Acupuncture to Improve Condition of Patients with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)

By Sharon Moore on May 15, 2012

Acupuncture, one of the popular traditional Chinese therapies has been scientifically proven to improve health and wellbeing in so many ways. Just recently, another scientific research revealed that acupuncture can be used to improve the condition of people with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Said therapy is claimed to help manage the disease by alleviating dyspnoea, a symptom characterised by laboured breathing.

Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)

According to the NHS, around 835,000 people are diagnosed with COPD in the UK but is estimated that there are over 2 million out there living with the disease who haven’t been diagnosed yet. One reason for this is that many people misidentify the early symptoms of COPD to be something not serious, like the smoker’s cough.

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) refers to a number of lung diseases which include emphysema, bronchitis, and other types of chronic airway problems. People with COPD usually suffer from airflow obstruction which results to difficulty in breathing. The causes vary but usually, COPD is linked to smoking.

Managing COPD through Acupuncture

The researchers predicted that COPD will become the third leading causes of death by 2020. At this moment, there is no precise form of treatment for COPD. All medical approaches to this disease are only focused on relieving or alleviating the symptoms and not the condition itself. For instance, patients are advised to use inhalers when they’re having difficulty breathing.

The study, headed by Dr Masao Suzuki from the Kyoto University and Meiji University of Integrative Medicine tried to investigate whether acupuncture can be used in the management of COPD through a randomised control trial involving 68 patients. Half of the participants went through real acupuncture therapy for 12 weeks while taking daily medications. Meanwhile, the other half went through a placebo acupuncture wherein blunt needles were used so it would appear that they had acupuncture but no actual piercing of needles took place.

The trial lasted for 3 years. During the evaluation, the researchers adopted several tests to assess the effects of acupuncture in patients (if there were). For instance, they used the Borg scale which measures the level of relief from airway obstruction the patients experienced after going through a 6-minute walking test.

The results were impressing. Researchers found that patients who undergone real acupuncture demonstrated significant improvement in dyspnoea, exercise capacity, and health-related quality of life. On the other hand, there is no improvement shown in the placebo group.

But because of the size of their study, the researchers warned that more randomised trials and bigger studies must be made to support their findings. However, they pointed out that acupuncture can have a potential role in the management of COPD.

The study was published online first by Archives of Internal Medicine, a JAMA Network publication.

 

Source of this article:

A Randomized, Placebo-Controlled Trial of Acupuncture in Patients With Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), By Archives of Internal Medicine

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