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Acupuncture Found Effective For Bronchitis Relief

Researchers find acupuncture effective for the treatment of chronic bronchitis. Shijiazhuang Hospital of Traditional Chinese Medicine researchers determined that acupuncture increases immunoglobulin production and stabilizes overall health for elderly patients suffering from chronic bronchitis. Immunoglobulins function as antibodies, which are immune system proteins in the blood that counteract antigens (e.g., viruses, bacteria, toxins, foreign substances). The researchers subjectively and objectively determined that a specific combination of acupuncture points alleviates chronic bronchitis. The acupuncture point prescription employed in the study relieves symptoms and clinical improvements are quantifiable with blood assays.

Liang et al. (Shijiazhuang Hospital of Traditional Chinese Medicine) conducted a protocolized investigation on the clinical efficacy of Feishu (BL13) and Sihua (Four Flower) acupuncture for elderly patients with chronic bronchitis. Sihua (four flower) acupuncture refers to the application of acupoints Geshu (BL17) and Danshu (BL19) during an acupuncture session. Liang et al. determined that acupuncture enhanced immunoglobulin levels while simultaneously providing significant clinical improvements.

The researchers chose three classic acupuncture points used for the treatment of respiratory disorders. All three are Beishu (Back Shu) acupuncture points. BL13 is the back shu point of the lungs and is indicated for the treatment of bronchitis. In many ways, the modern research at the Shijiazhuang Hospital of Traditional Chinese Medicine is a continuing acupuncture education investigation building on Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) classics.

The term Four Flowers, referring to the combination of acupoints BL17 and BL19, was used by Gao Wu in the 13th century work, The Classic of Supplementing Life with Acupuncture and Moxibustion. This study refers to this Four Flower combination and not the earlier Master Cui combination of BL43 (Gaohuangshu), Yaoyan, Zhoujian, Qizhumanxue, and Sanjiaojiu. Yang Jizhou (1522–1620), author of Zhengjiu Dacheng (The Great Success of Acupuncture and Moxibustion), wrote that the Four Flowers combination of BL17 and BL19 treats coughing. He noted several other uses including the treatment of qi and blood deficiency, intractable diseases, emaciation, tidal fever, and steaming bone syndrome.

BL17 is the diaphragm back shu point and the hui-meeting point of the blood. Its traditional uses include the treatment of coughing with blood. BL19 is the back shu point of the gallbladder and is indicated for clearing pathogenic factors from the shaoyang channel.

The study compared patients taking conventional medications in two groups. Group 1 received drug therapy plus acupuncture and group 2 received drug therapy and an herbal cough syrup. Chronic bronchitis patients who received acupuncture therapy showed higher levels of IgA, IgM and IgG after treatment compared with patients who ingested the herbal cough syrup.

Before treatment, IgA, , and IgG levels of acupuncture patients were 1.82 (± 0.19) g/L, 1.59 (± 0.18) g/L and 10.65 (± 0.36) g/L respectively. The corresponding values for cough syrup patients were 1.56 (± 0.67) g/L, 1.58 (± 0.19) g/L, and 10.67 (± 0.38) g/L. After treatment, acupuncture patients showed increased IgA, IgM, and IgG levels of 2.11 (± 0.06) g/L, 1.89 (± 0.21) g/L, and 12.23 (± 0.15) g/L respectively. After treatment with cough syrup, patients showed increased IgA, IgM, and IgG levels of 0.93 (± 0.41) g/L, 1.62 (± 0.22) g/L, and 10.74 (± 0.38) g/L respectively.

A total of 60 Shijiazhuang Hospital of Traditional Chinese Medicine patients with a mean age of 68 years with chronic bronchitis were treated and evaluated in the study. These patients were diagnosed with chronic bronchitis between April 2012 and December 2012. They were divided into the acupuncture treatment group and the herbal cough syrup control group, with 30 patients in each group. Both groups received identical drug therapy. The primary acupoints selected for the acupuncture treatment group were the following:

  • Feishu (BL13)

  • Geshu (BL17)

  • Danshu (BL19)

Upon disinfection, a 0.30 mm x 40 mm filiform acupuncture needle was inserted into each acupoint and manipulated with mild reinforcing and attenuating (Ping Bu Ping Xie) techniques. Thereafter, the needles were retained in position for 20 minutes. One 20 minute acupuncture session was conducted daily, for a total of one month. For the herbal cough syrup control group, the Chinese herbal cough syrup Nin Jiom Mi Lian Chuan Bei Pi Pa Gao was administered. Patients ingested 10 ml of cough syrup each time, thrice per day, for a total of one month.

Drug therapy for both groups was identical. All patients received ambroxol, aminophylline, and cefuroxime. Ambroxol is mucolytic and is an expectorant. Aminophylline is a xanthine derivative that relaxes smooth muscles surrounding bronchial tubes, thereby easing breathing. Cefuroxime is an antibiotic.

The researchers compared results. Acupuncture significantly produced greater positive patient outcomes than the herbal cough syrup. Patients consistently had less symptoms and blood assays demonstrated enhanced immunological responses to therapy. The researchers conclude that acupuncture is safe and effective for the treatment of chronic bronchitis in the elderly as part of a comprehensive treatment protocol.

Li and Shi had similar results in their investigation. Li and Shi tested the efficacy of acupuncture compared with methoxyphenamine, a β-sympathomimetic bronchodilator. Acupuncture produced a 90% total treatment effective rate and drug therapy produced an 80% total treatment effective rate. The researchers concluded that acupuncture is more effective for the treatment of post-infectious chronic coughing than methoxyphenamine.

A total of 90 patients were randomly divided into the 3 groups. Treatment group 1 received acupuncture on both lung-taiyin and stomach-yangming acupoints. Treatment group 2 received acupuncture on lung-taiyin acupoints and treatment group 3 received drug therapy. The group treated with lung-taiyin and stomach-yangming channel acupoints had a 90% total effective rate. Using only lung-taiyin acupoints produced an 83.3% total effective rate. Drug therapy produced an 80% total effective rate. The primary acupoints selected for treatment group 1 were the following:

  • Yuji (LU10)

  • Chize (LU5)

  • Kongzui (LU6)

  • Lieque (LU7)

  • Tianshu (ST25)

  • Zusanli (ST36)

  • Fenglong (ST40)

The Ping Bu Ping Xie manipulation technique was applied to the acupoints. Upon arrival of a deqi sensation, the needle retention time was 30 minutes. One 30 minute acupuncture treatment was conducted daily. The entire course of acupuncture treatments consisted of 10 sessions. The acupuncture points for treatment group 2 were the following:

  • Yuji (LU10)

  • Xiabai (LU4)

  • Zhongfu (LU1)

  • Chize (LU5)

  • Kongzui (LU6)

  • Lieque (LU7)

Methoxyphenamine capsules for treatment group 3 were taken orally, 3 times per day, 2 capsules each time, for a total of 10 consecutive days. Cough symptoms were scored before and after treatments. The researchers concluded that acupuncture is more effective for the treatment of post-infectious chronic coughing than methoxyphenamine. In addition, the combination of lung and stomach channel acupuncture points produces greater positive patient outcomes than using only lung channel acupoints.

References: Liang Y, Li C, Zhou W, Hu YH, Hu GQ & Jia CS. (2014). Effects of Acupuncture on Feishu (NT 13) and‘Four-flower’Points on Immunoglobulins of the Elderly Patients with Chronic Bronchitis in Lag Phase. Shanghai Journal of Acupuncture-Moxibustion. 33(1).

Wang LL. (2012). Clinical immunology and immunity examination. Beijing: People's Health Publishing House. 228-229.

Li XQ, Shi ZM. (2015). Acupuncture Treatment Based on Lung-stomach Theory in Treating Post-infectious Cough. Shanghai Journal of Acupuncture and Moxibustion. 34(3).

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