Acupuncture Appears to Aid COPD Breathing—New Study

By AltMed1-Peggy  


We can add another benefit to the things acupuncture can do or may do to help our health. New research published online in Archives of Internal Medicine on May 14 found that acupuncture appears to help people who have Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) breathe better on exertion. 

COPD causes dyspnea (labored breathing) because it damages the lungs and clogs them with mucus,which causes symptoms such as coughing, wheezing, a feeling of tightness in the chest and shortness of breath. Exertion makes it even harder for people with COPD to get enough airflow.MC900438748[1]

No wonder it is the third leading cause of death in the USA. More than 12 million Americans have been diagnosed with this debilitating condition, according to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. And, NHLBI notes, many more may have it without having been diagnosed. Since we have not yet found a way to cure COPD or reverse the damage it cause, and there’s no known way to slow its progress, the next best option is to look for ways to ease breathing difficulties.

A randomized controlled trial by researchers from Japan’s Kyoto University and Meiji University of Integrative Medicine included 68 patients with COPD. The patients were divided into two groups (34 patients per group). For 12 weeks, in addition to being given medications and either acupuncture or placebo treatments. The acupuncture group received real acupuncture treatment with real acupuncture needles while the placebo group received the same treatment using blunt needles that did not actually penetrate the skin. When the 12 week series of treatments was completed, the patients were given a six-minute walk test while their breathing was assessed.



Breathing was rated using a Borg scale of zero to 10, with zero meaning “breathing very well, barely breathless” and 10 meaning “severely breathless,” according to a news release that explains the study in layman’s terms. The real acupuncture group showed notable improvement in breathing – from a poor Borg score of 5.5 at the start to 1.9 after 12 weeks – which also helped their health quality of life, the researchers said. The placebo group treated with blunt needles did not show improvement.

Larger studies and follow-ups will be needed to confirm the findings, the study authors say, and to show whether acupuncture can be a useful treatment for COPD.

Read the study here: A Randomized, Placebo-Controlled Trial of Acupuncture in Patients With Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD). The COPD-Acupuncture Trial.

Read a commentary about the research here:  Reevaluating Acupuncture Research Methods

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(Illustrations courtesy of Office.Microsoft.Com)

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