary findings from clinical studies further support the role of acupuncture for the treatment of post-COVID-19 syndrome.8-10


One study involving 85 patients found11:


- 85.71% were cured of shortness of breath and fatigue

- 84.62% were cured of body pain

- 82.35% were cured of brain fog

- 71.42% were cured of irregular menstruation


72 patients (~85%) achieved the clinically cured level; only 13 patients (~15%) were identified as non-responders.


Researchers have explored how acupuncture might improve the symptoms of long COVID.12


They found several synergistic mechanisms of acupuncture in these patients that are associated with:


- Suppression of inflammatory stress

- Improvement in immunity

- Enhancement of regulation of the nervous system via activation of several important pathways (eg, neuroactive ligand-receptor interaction, calcium signaling pathway, cancer pathway, viral carcinogenesis, Staphylococcus aureus infection, and so on).


The researchers also reported that acupuncture may be especially beneficial in patients with long COVID and cancer, cardiovascular disease, and/or obesity.


The prevalence of long COVID-19 symptoms and conditions and their impact on patients’ ability to perform activities of daily life and quality of life underscore the need for effective treatment. Findings from real-world experience and clinical studies show a viable role of acupuncture in the treatment of long COVID-19.


Most Common Symptoms/Conditions of Long Covid1



- Tiredness, fatigue that interferes with daily life

- Worsening symptoms following physical/mental effort (post-exertional malaise)

- Fever

Respiratory & Heart

- Difficulty breathing, shortness of breath

- Cough

- Chest pain

- Fast-beating, pounding heart


- Difficulty thinking, concentrating (brain fog)

- Headache

- Sleep problems

- Dizziness when standing up

- Pins-and-needles feeling

- Change in smell, taste

- Depression, anxiety


- Diarrhea

- Stomach pain


- Joint, muscle pain

- Rash

- Changes in menstruation



Written by:  Diann Peterson, Medical Writer, New York City Metro Area



  1. Long COVID or post-COVID conditions. Atlanta, GA: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Updated July 11, 2022.
  2. Mayo Clinic Staff. COVID-19: long-term effects. June 28, 2022.
  3. Sullivan K. Vaccines offer little protection against long COVID, study finds. May 25, 2022.
  4. Couzin-Frankel J, Vogel G. In rare cases, coronavirus vaccines may cause long COVID-like symptoms. Science. 2022;375(6579). Reported by Sullivan K. January 20, 2022.
  5. Grissmer J. Acupuncture for COVID long-haulers, pt.2: case studies. Acupuncture Today. 2021;22(09).
  6. Win P. Acupuncture treatment for long-term health impacts of COVID-19. About Acupuncture.
  7. Hollifield M, Cocozza K, Calloway T, et al. Improvement in long-COVD symptoms using acupuncture: a case study. Med Acupunct. 2022;34(3):172-176.
  8. Chen C, Zhan J, Wen H, et al. Current state of research about acupuncture for the treatment of COVID-19: A scoping review. Integr Med Res. 2021;10(suppl):100801.
  9. Trager RJ, Brewka EC, Kaiser CM, et al. Acupuncture in multidisciplinary treatment for post-COVID-19 syndrome. Med Acupunct. 2022;34(3):177-183.
  10. Morita A, Murakami A, Uchihara T, et al. Case report: acupuncture is an effective treatment for olfactory dysfunction in the post COVID-19 condition. Front Neurol 2022;August. https:/
  11. Acupuncture long COVID-19 relief findings. August 26, 2022.
  12. Han Z, Zhang Y, Want P, Tang Q, Zhang K. Is acupuncture effective in the treatment of COVID-19 related symptoms? Based on bioinformatics/network topology strategy. Brief Bioinformatics. 2021:1-11.

[Back to main news page]