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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

Hsiao Chuan Herbal Paste and Vitamin D Supplementation for the Treatment of COPD

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Much of the research presented at the ATS (American Thoracic Society) done some months ago has dealt so far with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease or COPD, for short.

The most dangerous symptom of COPD is breathing difficulty which makes the disease a very serious health condition that gradually worsens over time and for which there is no known cure. Other miserable symptoms it generates include tightness in the chest, shortness of breath, wheezing, and coughing that produces huge amounts of mucus.

COPD is the 4th leading cause of death in the United States and is a major cause of disability. It is the result of chronic exposure to pollution and irritants and long-term smoking. Sufferers are unable to do the most basic tasks such as cooking and walking. As mentioned, there is no cure for COPD and, according to the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, there is still no way to restore normal function to the damaged lungs and airways caused by this disease.

However, not all the news coming out of that ATS meeting was bad. There were some bits of unexpected good news, as well.

Scientists in a couple of different studies have announced discoveries that can be of profound benefit for COPD sufferers. And Big Pharma is not involved in these treatments. They actually come from a combination of an ancient and natural treatment and vitamin D treatment.

For more than a thousand years, TCM or Traditional Chinese medicine has created a paste known as Hsiao (or Xiao) Chuan to help with asthma-related or COPD-related breathing difficulties. This paste has active ingredients only found in China. They include acorus gramineus, solandra, asarum heterothropoides, and ephedra vulgaris.

Western conventional medicine is now discovering that this herbal paste does work. Beijing researchers have proven that Hsiao Chuan can lessen the potentially dangerous winter exacerbations of COPD. In cold weather, the symptoms of COPD tend to get much worse. In fact, they can be triggered by just breathing cold air.

Clinical researcher of the respiratory department of Beijing’s Gunag’anmen Hospital, Dr. Yongjun Bian conducted observational studies of Hsiao Chuan which revealed that the paste reduced the number of COPD exacerbations; one of the those studies was the first randomized controlled trial that demonstrated the safety and efficacy of Hsiao Chuan in COPD exacerbation prevention. The results of that study confirmed the paste’s benefits in stopping the exacerbation of COPD during winter or cold weather.

The herbal paste was applied in the summer on certain acupoints located on the back for the treatment of breathing problems and exacerbating winter COPD problems. Hsiao Chuan has herbs that possess certain immune regulation properties. They have the power to inhibit COPD exacerbations, said Dr. Bian.

The study involved 142 patients who were randomized into two groups. One group was given placebo treatment while the other received Hsiao Chuan. Both treatments were administered four times into the same acpoints for a span of eight weeks (July to August).

Dr. Bian concluded that Hsiao Chuan led to a significant reduction of the frequency of winter exacerbations compared to placebo treatment that used a different herbal paste. The patients treated with Hsiao Chuan had a much improved quality of life, less incidents of shortness of breath, and less need for steroid interventions compared to the patients given placebo therapy.

The doctor added that no Western medical studies have been done on this Chinese natural therapy in spite of the fact that is has been used for thousands of years in China. The outcomes of the study helped made the use of the herb a standardized treatment protocol that can help avoid negative events in future clinical therapies.

Belgian researchers did a separate study which led to results revealing that all patients with COPD suffered from vitamin D deficiency. Providing vitamin D supplementation to them led to significant reduction of the symptoms of this breath-depriving disease.

Doctoral student and physiotherapist of the pneumology department of the Katholieke University in Leuven, Belgium, Miek Hornikx, stated that the study revealed that vitamin D supplementation in high doses combined with a traditional rehab program led to an improvement of the patients’ respiratory muscle strength and exercise capacity.

Ms. Hornikx added that low amounts of vit D in the blood commonly led to weak muscles, which can be a major cause for increased risk of falls and respiratory rehabilitation. She want to see if vitamin D supplements can help with rehabilitation among these patients, by perhaps boosting the strength of the muscles since the argument was deficiency of vitamin D may be related to the rise of COPD.

The study involved the participation of 50 patients all with COPD with a history of exacerbations and who had been recommended for rehabilitation. Each patient was randomly designated for either a placebo therapy or a with daily dose vitamin D treatment of 100,000 international units (IUs). This dose is way beyond the USDA RDA (recommended daily allowance) of 600 daily IUs.

For three months, all participants underwent a pulmonary rehabilitation program. The researchers measured vitamin D levels, exercise capacity, and respiratory and peripheral muscle strength in both at the start of the rehab and during its end.

The outcomes of the study revealed that compared to those in the placebo group, the patients who were treated with vitamin D experienced significant improvement in respiratory muscle strength and exercise capacity.

Ms. Hornikx concluded that the outcomes reinforced that belief that adding vitamin D supplements into training programs to correct vitamin D deficiency helped COPD patients to attain much better results from rehabilitation, including exercise capacity and improvements in muscle strength.

Dr. Jeda Boughton is a licensed acupuncture physician and the medical director of BodaHealth in Vancouver, BC.

Written by Valerie

November 22nd, 2016 at 10:28 am

Posted in Acupuncture

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