Two independent investigations conducted in China have shown acupuncture to be effective in relieving flu symptoms, and in shortening the duration of the illness.
Researchers from Taizhou Municipal Hospital studied 80 patients diagnosed with H1N1 influenza. Forty patients were given Tamiflu alone, and forty were given Tamiflu plus acupuncture. The patients treated with acupuncture had significantly shorter recovery times for relieving fever, pharyngodynia (pharynx or throat pain), and coughing. The researchers concluded that the addition of acupuncture increased the effectiveness of Tamiflu in the treatment of influenza. Furthermore, the researchers concluded that acupuncture is both effective and safe; acupuncture did not produce any severe adverse effects.
In another (non-human) investigation, researchers at Nanjing University of Traditional Chinese Medicine looked into the treatment of H1N1 influenza infected rats with acupuncture and moxibustion, and the outcomes in mortality. The rats were divided into three groups: the first received acupuncture, the second moxibustion, and the third received no therapies. The mortality rate of the group treated with acupuncture was 63.5%, compared to 78.6% for the moxibustion group, and 96.4% for the group who received no treatment. Lab tests revealed that in addition to significantly lowering the mortality rate, acupuncture increased interferon serum levels (interferon is a group of proteins called cytokines shared by rats and humans that fight viruses), and improved phagocytosis (viral death by white blood cells).
I want to point out that in the latter study only a single acupuncture point was used. It also appears evident that rats are either more susceptible to H1N1 influenza than humans, or that they were dosed very high with the virus, given their mortality rate! I do believe if multiple acupuncture points were used, the results in the rat study would have been even more remarkable.
To learn more about the studies, click here.