Acupuncture can be used as an Adjunct Treatment for COPD Symptoms

Cases of COPD or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease have risen these past years causing it to be presently the third largest cause of deaths in the United States behind cardiovascular disease and cancer. There is no cure for this disease.

Physicians often advise their COPD patients to refrain from smoking and provide portable oxygen tanks for them to breathe well or pharmaceutical inhaler medications for their symptoms. The goal of western medicine is to manage the symptoms of this disease instead of curing it. For really severe cases of COPD, a lung transplant surgery is usually performed.

The people most affected by COPD are smokers, most especially chronic smokers. There also COPD sufferers who got the disease from constant exposure to toxic air (asbestos filaments, chemical pollutants, etc.).

Some of the conditions associated with COPD include chronic bronchitis and emphysema. Asthma is not considered a type of COPD. Asthma often develops in young kids suffering from auto-immune allergies. It is much easier to manage than COPD and most kids outgrow this condition as they age. COPD, on the other hand, develops later in life, and it often does not need any auto-immune condition for it to occur; it gets worse as one ages.

Wheezing and dsypnea (or difficulty in breathing) are common symptoms of these lung conditions. Asthma causes drier unproductive coughs while COPD often produces phlegm during coughs. Some of the medications for asthma can be taken by COPD patients and vice versa due to some of these conditions’ shared symptoms.

Unlike COPD patients, asthma sufferers usually do not need to breathe with the help of oxygen bottles.

Asthmatics have narrower bronchial tubes during asthmatic attacks, but this problem is not encountered every day. People with COPD who also have emphysema have no more elasticity of their respiratory tract. COPD sufferers who have chronic bronchitis have airways that are thicker and intractable. The symptoms of COPD are often long-term and are experienced daily albeit in varying degrees.

Studies in Acupuncture COPD Treatment

The Department of Respiratory Medicine of the Kyoto University Graduate School of Medicine conducted a double-blind placebo trial a few years ago involving 68 individuals all suffering from COPD and who are all taking COPD medications. One half of them were given acupuncture while the other half were treated with placebo or sham acupuncture.

Both treatments were given once a week for three months. Prior and post the 12-week period, all the subjects underwent a six-minute walk to test for DOE or “dyspenia on exertion.” A Borg scale was utilized to measure the perceived intensity of exertion during the walk.

The conductors of the study found out that the group given real acupuncture had higher Borg scores. This means that people in the group were able to exert and tolerate more exercise, while at the same time having less shortness of breath or DOE compared to sham or placebo acupuncture group.

Their conclusion was that acupuncture can indeed be used as an adjunct treatment for resolving dyspnea.


There seems to be other effective and safe treatments for COPD than the ones offered by western medicine. Acupuncture along with Chinese herbal medicine has been proven to help treat certain COPD symptoms

Certain supplements have also shown a capacity to clear away hardened tissues and treat inflammation. They include a protease or a proteolytic enzyme derived from the serrapeptase silkworm. Serrapeptase can help break down proteins and lower the accumulations of mucus and inflamed scar tissues.