Coronavirus patients may find relief in an ancient form of treatment, which makes use of pins and needles. Researchers found that acupuncture can help relieve symptoms of COVID-19 patients as it can ease inflammation.

In a study published in the journal Neuron, researchers from Harvard Medical School revealed that acupuncture successfully tamed cytokine storms in mice. It activated signaling pathways, which elicited anti-inflammatory or a pro-inflammatory response.

The researchers found that acupuncture had positive effects on how mice coped with cytokine storms. This is a phenomenon that describes the overly aggressive immune response of the body, and in some COVID-19 patients, was seen to result in pneumonia, lung inflammation, and even death.

Although there are drugs that are currently being tested to combat cytokine storms, researchers from Harvard say that the ancient Chinese treatment may just be the answer.

The researchers used electroacupuncture, which is the modern version of the traditional method. This makes use of very-thin electrodes that are inserted into the skin and also into connective tissues.

The animals that received acupuncture before cytokine storms showed they had lower inflammation levels when the disease struck them after the treatment. Their rate of survival also increased from 20 to 80 percent. However, animals who underwent the treatment after the onset of the disease and during a cytokine storm endured a worse inflammation and a more serious form of the disease.

In addition, the team identified three factors that could affect the efficacy of the response of the acupuncture treatment. These include location, intensity, and timing, where in the body the treatment was administered, how strong it was, as well as when it was applied, all contribute to the efficacy of the treatment.

Quifu Ma, a professor of neurobiology at Harvard Medical School and the principal investigator of the study, said that their observation highlights the aspect that if acupuncture is practiced inappropriately, it could have detrimental results.

coronavirus symptoms now include inflammation that can cause blood clots Photo: enriquelopezgarre - Pixabay

Sara Reznikoff, an acupuncturist in Brooklyn, was not a part of the study, but she told New York Post that acupuncture is great at triggering the body's natural healing abilities and in helping with inflammation. She added that she saw great results in treating post-COVID-19 symptoms of patients.