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Study Reveals Acupuncture’s Benefits in the Treatment of COPD

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A recent small-scale trial reveals that acupuncture can bring substantial benefits to people suffering from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Acupuncture is considered a complementary treatment that may be able alleviate breathing difficulty after exertion, which plagues many sufferers of COPD, which actually is a broad classification for a set of lung conditions that block airflow.

Gearge T. Lewith, author of an editorial of the new study featured in the Archives of Internal Medicine says “COPD is a disease related to old age. There are no really reliable conventional treatments for it.” He added “The acupuncture’s effect in this study resulted in people feeling very, very much better.”

To measure acupuncture’s effect on COPD symptoms, Japanese researchers enlisted 68 adults suffering from the disease and divided them into two groups — one half was given placebo acupuncture in which blunt needles were used that were not able to puncture the skin and the other half received real acupuncture. Both groups were treated with their respective therapies for 12 weeks. All subjects continued taking whatever drugs they have been prescribed by their doctors.

During walking tests that monitored patients for labored breathing, the researchers saw that the people in the real acupuncture group were far less breathless than those in the group given placebo treatment.

Co-author of the study, Masao Suzuki of the Kyoto University states “The muscles supporting thoracic motion during breathing are significantly fatigued in COPD patients.” Mr. Suzuki theorized about the possible underlying mechanisms. He added that “Acupuncture helps these muscles relax resulting in the recovery of the functionality of those muscles to support better breathing”.

Despite the new study’s promising results, experts argue that continued research is still needed. The study had a small sample size and the outcomes need to be verified through more research. The authors of the study also stated that even though the subjects in the study were masked, the acupuncture practitioners weren’t and “this can affect the outcomes based on their attitudes.” Lewith said “COPD is a very difficult disease to address and manage and this outcome appears a lot as a breakthrough, but one should never modify the plan of treatment on the basis of one study”.

According to the Mayo Clinic, bronchodilators are able to provide immediate relief to symptoms such as shortness of breath and as such are considered “mainstays” of medication treatment for COPD.

The main risk factors for COPD are outdoor and indoor air pollution and smoking according to the World Health Organization. Their studies show that 65 million people suffer from moderate to severe COPD and by the next decade, total deaths are expected to rise by more than 30 percent.

Jamie Catlett is an acupuncturist in Jacksonville, FL and the founder of Jacksonville Acupuncture Clinic.

Written by Valerie

May 16th, 2017 at 12:20 pm