Being a lung inflammation of the respiratory pathways, acute bronchitis is likely to occur right before a person has acquired a respiratory infection. Initially the sinuses, nose, and throat are affected, then the lungs become affected as well resulting in chest pain, wheezing, a productive cough, shortness of breath, fatigue, and fever. People at high risk for this condition include those who suffer from heart or lung disease, smokers, infants, young children, and the elderly. Prescription medications for wheezing or coughing, steam treatment, fluids, and rest are the conventional modes of treatment for bronchitis. Providing an effective, natural and safe complementary treatment, acupuncture is now being considered by more and more people who want a more natural approach for their condition.
For over 4,000 thousand years, acupuncture has been a primary mode of healing in China for various types of illnesses and diseases including acute bronchitis. It is a medical procedure that utilizes hair thin needles inserted at prescribed acupoints in order to treat and prevent disease, balance the body, and improve health. Acupuncturists activate these acupoints with the goal of stimulating the flow of vital energy, known as qi (pronounced chee) and transmit signals to your brain to produce and secrete chemicals and hormones that improve health and alleviate pain. It was only in the 1970s that acupuncture became a household word in the United States in spite of it being around for thousands of years.
It has been proven that acupuncture can indeed aid in the reduction of bronchitis symptoms. The 2007 September issue of the Chinese medical journal Shongguo Shen Chiu included a study that observed the short and long-term effects of acupuncture treatment in 100 patients all suffering from acute bronchitis. During the hottest times of the year, the times when acute bronchitis is at its most widespread, these patients were administered with acupuncture treatment while another batch of patients were only required to change certain aspects of their lifestyle and were not treated with acupuncture or medications. Results showed that the people who received acupuncture experienced a much superior short and long-term improvement of their condition.
Upon initial visit with your acupuncturist, he/she may need to gather more vital information about you and your condition. Therefore, expect the practitioner to ask you a series of questions regarding the kind of lifestyle you lead, your family and medical history, your symptoms and the reason why you visited him/her in the first place (i.e. your main complaint). After that, your acupuncturist will palpate your pulse and examine your tongue in order to come up with a proper traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) diagnosis. He/she will then help you relax in the best possible way before he/she starts to insert acupuncture needles into your chest, feet, hands, legs, and arms. Your acupuncturist may also add other TCM therapies such cupping therapy, gua sha, or Chinese massage to help increase the potency of the whole treatment. The needles are left in place in your body for twenty minutes to a full hour. At this moment, the treatment may induce in you a sleepy feeling causing you to fall asleep during the rest of the procedure.
If you have bronchitis of an acute nature, you should talk with your doctor first if you plan to get acupuncture treatment for the first time. Widely known as a very safe and effective type of treatment, acupuncture can still have bad side effects if the acupuncturist is unlicensed and not trained well enough. You may end up with an infection, bleeding, pain or discomfort or bruise if your acupuncturist is incompetent. To avoid this eventuality, seek recommendations from your physician or local health department in order to find a licensed and skilled acupuncturist in your area.
Christina Prieto is an Orlando acupuncturist, a certified Yoga instructor and the founder of Harmony Wellness center in central Florida.