Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) is an umbrella term used to describe progressive lung diseases including emphysema, chronic bronchitis, and refractory (non-reversible) asthma. This disease is characterized by increasing breathlessness (COPD Foundation). Even though COPD is a progressive and (currently) incurable disease, an integrative treatment including conventional and complementary approaches can well delay or even stabilize the progression and improve the quality of life. Acupuncture is getting more and more popular in the treatment of COPD.

A research team from the No. 3 Affiliated Hospital of Chengdu University of Traditional Chinese Medicines carried out a randomized, open-controlled trial. One-hundred-and-two patients with stable COPD with the pattern of Lung Spleen Qi Deficiency (ICD11-SF7L) were randomly divided into two groups in a 1∶1 ratio. The acupuncture group received 30-minute sessions of acupuncture therapy at the same acupoints three times weekly for 6 weeks in addition to routine conventional Western Medicine treatment.

Points used in the trail: ST36, BL20), BL13, Dingchuan (EX- B1).

After 6 weeks of treatment, the Borg scale score in the acupuncture group was significantly better than that in the control group (2.02 ± 0.71 versus 5.01 ± 0.34, P < 0.05). Furthermore, the post-treatment improvements in the 6-minute walk distance, lung function, and oxygen saturation were significantly greater in the acupuncture group than in the control group, showing that the acupuncture group had better exercise tolerance. Based on above findings, acupuncture that aims to reinforce the spleen to strengthen the lung is a safe and effective adjuvant therapy that effectively improves the exercise capacity of patients with stable COPD.

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Cite: Li Y, Xiong C, Zheng Y, et al. Acupuncture treatment of lung-spleen Qi deficiency in stable chronic obstructive pulmonary disease: a randomized, open-label, controlled trial. J Tradit Chin Med, 2019, 39(6):885-891.