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Acupuncture can do more than just relieve pain: It also improves quality of life

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is a disease caused by inflammation of the lining of the bronchial tubes, which let air in and out of the lungs. This inflammation obstructs airflow from the organ, causing a variety of symptoms, such as cough, mucus production, wheezing and difficulty breathing. These symptoms all lead to poor health-related quality of life (HRQL) and exercise capacity.

But in a recent study published in the journal Complementary Therapies in Clinical Practice, researchers from Taiwan found that body acupuncture therapy (BAT) can help improve the HRQL of patients with COPD. Acupuncture is an ancient Chinese healing art often used to relieve discomfort associated with a variety of health problems and medical treatments, such as low back pain, migraine, osteoarthritis and cancer therapy.

Acupuncture therapy can improve the quality of life of people with COPD

COPD, a disease that results from long-term exposure to irritating gases or particulate matter, such as from cigarette smoke, is highly prevalent around the world. According to the World Health Organization, COPD is estimated to become the third leading cause of death worldwide by 2030.

People who suffer from COPD are known to have poor HRQL, even when they are treated with conventional medications. Hence, researchers are still looking for potential treatments, be it alternative or complementary, that would allow COPD sufferers to live better lives.

BAT is a popular non-invasive therapy that has gained traction in recent years. This traditional Chinese medicinal practice is often used to relieve the symptoms of various diseases, especially those that cause pain.

To determine if BAT can help people with COPD, the researchers searched eight electronic databases for randomized controlled trials (RCTs) that evaluated the effects of BAT, medication and pulmonary rehabilitation on symptoms of COPD. They considered HRQL as the primary outcome, which was evaluated using St. George’s respiratory questionnaire or COPD assessment test (CAT).

The researchers found 12 studies that met their criteria. These RCTs involved a total of 798 participants with COPD. Analysis of the data presented in the studies indicated a significant improvement that favored the combination of BAT and medications over the use of medication alone in terms of CAT scores.

Based on the results of their evaluation, the researchers concluded that BAT is an effective adjunct treatment that improves the HRQL of COPD patients who are under medical treatment. (Related: Raspberries: A potential treatment for COPD?)

Other natural remedies for COPD

COPD is a serious lung disease that affects day-to-day activities and can lead to severe complications, such as heart problems, respiratory infections and lung cancer. In developed countries, the number one cause of COPD is cigarette smoking. Hence quitting smoking and/or avoiding secondhand smoke are highly recommended measures to take to avoid developing this disease. But for those with COPD, there are natural remedies that can help manage its symptoms and slow its progression. Here are some of them: (h/t to

  • Improve the quality of air in your home (e.g., install air filtration systems, avoid household chemicals)
  • Practice breathing exercises
  • Manage your stress levels naturally (e.g., mindfulness meditation)
  • Maintain a healthy weight by eating a balanced diet and exercising regularly
  • Develop muscle strength through strength training to improve lung function
  • Try water-based exercises to increase your exercise capacity and improve quality of life
  • Take nutritional supplements (e.g., vitamin D, creatine, co-enzyme Q10)
  • Use essential oils that can open up the airways and clear mucus from the lungs (e.g., eucalyptus oil)

COPD can significantly decrease your quality of life. But with proper management, you can keep its symptoms under control and reduce your risk of developing complications. Follow the tips above or try acupuncture to improve your HRQL if you’re suffering from COPD.

Sources include: 1 2

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