Can acupuncture treat Covid-19 diseases?

Acupuncture, which comes from traditional Chinese medicine, could help in the treatment of pathologies related to Covid-19, as shown by experiments on animals.

Jean-Marc Sabatier (DR)
Jean-Marc Sabatier (DR)

By Jean-Marc Sabatier *

During a viral infection, the SARS-CoV-2 virus induces a dysfunction of the renin-angiotensin system (RAS) by binding to the ACE2 receptor of target cells. This RAS dysfunction induced by the virus (or even by the vaccine spike protein) results in the overactivation of its deleterious AT1R receptor present on many organs and tissues.
The overactivated AT1R receptor is responsible for Covid-19 diseases via its pro-hypertensive, pro-inflammatory, pro-oxidant, pro-thrombotic, pro-angiogenic, pro-fibrotic, pro-hypertrophic, and nitric oxide production inhibition activities.

Chemical mediators

When the RAS and its AT1R receptor are overactivated, there is a high production of renin (which converts angiotensinogen into angiotensin-1, which is the precursor of angiotensin-2), an excess of angiotensin-2 (which overactivates the RAS and the AT1R receptor), and a release of aldosterone (via the excess of angiotensin-2).
Excess angiotensin-2 leads to activation of the sympathetic nervous system, which controls the body’s “automatic” activities (heart rate/breathing, blood circulation, digestion and waste elimination, smooth muscle contraction, etc.) and the functioning of organs (kidneys, digestive system, etc.). Chemical mediators of this system, such as adrenaline and noradrenaline, allow precise control of these functions.
Activation of the sympathetic nervous system can be accompanied by cardiac (tachycardia) or intestinal disturbances, hypertension/vasoconstriction of blood vessels, dilation of the bladder and/or bronchial tubes, increased sweating, release of glucose by the liver, additional secretion of adrenaline and noradrenaline by the adrenal glands, and others.

Acupuncture in animals

Surprisingly enough, it has been demonstrated experimentally in animals that acupuncture (an empirical method of care based on the use of needles stimulating specific points on the skin), or low frequency electro-acupuncture from 2 to 30 Hz (a variant of acupuncture allowing the delivery of weak electric currents through the skin), or even moxibustion (it consists in stimulating an acupuncture point via heat using moxas), was able to act on hypertension and metabolic homeostasis of many key molecules directly or indirectly involved in the RAS and Covid-19 diseases (for example : renin, angiotensin-2, aldosterone, endothelin-1, nitric oxide, dopamine, serotonin, norepinephrine, enkephalins/endorphins, etc. ).
These data suggest that acupuncture -an ancestral technique from traditional Chinese medicine- could be an approach of interest for the treatment or potential relief of pathologies related to Covid-19, and more particularly to Covid long.

*Jean-Marc Sabatier is Director of Research at the CNRS and holds a PhD in Cell Biology and Microbiology. Editor-in-Chief of the international scientific journals: “Coronaviruses” and “Infectious Disorders – Drug Targets”. He speaks here in his own name.