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Research: Respiratory disorders





Common Cold (Acupuncture)

Preventive and curative effects of acupuncture on the common cold

The purpose of this study was to determine the preventive and curative effects of acupuncture on the symptoms of the common cold. Staff and students of five Japanese acupuncture schools (326 people), were randomly placed in two groups: an acupuncture group and a no-treatment control group. A certain point on the neck was needled bilaterally, gently for 15 seconds until the de qi sensation was obtained. Treatments were performed four times during the 2-week experimental period with a 2-week follow-up period. A common cold diary was scored daily for 4 weeks, and a common cold questionnaire was scored before each acupuncture treatment and twice at weekly intervals. A reliability test for the questionnaire was performed on the last day of recording.

The diary score in the acupuncture group tended to decrease after treatment, but the difference between groups was not significant. Statistically significantly fewer symptoms were reported in the questionnaire by the acupuncture group than control group. No severe adverse event was reported. A significantly positive effect of acupuncture was demonstrated in the summed questionnaire data, although a highly significant inter-centre difference was observed. Needling on the neck using the Japanese fine needle manipulating technique was shown to be effective and safe. It was concluded that using acupuncture for symptoms of the common cold symptoms should be considered, although further evidence from placebo controlled RCTs is required.

Kawakita K, et al Japan Acupuncture and Moxibustion Center, 3-44-14 Minami otsuka, Toshima-ku, Tokyo 170-0005, Japan.

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Asthma (Acupuncture)

The wheeze of asthma is caused by contraction of the muscular walls of the small breathing tubes in the lung. The narrowed air tube creates a 'turbulent' air flow and therefore causes a wheeze, or whistle, when the asthmatic breathes. Because the tubes into the lung are narrowed, less air can get in and this decreases the oxygen supply to the body. The muscular contraction of the breathing tubes can be stimulated by a wide range of substances such as inhaled dust or pollen, and various foods.

Acupuncture causes the contracted muscular walls to dilate; the mechanism of this is unknown, but there is good Western research data to support this claim. A recent Chinese clinical trial on asthma showed that some 70 per cent of asthmatics gained a 'good effect' from a course of acupuncture and moxibustion (about ten treatments) once a year. The acupuncture treatment was able to decrease the frequency and intensity of asthmatic attacks over a period of a year. This result is encouraging as it shows that acupuncture and moxibustion can affect the response of the body to the environmental stimuli causing asthmatic attacks.

FDA, asthma and acupuncture

An article in the American Medical Association Newspaper 3/6/95 from the Associated Press reported that the FDA is weighing acupuncture's effectiveness in the treatment of asthma. Kim Jobst, M.D. of Oxford University wrote in an article for the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine that the use of Acupuncture as an aid in respiratory ailments might be safer than the prolonged use of drugs. The article reports that at the request of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Jobst collected all the research on chronic lung diseases treated by acupuncture. From 16 studies, many of which were flawed, he says that acupuncture showed signs of being effective in 62% of cases. This means fewer attacks and fewer doses of drugs.

Acupuncture was used in a control against "Sham" acupuncture which means needling points which are not classical acupuncture points. There is disagreement if this is really non-effectual. When Dr. Jobst re-evaluated the "Sham" treatment he says 80% of the research shows acupuncture may work. The NIH has reportedly began funding $2.5 Million in acupuncture research. The FDA has Dr. Jobst's research and was used in the forum on needle approval this summer.

Acupuncture in bronchial asthma

Abstract: By now, there is adequate clinical experience of treating bronchial asthma with acupuncture. It has a limited role in treating acute attacks since it is a weak bronchodilator, but it has an excellent prophylactic effect in the long run.

Controlled trials have shown that acupuncture causes modest improvement in objective parameters, with significant subjective improvement. However, in all these trials there is a large degree of variation in the technique and methodology used.

It is expected that with standardization of the technique as per the guidelines given, future trials will be able to quantify the efficacy of acupuncture in bronchial asthma. In addition, investigation of the mechanism by which acupuncture works may lead to better understanding of the pathophysiology of asthma.

By Joshi YM. Journal of the Association of Physicians of India, 1992 May, 40(5):327-31. (UI: 93131806)
Pub type: Journal Article; Review; Review, Tutorial. AT: UCLA Biomed W1 AS768
(PE title: The Journal of the Association of Physicians of India.)

Acupuncture therapy in the treatment of patients with bronchial asthma

Abstract: Erythron membrane impairment was investigated using membrane active drugs (obsidan, delagil, morphium, ethanol) to specify indications to acupuncture in bronchial asthma (BA).
The patients were studied during the treatment and followed up for a year. It was found that both immediate and long-term results of acupuncture were related to patterns of the membrane - impairment. BA patients with a sharp, greater than 1.5 fold diminution of microcyte count upon delagil test should be assigned to repeated courses of acupuncture during a year.

To monitor the treatment effect, it is recommended to define osmotic resistance of the red blood cells in obsidan test in addition to clinicofunctional indices.

By Aleksandrova RA, et al Klinicheskaia Meditsina, 1991 Mar, 69(3):69-72. Language: Russian. (UI: 91295625) AT: UCLA siomed W1 KL415 SRLF W1 KL415 (PE title: Klinicheskaia meditsina.)

Beneficial effect of acupuncture on adult patients with asthma bronchiale

Abstract: In a retrospective study 17 patients with long-standing history of asthma bronchiale were treated with acupuncture at the outpatient unit of the Department of Anaesthesia and Intensive Care in the University Hospital of Vienna.

The subjective effectiveness of the treatment was determined using a standard questionnaire, which was sent to the patients' homes half a year after starting acupuncture treatment. Over 70% of our patients reported a significant improvement of their ailments after ten weeks of treatment as well as half a year after starting acupuncture.

By Zwolfer W, et al. 1(2):113-7. (UI: 94056262) AT: UCLA Biomed W1 AM4737 (PE title: The American journal of Chinese medicine.)

Immediate antiasthmatic effect of acupuncture in 192 cases of bronchial asthma

Abstract: 192 cases of bronchial asthma were treated by acupuncture on Kongzui (Lu 6) and Yuji (Lu 10) with an immediate total effective rate of 98.9P, and the rate of clinical remission plus marked improvement was 76.5%.

The efficacy for patients of varying ages and varying duration of the disease was not significantly different. Effects for asthma of the cold type according to TCM and of the allergic type according to western medicine were the most remarkable; and cases that responded to the treatment the most promptly would have better long-term curative efficacy, which was also associated with the length of needle retention.
The author deemed that 40 minutes of needle retention after the treatment took effect was desirable. This modality for treatment of bronchial asthma was very satisfactory, particularly useful for cases with history of drug allergy.

By Zang J.  Journal of Traditional Chinese Medicine, 1990 Jun, 10(2):89-93. (UI: 90362906)
AT: UCLA siomed W1 J0922R (PE title: Journal of traditional Chinese medicine = Chung i tsa chih / sponsored by A11-China Association of Traditional Chinese Medicine, Academy of Traditional Chinese Medicine.)

An overview of two complementary treatments for chronic asthma: acupuncture and homeopathy

Acupuncture and homeopathy are commonly used complementary treatments for chronic asthma. This review summarizes two recently updated Cochrane systematic reviews that assess the safety and efficacy of homeopathy or acupuncture in individuals with chronic stable asthma. Researchers only included randomized controlled trials and undertook statistical aggregation of the data where possible. Searches for both reviews were done with the assistance of the Cochrane Airways Group, and through electronic alerts. In the acupuncture review, 11 studies with 324 participants met the inclusion criteria. Trial reporting was poor and the trial quality was deemed inadequate to generalize the findings.

There was variation in the type of active and sham acupunctures, the outcomes assessed, and the time points measured. The points used in the sham arm of some studies are used for the treatment of asthma according to traditional Chinese medicine. Two studies used individualized treatment strategies, and one study used a combination strategy of formula acupuncture with the addition of individualized points. No statistically significant or clinically relevant effects were found for acupuncture compared with sham acupuncture. When data from two small studies were pooled, no difference in lung function was observed (post-treatment FEV1): standardized mean difference 0.12, 95% confidence interval 0.31 to 0.55).

Researchers concluded there is not enough evidence to recommend the use of acupuncture in the treatment of asthma. Further research needs to be undertaken, and this should take into account the different types of acupuncture practiced.

McCarney RW, et al. Department of Psychological Medicine, Imperial College, Room 4.06, Paterson Centre, 20 South Wharf Road, London W2 1PD, UK. r.mccarney@imperial.ac.uk

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Obstructive Chronic Lung Disease (Acupuncture)

Effect of laser acupuncture on the pulmonary vascular resistance in patients with obstructive chronic lung diseases

Abstract: Clinical pattern of the disease, systolic pressure in the pulmonary artery, external respiration, central hemodynamics were assessed in 111 patients (50 with chronic obstructive bronchitis and 61 with bronchial asthma) to study the effect of laser puncture. The treatment course consisted of 10 sessions performed with application of Uzor apparatus in pulse regimen with 890 nm wave length, 1500 Hz frequency and 2 mw mean radiation rate.

The results indicate a positive response to infra-red laser acupuncture evident from improved bronchial patency, enhanced bronchial sensitivity to sympathomimetics, reduced systolic pressure in the pulmonary artery. The promise of the laser puncture is attributed to its separate broncholytic effect and the ability to lower pulmonary vascular resistance.

By Zamotaev IP; Mamontova LI; Zavolovskaia LI; Rudakova OM. [Effect of laser acupuncture on the pulmonary vascular resistance in Patients with obstructive chronic lung diseases] Klinicheskaia Meditsina, 1991 May, 69(5):68-71. Language: Russian. (UI: 91311957) AT: UCLA Biomed W1 KL415 SRLF W1 KL415 (PE title: Klinicheskaia meditsina)

A case of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) successfully treated by acupuncture


The Gifu University Hospital reported a COPD patient whose respiratory symptoms were improved by acupuncture. A 66-year-old man visited the hospital with symptoms of breathlessness with exercise. In spite of medication, his general condition worsened. Subsequently, a series of acupuncture treatments was started on October 27, 2001. He had level III breathlessness on JRS classification prior to acupuncture treatment. The basic acupuncture points used were KI 3 (Fuliu), LU 9 (Taiyuan), LU 1 (Zhongfu), CV 12 (Zhongwan), CV 4 (Guanyuan), BL 13 (Feishu), and BL 23 (Shenshu). The needles were retained for ten minutes for each session. This research design was used to detect the specific efficacy of acupuncture treatment after ten acupuncture treatments over two months, his walking distance, Borg scale and respiratory function were improved compared with before treatment. These findings suggest that acupuncture treatment may be efficacious for advanced cases of COPD.

Suzuki M, et al. Department of Oriental Medicine, Gifu University of Medicine.

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Bronchitis (Acupuncture)

Bronchitis is a common lung disease, aggravated by cigarette smoke, industrial pollutants, and dust. It involves the irreparable destruction of lung tissue. There is often an asthmatic element in bronchitis as irritants such as smoke and dust cause the muscular walls of the breathing tubes to contract.
Acupuncture cannot rebuild lung tissue, but by opening up the breathing tubes it can allow the remaining lung tissue to function efficiently. The mechanism of acupuncture in bronchitis is probably much the same as in asthma, allowing more air to enter the lungs. Recent Chinese work has shown that about 50 per cent of bronchitics 'benefit' from acupuncture. The treatment must be repeated regularly if the effect is to be maintained.

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