Acupuncture Improves Lung Function and Overall Health in COPD
Sixty-eight of 111 patients from the Kansai region of Japan who were diagnosed as having COPD and were receiving standard medication participated in a randomized, parallel-group, placebo-controlled trial. COPD is considered a non-reversible condition that can severely reduce lung function. It is predicted to be the third leading cause of death worldwide by 2020.
In both groups patients were treated with real or placebo needling at the same acupoints once a week for 12 weeks.The placebo needling involved an apparatus that looked like a real acupuncture needle but only pressed the skin surface.
The primary end point, or study result was the modified Borg scale score evaluated immediately after the 6-minute walk test. This is a scale used to evaluate shortness of breath after exertion.
After 12 weeks, the Borg scale score after the 6-minute walk test was significantly better in the real acupuncture group compared with the placebo acupuncture group. Also improvements in nutritional status, body mass and over-all quality of life was seen in the acupuncture group.
We demonstrated clinically relevant improvements in DOE (Borg scale), nutrition status (including BMI), airflow obstruction, exercise capacity, and health-related quality of life after 3 months of acupuncture treatment
In clinical practice I have often seen improved breathing and voice strength following acupuncture treatment even when the lungs or chest was not the primary focus of treatment. Acupuncture can be a valuable adjunctive treatment for chronic asthma and I have seen it to be of considerable help with breathlessness in people with a cancer diagnosis. Improved wellbeing and functionality is another non-specific outcome often seen following a course of acupuncture.
Thomas J Martin LAc.