Acupuncture Can Be Used as an Adjunct Therapy for COPD

COPD or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease is a very dangerous condition that can lead to death. In the United States, this disease ranks as the third largest disease killer just behind cardiovascular disease and cancer. This disease progressively worsens over the course of time and sadly, Western medicine has no cure for it.

Physicians often recommend to COPD patients to quit smoking and prescribe medications such as inhaler drugs. These drugs, however, come with adverse side effects. Other treatment options may include portable oxygen bottles to assist in breathing. Western medicine is more interested in managing the disease, not curing it. A more radical treatment for COPD is lung transplant.

Smokers are the people most affected by COPD. Also, people who are constantly respiring asbestos filaments or chemical pollutants can also develop COPD conditions, permanent lung damage or even lung cancer.

Chronic bronchitis and emphysema some of the examples of COPD; asthma, however, is not considered a COPD condition. Asthma is an autoimmune condition that usually affects children who suffer from allergies. It is a more manageable health issue than COPD. There are children whose asthma is mostly psychosomatic in origin and they tend to outgrow the disease later on in life. COPD, on the other hand, usually affects adults and is not considered an autoimmune condition. As mentioned a while ago, this disease worsens with age.

Wheezing and dsypnea (shortness of breath) are typical symptoms of these lung conditions. COPD patients tend to have a productive cough (coughing that produces phlegm) while asthmatics have dry unproductive coughs. For the shared symptoms of these two conditions, there is a crossover of toxic drugs that can be prescribed although not all of these drugs are interchangeable.

COPD patients often need to use oxygen bottles to assist them with their breathing. Asthmatics, on the other hand, have no such need. Moreover, asthma has a much lower mortality rate than COPD.

During an asthma attack, asthma sufferers tend to have constricted bronchial tubes although they are not chronic in nature. COPD patients who have chronic bronchitis have respiratory tracts that are thicker than normal; the lung passageways of COPD patients suffering from emphysema have no more elasticity. The symptoms of COPD are chronic and may be experienced in varying degrees of severity from day to day.

A double-blind placebo trial study performed by the Kyoto University Graduate School of Medicine in Japan involved 68 subjects all suffering from COPD. All of them were currently on medications. They were divided in two groups. One group was given acupuncture while the other group was treated with placebo/sham acupuncture.

Both groups were administered their respective treatments for three months one treatment each week. Prior to the beginning of the study and at the end of the three month trial period, all the subjects were tested for DOE (dyspenia on exertion) after doing a six-minute walk. A Borg scale was used to measure the perceived intensity of exertion on the walk.

The Borg scores suggested that the group given acupuncture treatment registered higher scores, which meant they were able to tolerate and exert more exercise, while manifesting a lower shortness of breath after the walk compared to the group given placebo/sham acupuncture.

The researchers concluded that acupuncture can be a good complementary treatment for the relief of dyspnea along with Western medical therapies.


The aforementioned test just showed acupuncture’s efficacy for treating COPD conditions. The test did not even include herbal medicine that acupuncturists and traditional Chinese medicine practitioners use along with acupuncture to deal with COPD and other health conditions.

Certain nutritional supplements have also shown to be effective remedies for inflammation and hardened tissues.

Emily Farish is a licensed acupuncturist in Spokane, WA, practicing acupuncture, Chinese herbal medicine and Western medical pathology. She is also the founder of Emily Farish Acupuncture.