The Odd Benefit of Acupuncture

By: Bel Marra Health | Pain Management | Wednesday, May 23, 2012 - 01:00 AM

acupunctureAcupuncture is a treatment that began in China over 3000 years ago. The Western world has embraced it to alleviate issues associated with musculoskeletal disorders, stress, inflammation, and chronic pain. Now researchers believe they have evidence that shows acupuncture can benefit people who suffer from COPD.

Why Does COPD Need An Alternative Solution?

Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease is a debilitating, progressive disease that over time makes it very difficult to breath.  It is the third leading cause of death in the United States. Just imagine what it would feel like if the tubes carrying air out of your lungs were blocked. That is what people with COPD live with. Symptoms of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease include: chronic cough, frequent respiratory infections, and shortness of breath. It can impact every day tasks like getting dressed, taking a shower, doing housework or even taking a short walk.

COPD sufferers can be treated with a long list of medications including bronchodilators, corticoststeroids, expectorants, various inhibitors, and other medicines. However, some of these patients are looking for alternative pain relief and the latest research gives them hope.

Alternative Pain Relief, Like Acupuncture

It appears that acupuncture is able to create “homeostasis” or stability in the body. The alternative pain relief takes place due to improved circulation, as well as good blood and oxygen flow into the lungs.

Over a three year period, doctors and researchers at Kyoto University and Meiji University of Integrative Medicine in Japan conducted a study involving COPD patients and the use of acupuncture. Following 3 months of treatment they reported noticeable improvements in the patient’s airflow obstruction, exertion ability, and overall general health. The research team was particularly pleased with how acupuncture appeared to improve labored breathing in patients with chronic COPD. Many of the patients taking part in the study chose to stay on their medications during the acupuncture process. Observers say more testing needs to be conducted to see what impact acupuncture can have on those who are medication free, although both Asian and Western based medical experts have often proposed a system of integrated medicine to treat conditions like COPD. Integrated means conventional medicine, natural approaches such as nutritional supplements, and alternative pain relief like acupuncture.

Inflammation for Alternative Pain Relief

Lung specialists say that inflammation plays a big role in COPD. Patients typically show signs of inflammation in the airways, lung tissue, and pulmonary blood vessels.  The inflammation is further aggravated by the patient’s surroundings. For instance, if the person is exposed to cigarette smoke or chemicals, the inflammation can get worse. Several studies in both the United States and Asia support the theory that acupuncture benefits people who have problems with inflammation. It has been described as a complementary therapy for inflammatory bowel disease, asthma, rheumatoid arthritis, rhinitis, and vasculitis.

Numerous studies on acupuncture and pain relief are ongoing, including studies that look at the impact of the ancient Chinese technique on COPD sufferers. It is interesting to note how much attention acupuncture is getting from the medical establishment. Researchers see the promise that the treatment has; the possible applications it could have in the future. In the spring of 2011, a British study on a large group of patients with medically unexplained symptoms showed that acupuncture significantly improved their pain.


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