Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease May Benefit From… Acupuncture?

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is a condition that affects many people worldwide, and treatments for the largely smoking-related illness are somewhat scarce.

But a new study reveals that chronic obstructive pulmonary disease might be alleviated (though there is no cure) by a surprising treatment- acupuncture. Acupuncture is somewhat controversial in that while it is a low (not no, but low) risk treatment, it does carry some potential negative side effects and is considered somewhat of a new-age, complimentary therapy.

However, acupuncture’s many adherents advocate it for everything from migraines to infertility, and a new study reveals that some of that benefit may be applicable to chronic obstructive pulmonary disease as well. The small study involved 68 people, half of whom underwent real acupuncture- while the other half received “sham” acupuncture. (Fake acupuncture has been used in the past for studies relating to acupuncture’s effect on migraine headaches.)

In the study, the needles were inserted into the skin of the chronic obstructive pulmonary disease sufferers, while those who underwent the fake acupuncture were not actually pricked with the needles. Both groups continued to receive their daily medication for COPD. The former group reported some increased lung function, such as when exercising, compared to the ones who did not receive actual acupuncture treatment.

migraines and acupuncture

Dr. Tong-Joo Gan spoke to WebMD about the results of the study and acupuncture’s potential benefits to sufferers of chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder. He says:

“Clearly it looks like a viable alternative to treat chronic COPD. The downside is so little and the upside is so huge that acupuncture is well worth a try for those who find it difficult to control their COPD despite medications.”

The study of the effects of acupuncture on chronic obstructive pulmonary disease was published in the Archives of Internal Medicine.