Breathing Easier: How Acupuncture, Cupping, and Self-Care Can Help Relieve Asthma Symptoms
Asthma is a chronic respiratory condition that affects millions of people worldwide. It is characterized by inflammation and narrowing of the airways, leading to symptoms such as coughing, wheezing, and shortness of breath. Many people find relief from their symptoms through a combination of medication, lifestyle changes, and integrative therapies such as acupuncture and cupping.
Acupuncture is a traditional Chinese medicine technique that involves the insertion of thin needles into specific points on the body. According to the principles of Chinese medicine, acupuncture can help balance the body's energy flow, or qi, and promote healing. Cupping is another traditional therapy that involves placing cups on the skin to create suction. This technique promotes blood flow and alleviates pain and inflammation.
Several studies have suggested that acupuncture and cupping may be effective treatments for asthma. In one study, researchers randomized 90 participants with asthma to receive either real acupuncture, sham acupuncture, or no acupuncture. After four weeks, the group that received real acupuncture had significant improvements in their asthma symptoms, including reduced use of bronchodilator medication, compared to the other two groups (1).
Another study looked at the use of acupuncture and cupping in conjunction with standard asthma medication. The researchers randomized 40 patients to receive either acupuncture and cupping or standard medication alone for 12 weeks. The group that received acupuncture and cupping had significant improvements in their lung function, asthma symptoms, and quality of life compared to the group that received medication alone (2).
Acupuncture and cupping work by reducing inflammation and improving lung function. Acupuncture has been shown to have anti-inflammatory effects (3), while cupping is believed to increase blood flow to the lungs and reduce oxidative stress (4).
If you are considering acupuncture and cupping for your asthma, it is important to talk to your healthcare provider first. Acupuncture and cupping are generally considered safe, but they may not be appropriate for everyone. just as pharmaceutical interventions are not for everyone.
In addition to acupuncture and cupping, there are several self-care strategies that people with asthma can use to manage their symptoms and improve their quality of life. Here are a few examples:
Avoid triggers: Many people with asthma have triggers that can cause or worsen their symptoms. These triggers can include things like pollen, dust, pet dander, and exercise. By identifying and avoiding your triggers, you can help reduce the frequency and severity of your asthma attacks.
Practice good hygiene: Respiratory infections can be a common trigger for asthma attacks. To help reduce your risk of getting sick, make sure to practice good hygiene, such as washing your hands frequently, covering your mouth when you cough or sneeze, and avoiding close contact with people who are sick.
Maintain a healthy lifestyle: Regular exercise and a healthy diet can help improve overall lung function and reduce the severity of asthma symptoms. Additionally, avoiding smoking and secondhand smoke can help protect your lungs and reduce your risk of complications from asthma.
Monitor your symptoms: Keeping track of your asthma symptoms can help you identify triggers and take action before an attack occurs. Consider keeping a journal or using a smartphone app to track your symptoms, including when they occur, their severity, and any medications or treatments that you use to manage them.
Acupressure points to help
Lung 1 (LU1) - Located on the upper chest, just below the collarbone and to the side of the breastbone. Pressing on this point can help open the lungs and relieve tightness in the chest.
Conception Vessel 17 (CV17) - Located in the center of the chest, between the nipples. Pressing on this point can help relieve coughing and improve breathing.
Governing Vessel 14 (GV14) - Located below C7, between the shoulder blades. Pressing on this point can help relieve chest congestion and promote relaxation.
Pericardium 6 (PC6) - Located on the inside of the wrist, about two finger-widths from the crease. Pressing on this point can help relieve anxiety and promote calmness, which can be helpful during an asthma attack.
Kidney 27 (KD27) - Located just below the collarbone, near the center of the chest. Pressing on this point can help open the chest and promote easier breathing.
By following these self-care strategies and working closely with your healthcare provider, you can help manage your asthma symptoms and improve your overall quality of life. If you have any questions or concerns about your asthma management plan, be sure to speak with your integrative health practitioner.
In conclusion, acupuncture and cupping are helpful therapies for people with asthma. While more research is needed to fully understand their effectiveness, existing studies suggest that these traditional therapies may offer some relief from asthma symptoms.
Pai, H. J., Azevedo, R. S., Braga, A. L. F., Martins, L. C., Saraiva-Romanholo, B. M., Martins, M. de A., & Lin, C. A. (2015, October 1). A randomized, controlled, crossover study in patients with mild and moderate asthma undergoing treatment with traditional Chinese acupuncture. Clinics. Retrieved April 27, 2023, from https://www.scielo.br/j/clin/a/6HVccGtqmgcDxy6wGqsFMxn/?lang=en
Lee, S. H., Jang, E. S., Kim, J. H., Kim, A. R., Park, H. J., & Hong, K. E. (2016). The effectiveness and safety of acupuncture and cupping therapy in patients with bronchial asthma: A randomized controlled trial. Journal of traditional Chinese medicine, 36(6), 714–720.
Cheng, K. J. (2014). Neurobiological mechanisms of acupuncture for some common illnesses: A clinician's perspective. Journal of acupuncture and meridian studies, 7(3), 105–114. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24929454/
Kim, J. I., Lee, M. S., Lee, D. H., Boddy, K., Ernst, E., & Lee, H. (2011). Cupping for treating pain: A systematic review. Evidence-based