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Study Shows Long COVID Patients Benefit From Acupuncture

Health Brief

Study Shows Long COVID Patients Benefit From Acupuncture

Acupuncture, a form of integrative medicine, can ease pain and help with stress management. It can also help if you are dealing with long COVID!

According to a recent pilot study by the Middlesex Health Burris Center for Integrative Medicine in Connecticut, acupuncture can help when patients experience a loss of taste, a loss of smell and even brain fog—all symptoms of long COVID.

The pilot study included 20 adult patients who experienced long COVID symptoms, but did not have any other medical conditions. Each patient received two acupuncture treatments a week for three weeks. At three points in time, they were asked to complete a questionnaire, assess their ability to taste through a taste test strip, and assess their ability to smell through a “scratch and sniff” test. 

Ultimately, the research found significant improvement in brain fog, smell and taste. In fact, both smell and taste improved after just three acupuncture treatments! 

The research was published by The Journal of Alternative, Complementary & Integrative Medicine through Herald Scholarly Open Access. Authors included acupuncturist Amy Calandruccio; Deborah Pantalena, a registered nurse who serves as a clinical research nurse; Elizabeth Molle, a nurse scientist and Magnet Program director; Justin Drew, vice president of ambulatory and clinical services; and Lynn Jansky, a registered nurse who serves as professional practice and development program manager. The study can be found at HeraldOpenAccess.us/Article_PDF/9/Acupuncture-Effects-on-COVID-19-Long-Hauler-Syndrome.pdf.

What is Acupuncture?

Acupuncture is when very thin needles are inserted into your skin at strategic points on your body. The needles may sometimes be gently moved or twirled after insertion, and heat or mild electrical pulses may be applied. They usually stay in place for 15 to 25 minutes while you lie still and relax. Commonly used to treat pain, its role in medicine has expanded over time—now even more so with this latest finding regarding long COVID. 

“Although acupuncture dates back thousands of years, recent research has revealed the neurological effects within the brain, and this supports the potential effectiveness of acupuncture for treating the symptoms associated with long COVID,” says Calandruccio. 

At Middlesex Health, acupuncture is offered through its Burris Center for Integrative Medicine by Calandruccio, who is a board-certified acupuncturist. Any needles used are properly sterilized and are single use, making the risks associated with this treatment very low. Common side effects could include soreness or minor bleeding or bruising where the needles are inserted. 

Acupuncture is not a substitute for normal medical treatment. Instead, it works alongside it, treating the whole person—body, mind and spirit. 

The Middlesex Health Burris Center for Integrative Medicine (MiddlesexHealth.org/Cancer-Center/Supportive-Care-Programs/Integrative-Medicine), with locations in Middletown and Westbrook in Connecticut, offers other integrative medicine modalities in addition to acupuncture, such as massage therapy.

Photo credit: Study authors Amy Calandruccio, Deborah Pantalena and Elizabeth Molle pose in front of the Middlesex Health Burris Center for Integrative Medicine.

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