Can Acupuncture Support the Immune System? 4.95/5 (19)

can acupuncture support the immune system?

Your Immune System is Vital!

Lately, with the outbreak of the Coronavirus, it seems the world at large is looking for options to strengthen the immune system. A healthy immune system is a crucial part of overcoming any type of infection. Those with a weakened immune system are the most susceptible to severe illness or complications—particularly during an epidemic.

Here’s the good news: Acupuncture is great for supporting the immune system!

In today’s blog I have two things to share about acupuncture and the immune system. First, I’ll teach you how I talk to my patients about acupuncture’s immune-boosting power. Then, I’ll share a case study with you. The patient in the study came in with a seriously compromised immune system. We were able to get excellent results with ONE treatment.

Patient Education

According to the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), those with a weakened immune system (i.e elderly, HIV, cancer, leukemia, chemotherapy, chronic health conditions and those taking drugs that suppress the immune system) are at higher risk for developing serious complications when viruses are prevalent. These precautions are the same even during typical flu season. The message is simple. It is ALWAYS important for anyone with a weakened immune system to take extra precautions.

Here’s what’s important…

Patients who come in for regular acupuncture care have an advantage over those who do not.

  • Imbalances in the acupuncture pathways often arise BEFORE the patient experiences symptoms. Early treatment often helps the patient avoid sickness. 
  • When the body is in balance, the patient’s immune system is stronger.
  • Patients who get regular acupuncture tend to overcome sickness faster than those who are not receiving acupuncture.

There is plenty of clinical research to show that acupuncture helps to regulate the immune system. Acupuncturists have multiple treatment strategies to achieve this, including acupuncture, herbs, diet, auriculotherapy, etc. 

Are you teaching your patients the value of acupuncture to strengthen the immune system? It’s a really easy discussion when you focus on acupuncture pathways.

Simple Talking Points

 Here are some simple “talking points” I use with my patients, based on the theories of Traditional Chinese Medicine: 

acupuncture for immune system
  • Acupuncture pathways begin at the surface level and then go deeper into the body.
  • The surface pathways include the muscles and skin, and serve as your first defense against pathogens.
  • You know your immune system is fighting to protect you when you begin experiencing symptoms such as aching muscles, fever, and chills. In Chinese medicine we call this a Wei Qi response.
  • Patients typically feel these symptoms in the Small Intestine and Urinary Bladder pathways (pictured right).
  • Early acupuncture and Chinese herbs can help the symptoms to resolve quickly and stop a virus from going internal. 
  • Once the condition goes deeper and reaches the internal organs, the condition becomes more complicated. 
  • Even clinical research agrees that “prevention before the onset of the diseases or intervening in an early stage of disease [with Traditional Chinese Medicine] is much better than treating after the onset” (Liang, 2015).

Okay, let’s move on to the case study and a practical treatment strategy. 

Case Study

48 year-old Female

Chief Complaint: Low Immune Function

Recently a patient came into my clinic AFTER suffering for months with a virus. After trying the Western medicine route to overcome her virus, she finally called me to book an appointment. By the time she came into the clinic her symptoms were out of control. 

Case History

She remembers first feeling fatigue. She thought it was due to stress. Eventually she, developed additional symptoms of bloating, constipation and pressure in her epigastrium. Over a period of two months she lost 30 pounds without any lifestyle changes. This is when she decided to seek evaluation from her Western medical doctor. Blood analysis and a CT scan concluded that her electrolytes were off and she had low potassium levels. Her next step was to see a gastroenterologist. 

Because of the complexity of her symptoms and her unexplained weight loss, I was a bit concerned. I agreed to treat her a few times to see if we could make changes, but I recommended that she be prepared to see her gastroenterologist if symptoms did not resolve and if she continued to lose weight. 

Graph Analysis

AcuGraph analysis was spot on. It was obvious that her energy levels were depleted. Look at her average… The exhaustion she was experiencing made perfect sense. A score of twenty is very low. 

Treatment Plan

When energy levels are severely low, AcuGraph makes a recommendation to use the Kidney Return Protocol. Miki Shima, OMD teaches that the Kidney Return Protocol is a very effective treatment strategy to boost  the patient’s overall immune system when they have “little or no qi with which to work” (Shima, 2005).

NOTE: If you would like to learn more about the specifics of the Kidney Return Protocol, how it works, and how to do it—here are some resources for you.

This treatment is one of my favorites for boosting energy levels when a patient is seriously depleted. It involves using six needles and four sets of ion pumping cords. 

This is a simple, yet incredibly profound treatment. 

In essence, the ion pumping cords pull energy from the Urinary Bladder (UB) channel via UB 40 and redistribute it back into the body via UB 23 and UB11. The selected points are very powerful when used together with ion pumping cords: 

  • UB 40 is the He-Sea point on the BL channel. It clears heat from the blood, soothes the sinews and frees the channels. 
  • UB 23 is the Back Shu of the Kidney channel.
  • UB 11 is the Influential Point of Bones and the Sea of Blood point.

One Week Later

Take a look at the changes that occurred within just one week. This is HUGE. The patient’s average went from 20 to 113. 

acupuncture for immune system

Not only did the graph change, but as you might expect, her symptoms changed as well.

  • The epigastric pain was gone.
  • Her constipation was resolved. She was now having normal, daily bowel movements. 
  • The look and glow on her face had changed. She no longer looked gaunt and gray. 
  • Her appetite was back.
  • AND—she gained 6 pounds!

After she looked at the graph, she said:  “I wish I had come to you sooner.”


There are a few lessons to be learned here. 

1. Acupuncture supports the immune system.

Coronavirus is the big buzz word right now, but the truth is there are MANY viruses which can affect a person’s health. Boosting your immunity is ALWAYS important. 

Teach your patients to recognize what it feels like when their bodies are out of balance—whether they are experiencing pain, digestive issues, or stress. In my experience, stress is one of the biggest contributors to a weakened immune system.

2. The patient’s graph can indicate low immune system function. 

AcuGraph incorporates evidence-based medicine into your diagnostic strategy. When you have a system that measures energy from treatment to treatment, it becomes obvious when something is grossly out of the norm. I have many wellness patients who regularly come in for their monthly tune-up. I know what their “normal imbalances” look like because I graph them every time they come in. 

When I see something that is REALLY out of the ordinary, like an extremely low graph, I can treat the problem BEFORE extreme symptoms arise

3. The Kidney Return Protocol is a GREAT resource for boosting energy levels. 

When a patient comes in with really low energy levels, it is wise to use the Kidney Return Protocol to boost their energy levels rather than doing a typical acupuncture treatment. Once you have built their energy levels up, your treatment will be more effective. 

Often you will see low energy levels with patients who are experiencing exhaustion, lethargy, chronic health conditions, autoimmunity, cancer, chemotherapy, or undergoing hospice care. 

I hope something I have shared is helpful for you and your patients. Let’s keep spreading the word that acupuncture is GREAT to support the immune system. 

Best regards,

~Dr. Kimberly


Arranz, L., Guayerbas, N., Siboni, L., & Fuente, M. D. L. (2007). Effect of Acupuncture Treatment on the Immune Function Impairment Found in Anxious Women. The American Journal of Chinese Medicine, 35(01), 35–51. doi: 10.1142/s0192415x07004606

Liang, F., Cooper, E. L., Wang, H., Jing, X., Quispe-Cabanillas, J. G., & Kondo, T. (2015). Acupuncture and Immunity. Retrieved from

People at High Risk For Flu Complications. (2018, August 27). Retrieved from

Shima, M., & Chace, C. (2005). The channel divergences: deeper pathways of the web. Boulder, CO: Blue Poppy Press.

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Dr. Kimberly Thompson, DACM, L.Ac.

Dr. Kimberly Thompson, DACM, L.Ac. is a US licensed acupuncturist in the state of Idaho and certified in the treatment of acupuncture, Oriental medicine and Chinese herbology by the National Certification Commission of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (NCCAOM). Kimberly wears multiple hats in the acupuncture community. She owns her private clinic, Meridian Family Acupuncture. She has spent the last 10 years working for Miridia Technology as an acupuncture Research Analyst–where she helps plan, develop, and integrate modern diagnostic and treatment tools for the ever-evolving scientific world of acupuncture. Kimberly is a world-renown teacher, blogger, columnist, and mentor in the acupuncture community.

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