The lung has about 300 million alveoli. Alveoli are small sacks that extract the oxygen from the air which then is infused into the blood. As oxygen is integrated into a cell, the cell releases carbon dioxide at the same time which then goes to the alveoli to be released out of the body through the process of exhalation.
The alveoli can be damaged by tobacco smoking and when they’re damaged their ability to stretch open becomes limited. The body then will have difficulty to optimally take in oxygen leading to shortness of breath. Apart from the alveoli, smoking can also harm the tiny cells known as cilia. These are the cells that move phlegm up and out of our lungs. Cilia damage can cause toxins, dirt, and germs to accumulate and stagnate in the lungs, causing conditions such as COPD, lung cancer, chest infections, and chronic coughing.
Western Conventional Treatment for COPD
If you have been diagnosed with COPD, the most import thing to do is eliminate the factors that led to the rise of the condition. You need to therefore avoid being exposed to irritants and toxic substances such as fumes and dust,. You also need to stop smoking, and avoid second hand smoke.
Chinese Herbal Treatment for COPD
Having a highly successful history of treating COPD, Chinese herbal medicine can be used to treat shortness of breath, cough, wheezing, and lessen phlegm congestion in the lungs. Some Chinese herbs can increase the lung’s ability to take in more oxygen, boost immunity, and treat inflammation.
This herb is derived from a mushroom and has several applications that can improve lung function. Cordyceps traditionally comes in the form of a tonic meant to improve sleep quality, endurance, libido, stamina, appetite, and energy. This herb has attracted a lot of interest after the 1993 Beijing Summer games when marathon runners from China were suspected using drugs due to the incredible fast times they were registering in finishing this grueling race. The drug tests all turned out negative. The coach of the runners confessed that they had been using the Cordyceps Sinensis herb in preparation for the marathon.
Some effective Chinese herbs used by TCM practitioners for the treatment of COPD include:
Gan cao – an herb that lessens inflammation, halts cough, and moistens the lungs
Sang bai pi – relieves wheezing and halts cough
Wu wei zi – calms the body and stops cough
Zhe bei mu- lessens the production of phlegm in the body
Ju hong – clears phlegm
Jie geng – lessens phlegm and opens the airways in the lungs
Luo han guo- reduces inflammation and moistens the lungs
Zhi zi – reduces toxicity and strengthens the immune system
Huang qin – lessens phlegm and beefs up the immune system
Tian men dong – moistens the lungs and reduces lung inflammation
Fu ling – reduces the production of phlegm
Mai men dong – reduces inflammation and moistens the lungs
Dang gui – supplies more oxygen to the blood and minimizes swelling
Studies about Acupuncture Treatment for COPD
The results of a placebo-controlled, randomized study on COPD and acupuncture showed the treatment enhanced the range of motion of the rib cage, strengthened the respiratory muscle, as well as improved respiratory function and arterial blood gas, and treated shortness of breath. The ability to exercise was improved after the subjects were given acupuncture. Acupoints UB 13, 20 and 23, GB12, K3, ST36, CV 4 and 12, LI18, and LU 1 and 9 were treated with needles once a week for three months.
Another acupuncture treatment for COPD study done in 2012 discovered that acupuncture helped COPD patients by enhancing their oxygen saturation, reduced shortness of breath, and improved breathing difficulty during exercise. The subjects were given acupuncture ten weeks once each month.
Christina Prieto is an Orlando acupuncturist, a certified Yoga instructor and the founder of Harmony Wellness center in central Florida.