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Acupuncture: Another shot worth taking this flu season?

needlesThe flu shot isn’t for everyone. And we’re not talking about the inoculation’s limited availability, but rather about the practices of natural-health-leaning New Yorkers who’d prefer to prevent illness more holistically.

So we asked Noah Rubinstein (pictured below), a former professor at Pacific College of Oriental Medicine and leading practitioner of Traditional Chinese Medicine with an office in Union Square, what acupuncture can do this to keep us healthy this flu season. Do thirty little acupuncture needles equal one shot in arm?

What can acupuncture do to combat H1N1?
Some studies being done on the 1918 plague (a chemical version of which has been injected into mice) have shown that our own immune response may play a role in making us sick by attacking both the virus and the host. This is a simplified answer, but the thinking is that a well-regulated response can be as important as a strong one.

How does acupuncture help regulate the immune system’s response to a virus?
A healthy immune system is like a defending army that needs to be strong, but it must also respond to threats appropriately—it’s the difference between targeting the bad guys versus everything in sight. One thing we see with acupuncture, which works with the body’s qi or energetic system, including nerve pathways and hormonal signals, is that it boosts one’s natural defenses and plays a vital role in regulating them, so the bug is what the body targets, not you.

RubinsteinAre you a fan of all the hand-washing that’s being advocated? Yes, wash your hands often. Not like Lady MacBeth, but frequently and appropriately. And be cognizant of contact—wash after riding the subway or coming out of a meeting. Keep your hands moisturized with a non-petroleum-based lotion. This might seem irrelevant, but it’s important for the integrity of your hands to prevent dryness. Where there’s a crack in the skin, there’s an opening into your system.

What if you’re sick?
Plan ahead. Not in a hysterical way. But it eases stress to prepare, and that makes healing easier for the body. So I’d recommend to have a few organic soups and broths in the cupboard, as well as Pedialyte, which will keep you hydrated. Yes, even adults. Keep paper masks sealed in a baggie in your bag. These are to keep others away from you when you’re ill and your immunity is low. No one wants to sit next to Mask Lady on the train.

For acupuncture appointments and rates, contact Noah Rubinstein, 80 E. 11th St., at Broadway, Ste. 410; 212-387-8788 ;

Have you tried acupuncture for colds or other health reasons? Tell us, here!